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Life on the waiting list for medical treatment



A PHOTOGRAPHER has spoken to The Herald about the effect delays in medical treatment have had on his quality of life and how the long wait for him to be treated has left him permanently disabled.

In the light of the WAO report on the gross delays in treatment suffered by those on waiting lists in Wales, we spoke to Mike Hillen about his experience of being stuck in limbo on a list.

Mike Hillen, a freelance photographer who contributes to this newspaper, never dreamt he would end up dependent on a mobility scooter and in adapted accommodation when he went to see his GP with swollen knees. He thought it was just the effects of his work on a window cleaning round.

About a fortnight later, Mike was alarmed to find the bottom of his right leg had become swollen and on Boxing Day 2014 went to Accident and Emergency. The staff were not sure whether he had Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Because of the Bank Holiday, he had to wait as an inpatient for an ultrasound scan.

Mike was told a baker’s cyst on the back of his knee had burst and caused the swelling. However, his pain continued and his knee and leg remained tender. His other leg also swelled and became painful.

Three months later, Mike had an MRI scan. The diagnosis was osteoarthritis in both knees and he was placed on the urgent list for a knee replacement.

‘Urgent’ implies the idea that an operation is imminently needed.

17 months later, Mike was given an appointment for a pre-op assessment. In the intervening period, Mike had become dependent on crutches and his mobility had decreased significantly.

With a clear pre-op assessment, Mike went in for his operation only for it to be cancelled when the surgeon decided the skin on his leg was too swollen and inflamed. He was then referred to a dermatologist, who referred him to a lymphedema clinic. When he attended the lymphedema clinic, he was told that his condition had been caused by the lengthy wait for the operation and his inability to keep the leg moving.

So he would be fit for the operation, Mike had intensive lymph-assist therapy and given a succession of creams to improve the condition of his leg’s skin.

In June 2017, Mike had to be rushed to hospital suffering from sepsis.

Over the following year, Mike’s long-term dependence on crutches to move around caused problems in his back.
It was December 2017 before he had his knee replacement.

It was too late to be of any practical benefit to him. By the time it came, Mike could no longer walk unassisted.

His back’s condition degenerated while he was dependent on crutches, leaving him with spinal stenosis – a narrowing of the spinal canal resulting in pressure on the spinal nerves and severe pain. By the time he had one knee replaced, the other had degenerated to the point at which it needs replacement. Because of the back pain, he wondering if it’s worth it.

Mike and his wife, Lou.

Mike wife Lou told us: “What is worst for him is he can’t do his window cleaning round he had built up and had to give up. He also gave up on being able to finish the coast path after walking 3/4 of it.

“He is now dependent on me to drive him around and to do things for him he enjoyed doing before. I have to apply the creams to ease the swelling in his legs.

“We are now almost 4 years on from the start of this and not much further forward.”

Mike still takes photos.

He can often be seen with Lou. He might be propped up on crutches or on his disability scooter, camera at the ready, but he attends rugby matches, events and uses the accessible areas of the Coast Path he loves to capture images of Pembrokeshire.

A keen drone user, Mike has found that while he cannot clamber over rocks and down steep slopes he is still able to get to those areas he can’t get to by using remote control.

He remains upbeat and a keen rugby fan. And the good news is that after a long wait, he and Lou have finally been able to move from their second storey flat to a disability-friendly bungalow.

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Launch of Haverfordwest Castle Conservation Management Plan



MEMBERS of the public are being asked to help shape the future of Haverfordwest Castle as a draft Conservation Management Plan (CMP) is launched.

One of Pembrokeshire’s most important historical assets, the Castle is owned by Pembrokeshire County Council, which has produced the CMP.

The plan:

▪ sets out the significance of the castle and describes how the building will be protected with any new use, alteration, repair or management; 

▪ will help with the planning of maintenance, conservation and repair work and adaptation of the site to meet new or changing uses; 

▪ will help promote understanding of the site and look at improving public access and activities for local people and visitors; 

▪ will support proposals to conserve the castle and adaptations of the site in response to climate change; 

▪ and underpin funding applications to support improvements

An engagement exercise has been launched alongside the Plan, giving members of the public with an interest in the historic and/or environmental significance of the castle an opportunity to comment on the document and share their views.

