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Over 1,000 turn out to save local hospital services

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THE RAIN held off on Saturday (Nov 3) for another major protest against cuts to services at Withybush General Hospital.
Doctors, nurses, politicians, and members of the public were all at the protest – united in one aim – to send a message loudly and clearly to the Hywel Dda University Health Board that their consultation had no credibility and that vital services, especially the A&E department must remain in Haverfordwest.

Some of the many protesters at Withybush Hospital (Pic: Herald)

Roy Towell from Fishguard, just one of over 1,000 protesters said: “I have come out to protest because those idiots are trying to take away our hospital, and to try and get from here to Gwangwili when you are crippled, about to give birth, or injured is not easy. The A40 has been closed four times in the last three weeks, once for seven hours. So how do we get to Carmarthen in an emergency? It is ridiculous.

He added: “My message to the Chief Executive of the Health Board is ‘Listen to what we have to say – we know what we are talking about. We live here and we are being forgotten. It’s not fair, there are thousands of people living in Pembrokeshire and we need these services.”

Former councillor Peter Stock was at the protest. As a well known and respected person in the county, he said what many people are thinking: “A very big thank you to the organisers and all the People that turned out in Support of Withybush Hospital today, Hywel Dda unless you are blind, uncaring, or just plain crazy not to see how strong the feeling of the Pembrokeshire people to retain our hospital with all the facilities and A&E that is so vitally needed here in Pembrokeshire.”

Against cut backs: Vicky Moller holds a banner (Pic: Herald)

He added: “In the 1990’s when the Secretary of State for Wales announced that Pembrokeshire was to have its own health authority because there was a great need, and the best way forward for the future. So what has changed?”

Conservative MP Stephen Crabb MP thanked the people who turned out, but criticised Labour politicians for not showing up: “[It was an] excellent turn-out at the Save Withybush Hospital protest today. Huge thanks to everyone who came from all across Pembrokeshire to make their voices heard. But very disappointing that no one from the Welsh Labour Government came to listen to the concerns of Pembrokeshire. The campaign is not over; we will keep fighting to defend our A&E.”

Stephen Crabb MP and colleagues at the protest (Pic: S Kurtz)

The rain held off for just long enough for the protest to take place (Pic Herald)

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “We’re aware that some people are anxious about changes to healthcare provision but our doctors and other clinicians have led this work and we believe this is our best chance to deal with the fragility of our NHS and to provide the population with safe, effective care that meets their needs.

“We want to make it clear that our plans are not to move services from Withybush to Glangwili hospital but to provide a new hospital in a more equitable position somewhere between Narberth and St Clears. This will bring many services closer to people in Pembrokeshire than they are now, including our main intensive care unit, overnight children’s (paediatric) services and high risk births. This will not happen overnight and we are committed to working with our communities and our partners to demonstrate and test what additional provision can be made in areas furthest from the new hospital, particularly for time-sensitive emergency conditions.

“We also wish to reassure people that should our plans for a new hospital be unsuccessful, we would need to reconsider how we could meet our challenges and this would mean coming back to our communities to engage with them.”
Helen Mary Jones, the Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, will be speaking at a Save Withybush demonstration outside the hospital in Haverfordwest on Saturday.

People from all over Pembrokeshire were at the protest. (Pic: Herald)

Plaid Cymru responded to the decision of Hywel Dda University Health Board to remove services from Withybush and Glangwili hospitals by calling on the Welsh Government’s Health Secretary to intervene to properly merge health and social services.

Helen Mary Jones, Plaid Cymru AM told The Herald that she had raised the issue of Withybush Hospital consistently.

She said: “Since the consultation on the future of services Plaid Cymru elected members have held a number of ‘Health Summits’, with a range of clinicians, to determine how best to deliver health and social services care across the region.

Helen Mary Jones said that the proposals are ‘disappointing’ and ‘a missed opportunity to transform health and social care’.

“There is a vacuum of information on how services will be integrated, recruitment solved, and services delivered” she added.

Mrs Jones told The Herald: “It is clear to us that the Health Board’s choice doesn’t address how services will actually be improved in the short to medium term. There is no proposal for better out-of-hours care, no plan for substantial increases in social care services, and no plans for investing in the ambulance services – only the removal of essential services and the hope that maybe, one day, we’ll see a new hospital. What we have heard so far makes no mention of the transformation that needs to occur in the relationship with local councils and the third sector for the changes to be realised.

“The west has been waiting far too long for a long-term health plan to improve our services.”

 

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Protest over animal welfare concerns at Bramble Hill Farm

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LOCALS held a peaceful protest at the site of a Pembroke Dock farm, where over 200 animals were removed after a multi agency response to animal welfare concerns last month.

