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Oncology cancer services in crisis

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MANY PEOPLE have used the cancer services at Withybush Hospital over the years and have got used to the “glue” which sticks it together, namely Dr Anne Barnes MBE.

 Not many people are aware that she has decided to leave in July of this year. Dr Barnes is a true professional and when questioned is not one to complain, but when reading between the lines it is obvious that Dr Barnes has reached the end of her tether. A total lack of support from the Hywel Dda Health Board has left Dr Barnes close to exhaustion and burn out. Many cancer patients will be aware she rarely takes leave, gets in early and leaves late, comes in to work on days off etc. Yet Dr Barnes is treated with contempt by the ‘powers that be’ because they know she will not let her patients down and they take advantage of her goodwill. In short, the health board is aware that she will go the extra mile and are happy to take advantage of this. She has been working alone in Ward 10 for far too long and when the palliative care consultant left it was just expected that she would take up the slack and do that job as well. A job advertisment for a consultant was drawn up, agreed and then left unadvertised so that the time limit lapsed. I am informed that a new advert was sent for approval at regional level, and after nearly two years without a consultant, has just been advertised. On April 6 I received a letter from the vice-chair of Hywel Dda Health Board, Mrs Sian-Marie James after I asked her what happens when Dr Barnes leaves? The letter said: “Whilst it is not possible for us to discuss with you the detailed personal arrangements affecting members of staff, I do know that Dr Barnes has been very open regarding her intention to retire this year. Because of this, and other challenges affecting our oncology service, we have therefore set up a review group to look at the best service model for the future. We face serious recruitment challenges. At present, we have visiting consultants from Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board who are working significantly above normal capacity and we are unable to offer appropriate sub-specialisation opportunities for existing consultants. There are also other issues, including capacity problems related to pharmacy services.” It has now come to light that one of the visiting consultants mentioned above, Dr Maung Moe, is also leaving his position which leaves us in an even bigger hole. The letter went on to say: “Dr Barnes is a key member of this review group, which includes membership from the Hywel Dda Community Health Council, as well as public health professionals and clinicians from ABMU Health Board. The future arrangements for supporting oncology services at Withybush Hospital will therefore depend on the output from this group.” From the outset, it was agreed that any developments proposed by this project group would be in line with the Calman-Hine principles, in particular that ‘care should be provided as close to patient’s home as is compatible with high quality, safe and effective treatment’. The areas the review group will focus on include: • Staffing issues: including inequity of staffing provision across the three counties, review of job plans, improved ways of working alongside current capacity issues; • Aseptic unit provision: issues being experienced around activity, patient waiting times and staffing pressures; • Information management: ensuring activity is consistently monitored; • Cross border working arrangements: maximising the way Hywel Dda works with its partners; • Transport issues: service pressure for those travelling to Singleton for radiotherapy, ensuring safe transfer of patients back from Cardiff (for those having pet scans or nuclear medicine); • Development of an acute oncology service/developing a new service model: updating services, consideration of patient pathways, shared post opportunities, repatriation issues, etc. I know this group was not set up because Dr Barnes announced that she was leaving. This group was announced before Dr Barnes informed them that she was going, and now visiting consultant Dr Moe is going as well. The group was set up because the Hywel Dda Health Board knows that they have let things slide and now we face a crisis with the delivery of services for cancer patients at Withybush Hospital. Some Cancer Patients are already facing journeys to Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli to see Consultants they would recently have seen locally. The wig service at Withybush Hospital for chemotherapy patients was removed and the contract given to a local hair salon. As a private company this obviously made the cost much more expensive for patients. After a fight this service was reinstated at Withybush Hospital, but not sure for how long as an all-Wales Review is taking place into this service. If you have concerns about cancer services or any other services at Withybush Hospital I urge you to contact your MP, your assembly member, local councillor, the community health council, Hywel Dda Health Board.

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Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet endorses STEP Fusion application

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’S Cabinet have today endorsed proposals from Cllr Paul Miller (Cabinet Member for Economic Development) to further progress the nomination of a Pembrokeshire site to host a Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) fusion power station in the county.

