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Doctor: ‘Glangwili will not cope’



crash THE PEMBROKESHIRE Herald has received the explosive full text of a letter sent by a senior clinician at Withybush Hospital, which condemns the Health Board’s proposals for future paediatric care in Haverfordwest as “untested” and “untried”.  

The open letter, from Paediatrician Martin Simmonds, was sent to the Board a week after it announced plans to transfer key neonatal services away from Withybush as of August 1. Dr Simmonds letter, exposes the fact that clinicians DO NOT endorse the Health Board’s policy and have grave reservations about the Board’s decision to press ahead regardless of clinician’s concerns.

The Herald’s article (Big Holes in Board’s “safety net”) in our May 9 edition revealed startling deficiencies in the Health Board’s rationale underpinning ending service provision at Withybush. It now appears that the concerns of campaigners and families who contacted us before that article (“Big Holes in Health Board’s Safety Net”) are shared by those clinicians which the Health Board has claimed support the changes being made.

Peter Milewski, a retired consultant surgeon who worked at Withybush for many years, told the Herald: “It feels like a train crash is about to happen.”

Open letter to Hywel Dda University Health Board 

Please reconsider the proposed Paediatric service model for Withybush Hospital. It must be postponed. This may be our last opportunity to be heard and have our concerns communicated to the Health Board Executive. At a meeting earlier this year (of the dozens I have attended), I said that although not our preferred model a PAU model could be considered if the middle grade rota couldn’t be sustained. It was an untested, untried suggestion without research or risk assessment. A few months later it emerged as the Health Board’s preferred service model. I note that historically the public have received reassurances that these decisions were “clinician led”. I understand the importance of this statement to give credibility to the plans. However, a Health Board statement says that the majority of clinicians support this plan. I am not one of them. I do not know of any Paediatricians in Hywel Dda who have given their support to this service model. Work undertaken by two senior nurses at Withybush, both of whom I regret to say are now absent through illness, have produced research indicating that the risk assessment for a PAU here indicates that it is neither safe or resilient enough to serve the needs of the local population this remote from the hub Paediatric inpatient base. We keep being told to provide answers and not to continually raise concerns and objections to the proposals. The impression is that until we provide the “desired” answer we are hindering the Health Board’s attempt to move forward. We are not “yes” men, we are professionals working in a vocation we are passionate about, with a fear that irreversible harm will occur if the current proposals go through. It has become increasingly difficult to have confidence that our concerns reach the Health Board. Tensions and divisions amongst staff are emerging as the “who knew what and when” charade continues. Don’t tell us NOT to mention potential clinical scenarios in the future that are of “low frequency”. Don’t insult our intelligence or compassion. We are not shroud waving; we just feel it isn’t as safe a service as it should be. Glangwili will not cope with the additional work coming its way this winter, either physically or with respect to workforce issues. Families will end up travelling out of hours from here to Glangwili and then instructed to go to Bronglais to be admitted. We will have babies with bronchiolitis that have to be transferred in an ambulance despite potential deterioration en route because if we insisted on keeping them here to administer supportive treatment, I would be guilty of professional misconduct. A&E staff have only one Consultant with Paediatric experience: that is not sufficient to say they can manage out of hours. I don’t expect the current reliance on locum middle grades to be sustainable once they learn of the absence of local Paediatric support at night. Our concerns: 1. I am not a conspiracy theorist but when the Chairman and Chief Executive elect to move on this summer and the two most senior Paediatricians in Glangwili opt for unexpected early retirement before August 1 it is concerning. 2. Midwifery led services and A&E appear to have been given reassurances about the level of Paediatric support they can expect that we do not recognise in the proposed Paediatric model. 3. Our nurses have spent a considerable amount of time involved in Estates planning at Glangwili. Estates, up until last week I believe, didn’t even know about a planned PAU located within ward 14. This does not give the impression of any concern about how Withybush will manage a seismic change in service in August. You can imagine how valued that makes our staff feel. Please tell them that Dr Simmonds got it wrong about the PAU model, go public and punish him as you see fit. I would rather be a “fall guy” to save the Health Board’s blushes than have the whispered comments in the years to come that I was the architect of this proposal. Tell them we can staff a 24- hour Paediatric unit at Withybush with recently secured middle grade staffing. No, tell them we demand a 24-hour service here such that we can admit a child overnight and discharge the next morning or administer phototherapy for the jaundiced baby from St Davids who must otherwise travel to Glangwili for admission. Tell them we can develop a specialist Paediatric nurse role in A&E but that it will take time. Tell them that unless we stop this process now, this winter will see greater challenges and upset than there needs to be, adversely affecting the health of families and staff both here and at Glangwili. Martin Simmonds Paediatrician Withybush Hospital.

The Pembrokeshire Herald asked the Health Board for a response to Martin Simmonds’ letter. A Health Board spokesperson said: “We welcome the fact that Dr. Simmonds has recognised that change is needed and we want to reassure our patients and we are continuously working with our clinical teams and Welsh Government to find the right solutions and ensure ‘safety nets’ are in place as instructed by the Minister following an independent review of these services by an expert panel. The safety of these services is paramount and we are being very clear that only when we are confident our solutions are safe and sustainable will we implement them.”

