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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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Fishguard: Traws Cymru bus destroyed in vehicle fire

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THE TRAWS CYMRU T5 Bus caught fire on Friday evening (May 17) in Fishguard, no passengers onboard.

According to local reports, only the driver was in the bus, which was on the way back to the depot.

The Herald understands that the driver got off safely.

Police and fire service were at the scene and the blaze was quickly extinguished.

Bus enthusiast Jim Horrissey said on Facebook: “The bus was Optare Tempo X1200 YJ56 WUG.

“It had finished it’s device on the T11 and was heading back to Fishguard when the fire started. Nobody was hurt, and only the driver was onboard.”

The 19 year old bus was formerly on service with the Norfolk Green Line, which is owned by Stagecoach before being put into general Statecoach service.

It was most recently operated by Richard Brothers.

According to their website, The TrawsCymru T5 provides a regular and direct service along the scenic Cambrian Coast, linking Aberystwyth, Aberaeron, New Quay, Cardigan, Fishguard and Haverfordwest.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

Parked up: Bus before the fire

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Dementia Action Week

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LIBRARIES across the county will be supporting Dementia Action Week this month.

Dementia Action Week (20-26 May) aims to unite individuals, workplaces and communities to take action and improve the lives of people living with dementia.

“Unfortunately there are many people living with dementia in Pembrokeshire,” said Laura Evans, Library Development Officer.

“It is important that we do all we can to raise awareness of the condition and to help those people who are living with it.”

Reminiscence sessions will be the focus in some libraries, with members of the public invited to bring along old photographs of their local area to help people recall events, places or people.

Craft activities will be taking place to make ‘twiddle sheets’, that provide visual, tactile and sensory stimulation to people with dementia, with the finished sheets being donated to local groups and charities.

Libraries in Pembrokeshire offer a range of books about dementia, including the ‘Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia’ collection.

The collection, which has been recommended by experts and endorsed by well-known charities and health organisations, provides information and advice for living well after diagnosis, as well as personal stories and practical support.

Information on all Dementia Action Week events taking place at local libraries will be available from:

· www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/libraries-and-culture,
· on the Libraries Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PembrokeshireLibraryService
· or ask at your local library for details

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TPS scam alert issued

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PEMBROKESHIRE Trading Standards are warning local residents of a current telephone scam.

Callers claiming to be from the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) have been phoning residents asking them to pay for the service or to update their contact details.

In fact, the TPS is free – and it does not contact its customers to update their details.

“The TPS is the official service for people to register to opt out of receiving marketing phone calls to land and mobile telephones. It is free and once a phone number is registered, it remains on the list with no need for it to be updated,” said Sandra McSparron, Trading Standards Officer at Pembrokeshire County Council.

“If you have been contacted by phone asking you to pay for TPS services, or update your details, it is a scam.”

Pembrokeshire Trading Standards has also received a report of someone being phoned regarding national insurance fraud and asking for details of the person’s National Insurance number.

Trading Standards would advise people not to share this information with unknown callers.

· If you suspect a scam call, hang up and report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506 / 03454 040505 (Welsh Speaker).

· Registering your telephone number with the TPS can be done via their telephone number 0345 070 0707 or the website www.tpsonline.org.uk

· The Trading Standards Team offers talks to any groups in Pembrokeshire advising how to spot and avoid scams and what to do if you or someone you know is receiving these contacts. For further details please phone 01437 764551 or email tradingstandards@pembrokeshire.gov.uk

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