Working with the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), the proposed site is adjacent to the existing energy facilities on the South Shore of the Haven waterway.

If approved, the facility will initially host research with the ultimate aim of developing this technology which could offer a virtually limitless source of clean electricity by copying the processes that power the sun.

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Economic Development said: “I am pleased my Cabinet colleagues endorsed this important programme of work. The Haven Waterway has provided livelihoods, underpinned by fossil fuels, for thousands of Pembrokeshire families, mine included, for more than 50 years. It’s my job to help ensure the waterway continues to provide high skilled, engineering, science and technology jobs for the next generation of this county – and so linked to our focus on climate change (and in addition to our existing multi-million pound commitments to supporting wind, wave and tidal clean power generation) my team have been exploring whether we can also support the development of clean, green fusion technology.

“It’s very early days in the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s site selection process but we’ll provide regular updates as things progress.”

•       STEP is an ambitious programme to design and build a prototype fusion power plant;
•       It is a UKAEA programme, currently with £222m funding from the UK Government to produce a concept design by 2024: https://step.ukaea.uk/

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Re-opening of indoor hospitality and attractions at Milford Waterfront

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RESTAURANTS and indoor visitor attractions in Milford Waterfront are welcoming the return of indoor services from today.

The re-opening of indoor dining allows all restaurants at Milford Waterfront to seat customers indoors. As well as all restaurants on the Waterfront now being able to offer this service, the brand-new Foam Domes overlooking the Milford Haven Waterway are able to open, with bookings being taken from the 19th May.

Indoor visitor attractions are also allowed to re-open. This includes the Waterfront Gallery, which is open today and Phoenix Bowl & Pirate Pete’s Adventure Play which is making preparations to open from Wednesday 19th May. Also, Milford Museum, which has had a new rendered exterior finish, is preparing to open for the end of May.

Lucy Wonnacott, Marketing Manager for Milford Waterfront commented: “We are delighted to see the re-opening of indoor hospitality and visitor attractions here at Milford Waterfront. Each business has their own safety and social distancing measures in place and we kindly ask that you respect and adhere to these for your own safety, and that of others. We hope you enjoy your visit to Milford Waterfront and stay safe!”

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Newly elected Member of the Senedd completes first week in the role

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FOLLOWING on from the Welsh Parliamentary elections, the newly elected member for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, Samuel Kurtz MS, has reflected on his first week in his new role.

The election saw Samuel receive 11,240 votes from across the constituency, the largest number of votes for any Welsh Conservative candidate in the constituency for a Senedd election. It was a closely fought campaign which was conducted respecting Covid-19 restrictions.

Commenting after a busy first week, Sam said:

“It has certainly been a whirlwind. From the moment that the results were announced last Friday my feet haven’t touched the ground.

“After speaking with a number of local and national media outlets, I managed to spend some time with loved ones before heading up to the Senedd early on Monday morning to be sworn in.

“As a Welsh speaker, I was delighted to swear my oath bilingually and will ensure that I continue to do so when speaking in the chamber.

“I’m in the process of recruiting my staff and getting both my Senedd and Constituency office set up to ensure that I can continue the good work of my predecessor, Angela Burns, in standing up for the interest of all my constituents whether they voted for me or not.

“On Wednesday, we elected the Llywydd and Deputy Llywydd as well as confirming Mark Drakeford as the First Minister. As one of 19 new members across the chamber and nine Welsh Conservatives, the coming weeks will be spent learning the ropes and procedures in Cardiff Bay. Over the course of the campaign, I have picked up a several issues and pieces of  casework from across the constituency and will be ensuring that the constituency work is always my priority.

“As we emerge from the Covid restrictions and society begins to open back up I am looking forward to getting to every corner of the constituency, meeting more businesses and individuals.

“I am planning in making use of both modern and traditional methods of connecting with constituents, from email newsletters, social media platforms and virtual surgeries to doorstep surgeries and face to face meetings, to ensure I provide a strong voice in Cardiff Bay for this beautiful part of the country.”

Samuel is contactable via email on Samuel.kurtz@senedd.wales

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