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‘We don’t want it’: councillors object to HGV tanker park plans



PEMBROKE DOCK town councillors have objected strongly to plans to build a HGV tanker park in the town.

The tanker park would be located on the south-western side of Criterion Way, behind the ASDA petrol station.

However, at a meeting of the town council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday, April 13, councillors were in agreement that it would create more problems for the town.

Councillor Jonathan George said: “I’ve noted the public input on this and they don’t seem very happy about where it’s going to be put.

“It is close to a small park area and I don’t think it’s suitable to put this here. I won’t be supporting this.”

Cllr George Manning added: “There are many aspects of this which are totally inappropriate for Pembroke Dock. There are many other sites available but they haven’t looked at any of them.

“This does not do anything for the Future Generations act and it will bring more disruption to the town.

“This does not bring about any improvements to the existing transport infrastructure. There are lots of things about this, we don’t want it. I don’t think they have looked into it in enough detail.”

Cllr Gordon Goff said that the impact it would have on the public and wildlife would be ‘astronomical’.

He went on to say he was not happy with one of the statements in the application and said they ‘don’t want to be blackmailed’.

One of the documents submitted with the application states that if the development was not approved it would mean that the applicants, Certas, ‘will either have to find a different site’ or ‘will have to cease operating in the area’.

Cllr Terry Judkins said that the Port Authority wanted to ‘use Pembroke Dock as a dumping ground’ and added that he could not support it.

Cllr Maureen Colgan added that she was ‘totally against’ the application and said that the area should be kept for leisure and be developed as an area where people can sit and enjoy themselves.

The application is due to be decided by Pembrokeshire County Council at a later date.

Cllr Paul Dowson has already called in the application for it to be debated by the County Council’s Planning Committee.

In his request he states that it is too near habitation, it is within the Pembroke Dock conservation area and that children have been using the area near the bandstand as play area for over 20 years.

The area had also previously been the subject of an application for a marina and other leisure facilities but that investment was written off in 2017.

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Trial of Haverfordwest primary school teacher starts at Swansea Crown Court



A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher who is accused of sexually abusing eleven children thinks he is a victim of a witch hunt by the police, a jury has heard.

But at Swansea Crown Court on Monday (Apr 12), the Clare Wilks for the prosecution said that the defendant had “abused the trust of parents and staff” by sexually touching children in his care.

James Oulton, denies 30 charges of sexual assault against the eleven children who were aged eight or nine years old at the time.

The alleged offences took place between 2012 and 2018.

The jury heard how the pupils, now aged between 11 and 17, claimed he touched them sexually.

But the court was also told that Mr Oulton claimed he received cards at the end of term, and he believed letters sent by Pembrokeshire council to parents encouraged false complaints and collusion between pupils.

Oulton, 34, of Richmond Crescent, Haverfordwest, told the court he had behaved appropriately.

The jury heard how the alleged abuse occurred while Mr Oulton was working at a primary school in Haverfordwest.

Clare Wilks, prosecuting, said some of the children alleged that they had been assaulted on a daily basis, while others had had given statements to say it only happened the one time.

The trial continues.

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Kill the Bill protest to take place in Haverfordwest on Saturday



INDIVIDUALS and activists from local groups, including Extinction Rebellion Pembrokeshire, Stand Up to Racism West Wales, Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly and Reclaim These Streets Pembrokeshire are campaigning against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and are to hold a demonstration against the Bill at 1pm this Saturday April 17, in Haverfordwest.
One of the organisers told  The Herald: “This is an enormous piece of draconian legislation that includes significant expansion in police powers to curtail the right to protest. The right to peacefully assemble and protest are a fundamental part of any democracy; empowering people to have their voices heard, in addition to holding the Government to account. These rights are universal –they protect peaceful and legitimate protest whatever the cause.
“The events at the Clapham vigil and at demonstrations over the last few weeks are a dangerous indication of what the future of protest will look like if the police powers bill gets through parliament.”
A local campaigner, a mother and grandmother said “We are in the process of losing a fundamental part of our democracy, It is important we protect it for future generations. We have messed up so much of their future already-we need to hold the Government to account”.
Aspects of the Bill include:
  • The power for Police forces to shut down protests that they deem too disruptive at their own discretion.
  • Up to a 10-year sentence for demonstrators considered to be causing a “public nuisance”.
  • The power for police forces to impose start and end times on static protests of any size.
  • The power to expand stop and search powers, which already discriminate against marginalised communities. If you live in the Dyfed Powys police area, you are 5 times more likely to be stopped and searched if you are black than white.
  • Up to 10-year sentences for damage to public monuments’ Police powers will be expanded and custodial sentences increased to “protect” women.
  • These measures are not sufficient to prevent violence and are troubling, considering some police officers’ involvement in cases of violence against women. Significant restrictions on where protests around Parliament may take place.
  • The elevation of trespass from a civil offence to a criminal offence, meaning police and courts can give harsh sentences to Travellers.
  • Increased power of police to seize vehicles and homes from Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities and demanding proof of permission to travel.
  • The bill will criminalise a way of life for these communities.
A peaceful, Covid-compliant march and rally will be taking place in Haverfordwest on Saturday April 17 , assembling at Picton Fields at 1pm.
People will be asked to wear masks and keep to social distancing regulations.  It is one of a number of protests being organised nationally on the same day against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill.

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