Around 100 worried locals from Pembroke and Pembroke Dock gathered at the entrance to Bramble Hill Farm last Friday (Feb 15) at 4pm. Those present believed the farm owners are still in possession of dogs, which they cited as the reason for the protest. Head of Environment and Public Protection at Pembrokeshire County Council, Richard Brown later confirmed that there were two dogs left on the farm, but explained they were elderly and looked after. Locals hoped the protest would mean the removal of any animals still left at the property and a ban imposed to prevent any further animals being kept at the property or by the owners.

Officers from Dyfed-Powys Police were present, with the Herald reporter in attendance being told that the police were ensuring it remained peaceful and to keep traffic congestion to a minimum. There was evident hostility towards to the local authorities and RSPCA amongst the protesters, with many feeling that their concerns about the farm were not dealt with soon enough by the relevant organisations.

Speaking to the crowd, Richard Brown said: “So the idea of what we do is, we are proceeding with our enquiries and get the case together. If we get a successful conviction, it’s an opportunity to get a ban on keeping animals. Without that conviction we can’t get a ban.”

He was challenged numerous times on whether Sean Burns, owner of the farm, has been prosecuted for animal cruelty. Mr Brown then confirmed that ‘he has been prosecuted previously’.

He added: “We have to be careful not to prejudice any case. All of our interests is animal welfare. We can’t just go in and remove animals because people want us to. We don’t have those powers.

“There is a range of offences being investigated and a range of individuals being investigated.”

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Neyland woman imprisoned for driving while disqualified

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A 35-YEAR-OLD woman who was caught driving while disqualified twice in four days days has been sentenced to six months in prison.

Victoria Anne James, of College Park, Neyland, was stopped by Dyfed-Powys Police roads policing officers in Johnston on Friday, February 15. She was reported for the offences and her Alfa Romeo car was seized.

James was stopped a second time by police on Monday, February 18, for driving while disqualified while driving another car.

She was arrested and charged with two counts of driving while disqualified and two counts of driving without insurance.

She was convicted at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Courts that same day and received a six month prison sentence, and received a further 24 months Driving Disqualification.

Sergeant Justin Williams said: “Police intelligence led officers to stop Victoria Anne James on February 15 where she was reported for offences and her car was seized. For her to commit the same offence two days later shows her disregard for the law.

“I hope this targeted, swift work from roads policing officers and the courts, which has resulted in a prison sentence serves as a stark warning to James and others considering flouting the laws on our roads. We are monitoring our roads and we will take robust action to ensure we keep other drivers on our roads safe by upholding the law.”

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Boy took his own life after failure to refer him for psychiatric support

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THE INQUEST into the death of 14 year-old Derek Brundrett, who was found hanged at Pembroke School in December 2013, has found that there were individual failings in efforts to get psychiatric support for the teenage boy – who then went on to take his own life.

Derek had seven different social workers and record keeping by social services was in a “shocking state of affairs” leading up to his death.

Returning a narrative verdict, the Assistant Coroner, Paul Bennett, said: “That Derek Brundrett took his own life and intended to do so in circumstances where, despite efforts to refer him for psychiatric support there was a failure to do so.”

Although no systemic failures were found, the Assistant Coroner ruled that there was a failure to refer by a social worker, a failure by a GP to provide extra information when referrals in 2012 and 2013 were declined, and a further failure to provide the relevant information on the appropriate referral form of a Looked After Child.

Derek’s death was in the context that he had been returned to foster care and was concerned about a return to the Pupil Referral Unit.

Derek’s actions were not considered to be a cry for help but rather a deliberate attempt at self-harm, the Coroner’s report stated.

The inquest had previously heard there were numerous failed attempts to refer him to mental health services.

A social services referral plan was not completed by Derek’s social worker because “she believed him to be happy”.

The inquest also heard Derek’s GP had made “routine” referrals for mental health treatment in 2012 and 2013.

Angela Lodwick, head of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for the Hywel Dda University Health Board, said they had to “prioritise children with severe mental health disorders”.

She added requests for more information about Derek’s condition went unanswered.

But she told the inquest that, at the time, CAMHS was not proactive in seeking more information.

Ms Lodwick said CAMHS would have probably “taken him on referral and made an assessment” if they had known about Derek’s risk-taking behaviour and talk of suicide in 2013, such as when he climbed onto the school roof.

She told the inquest the system had been inadequate and “the position was that everyone sat on their hands waiting” but CAMHS has since made improvements.

A spokesman for the Pembrokeshire County Council said: “The death of a child is a profound loss and all the professionals involved in this tragedy feel great sympathy for Derek and his family and friends. We would like to repeat our sincere condolences to them at this time.

“Derek’s loss is deeply felt by those individuals who had formed close and caring relationships with him.

“We would like to thank the Coroner for his thorough investigation and consideration of the case.

“We will, of course, reflect upon all of the issues that have been raised during the Inquest, and consider what lessons can be learned with a view to continuing to ensure the safeguarding and well-being of all children and young persons served by Pembrokeshire County Council.”

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