To take part in the engagement exercise, please click on the following link:

The deadline for responses is Sunday, March 28, 2021.


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Natural Resources Wales approves Ireland-UK interconnector licence



GREENLINK INTERCONNECTOR LIMITED says it welcomes the decision by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to approve its application for a Marine Licence for the Greenlink electricity interconnector project, which will link the power markets of Great Britain and Ireland.

An important project for Pembrokeshire, and the UK as a whole, NRW’s go-ahead is one of several consents required for the construction of the project and covers installation of the marine cable in UK waters.

The approval is a major milestone for Greenlink and joins the onshore planning consents granted unanimously in July last year by Pembrokeshire County Council and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Greenlink’s proposed 190km subsea and underground electricity cable will run beneath the Irish Sea to connect National Grid’s Pembroke Power Station in Wales and EirGrid’s Great Island substation in County Wexford, Ireland. It will have a nominal capacity of 500 MW.

The Wales-Ireland link is just one of four interconnectors being installed

Nigel Beresford, CEO for Greenlink Interconnector Limited, said: “We are delighted by Natural Resources Wales’s decision to grant this licence. This marks a significant milestone for Greenlink and another important step towards project construction, which we expect to commence later this year.

“The Greenlink team has worked constructively with Natural Resources Wales and Welsh marine stakeholders to find workable solutions to the many technical and environmental challenges facing a large infrastructure project like this, and this has been reflected in the quality of the final proposal.

“The thorough environmental and technical assessments we have undertaken, supported by the practical and value-adding feedback we have received from key marine stakeholders, have ensured that we move forward confident that we are delivering a well-designed project with the interests of the Welsh marine habitat at its core.”

The subsea section of the cable will be approximately 160km in length and uses high voltage direct current (HVDC) technology. The preferred route and installation methods were chosen following the conclusion of subsea surveys and consultation with key stakeholders.

In Ireland, a Foreshore Licence application was submitted to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Foreshore Unit) in 2019 and the onshore planning application was submitted to An Bord Pleanála in December 2020.

Greenlink is one of Europe’s most important energy infrastructure projects and brings benefits on both sides of the Irish Sea for energy security, regional investment, jobs and the cost-effective integration of low carbon energy. The project will offer important local supply chain opportunities and plans are being drawn up for ‘meet-the-buyer’ events in the local area prior to construction.

Once fully consented, Greenlink is expected to have a three-year construction programme, with commissioning planned by the end of 2023.

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Appeal from Fire and Rescue Service to install working smoke alarms



AT 01:17am this morning, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, crews from Milford Haven were called to a property fire in the Hakin area of Milford Haven.

The fire was confined to a pan on a stove in the kitchen area and extinguished by firefighters using two breathing apparatus, a hose reel jet and a thermal imaging camera.

Crews also ventilated the property and fitted smoke alarms within the property.

The Fire Service left the incident at 02:00am.

Watch Manager Alun Griffiths, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said “This fire was the result of cooking left unattended. It is so important to remove all pots and pans from a heat source when you are called away from the cooker.

“Thankfully, the occupiers of the property managed to exit the property before our firefighters arrived, but it could have ended very differently as there were no smoke alarms fitted in the property.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of installing working smoke alarms in your homes and testing them regularly. In the dreadful event of a fire, they can alert you to the danger sooner and could mean the difference between life and death.

“As a Fire and Rescue Service, we provide Home Fire Safety advice which is free of charge. We also offer Safe and Well Visits which you can arrange by phoning us on 0800 169 1234 or by visiting the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website.”

For further Home Fire Safety advice or to talk about the possibility of a Safe and Well Visit by Fire and Rescue Service personnel, please phone us on 0800 169 1234.​​​ Alternatively please complete an online Request a Safe and Well Visit​ form on the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website:

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