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Health

Older people missing out on benefits

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AGE CYMRU helped older people in Wales claim more than £6.5m in benefits last year; additional income that could have a massive impact on the quality of life for those individuals who came forward seeking help.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg as it’s estimated that more than £3.5 billion of state benefits available to older people in the UK goes unclaimed each year. In Wales this would equate to approximately £175 million of unclaimed benefits; a significant amount of money that could help bring about positive changes to thousands of older people in Wales.

Additionally, a recent study by the National Assembly for Wales found that more than 120,000 older people in Wales are living in poverty.

To help combat such levels of poverty amongst older people, Age Cymru has updated More Money In Your Pocket for 2019/2020; a bi-lingual guide to help older people and their carers claim benefit entitlements in later life.

The guide covers a wide range of benefits and entitlements, including state pensions, Pension Credit, help with Council Tax, help with heating costs, Attendance Allowance and Carers’ Allowance.

Take the case of Jack, who contacted one of Age Cymru’s partners for help in 2018.

Jack is 82 and lives with his wife Gwen who is 73. Jack has suffered six heart attacks and has several other debilitating diseases. As a result he has limited mobility and little stamina so rarely leaves his home.

An Age Cymru adviser undertook a thorough exploration of Jack and Gwen’s circumstances and identified that they were not claiming all their benefit entitlements.

In summary, Jack was awarded the highest rate of the Disability Living Allowance care component at £85.60 per week; Pension Credit for the couple was awarded at £119.00 a week and their Council Tax payments were reduced from £155 to £25 a month. They also received a number of backdated amounts, totalling £5,587.46.

As a result, their life has changed for the better. They can now afford to pay for food and heating and can also pay for transport if they need to go somewhere and therefore no longer feel trapped in their home.

Gavin Thomas, who manages the charity’s information and advice services across Wales says: “Poverty can have a devastating effect on an older person’s quality of life forcing many to choose between eating and heating. It can also keep an older person trapped in their homes leading to loneliness and isolation and, in many cases, poor mental and physical health.”

“Some people miss out on benefits because they mistakenly believe they don’t qualify or are put off by the claims process.

“However, older people might be surprised to learn what help is available to them. I would urge any older person in Wales to claim all their benefit entitlements and to use our guide as a useful tool to start the process.”

More Money In Your Pocket is available free of charge from Age Cymru and local partners throughout Wales. You may call the Advice Line free on 08000 223 444 or email advice@agecymru.org.uk to order a copy. You may also download the free guide from our website: www.agecymru.org.uk/moneyguides

The charity’s expert advisers can also carry out a full benefits check to find out what you might be entitled to claim. Age Cymru also offers a range of information guides and factsheets on many other topics.

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Health

Third day for hospital operation cancellations for ‘patient safety’

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HYWEL DDA University Health Board has confirmed that, in the interest of patient safety, planned inpatient operations scheduled for today (Wednesday 8 January 2020) have been postponed at Bronglais, Glangwili, Prince Philip and Withybush hospitals. Emergency surgery, day case procedures and outpatient appointments are continuing as normal.
These actions are in line with our escalation procedures to help manage patient flow and maintain patient safety during periods of peak pressure.
We have contacted patients affected directly so please attend as planned if you do not hear from us. Otherwise, please do not contact our appointments or outpatient teams unless absolutely necessary as they are very busy at this time.
Whilst the situation remains challenging, we are currently assessing our operating plans for the days ahead and, as per normal planning arrangements, these will be reviewed on a daily basis.
We will issue an updated statement when a large proportion of planned operations resume.
We apologise for an inconvenience this may cause patients who have had their operations postponed or who have had to wait longer than normal for their procedure.

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Health

Operations at all west Wales hospitals, including Withybush cancelled again today

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THE HEALTH BOARD has confirmed that, in the interest of patient safety, routine planned operations remain cancelled today (Tuesday 7 January 2020) at Bronglais, Glangwili, Prince Philip and Withybush hospitals.

Operations were also cancelled yesterday for the same reason.

The exception to this is emergency surgery and urgent cases wherever possible, as well as most day surgery, with the exception of Bronglais Hospital. All outpatient appointments are continuing as normal.

A spokesman said: “We are contacting patients affected directly so please attend as planned if you do not hear from us. Otherwise, please do not contact our appointments or outpatient teams unless absolutely necessary as they are very busy at this time.

“This situation remains challenging with the Health Board operating in line with our escalation procedures to help manage patient flow and maintain patient safety. This includes commissioning additional areas to accommodate patients who require overnight care and support from senior clinicians, managers and other staff not initially rostered to work over the weekend to support the review and care of patients.

“In collaboration with our Local Authority partners, we continue to implement our broader winter plan which is designed to help reduce demand for hospital admission and prioritise patients for care within their home environment over the wider winter period. Over the next few weeks, a number of staff taking on new and different roles will be coming into post to support patients to receive the most appropriate care for their needs in the most appropriate setting. These are resourced through the winter planning monies supported by Welsh Government, in addition to the money we invested ourselves as a Health Board.”

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Health

Withybush General Hospital cancels all operations citing patient safety

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WITHYBUSH HOSPITAL has taken the unusual step of cancelling all inpatient operations in the interest of patient safety.
Hywel Dda University Health Board said they have decided to cancel inpatient operation at Bronglais, Prince Philip, Glangwili and Withybush today (Jan 6).
The health board has asked people do not attend an emergency department or GP practice if you have symptoms of infectious illness such as diarrhoea, vomiting, fever or symptoms of flu. Flu and norovirus are circulating and for the majority of people, these can be treated safely at home.
However, the vulnerable – very young, frail elderly, living with long term or chronic conditions – or those with symptoms worsening should seek medical advice.
In a statement issued by the Health Board to The Pembrokeshire Herald, a spokesperson said: “It has been an extraordinary weekend for our health service, with critical pressures being felt across all of our hospital A&E departments, GPs and our community services.
“In the interest of patient safety, Hywel Dda University Health Board has made the decision to cancel inpatient operations at Bronglais, Glangwili, Prince Philip and Withybush hospitals today.
“We are contacting patients affected directly so please attend as planned if you do not hear from us. Otherwise, please do not contact our appointments or outpatient teams unless absolutely necessary as they are very busy at this time.
“If you are unwell, please be aware that you may experience long waits for a GP appointment and at our A&E or MIU units at this time, for which we wholeheartedly apologise. If there are other services you can use, such as community pharmacies, please do so.”
Dr Philip Kloer, Medical Director at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “First I’d like to thank all my NHS colleagues across our hospitals, primary care and in the community for their commitment to our patients at this highly pressurised time.
“This weekend saw our hospitals at a level of escalation not seen before and it is in the interest of patient safety that we have postponed planned operations today. I understand this may be frustrating for those who have waited for their operation and I apologise for this.
“In response to the pressures being experienced today, we are redeploying staff to areas where additional support is needed, including contacting staff currently on leave. We are also working with our colleagues in the local authority and the families of those well enough to be discharged to ensure our medically well can go home or to an appropriate care setting as soon as possible.”

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