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“Call us and we’ll meet you there”, expectant mums will be told

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HYWEL DDA UNIVERSITY HEALTH BOARD is planning to make the Midwifery Led Unit at Withybush Hospital a retained service at night, meaning expectant mums will need to call their community mid wife and arrange to meet at the hospital.

The changes are expect to take place in November.

The move comes following a fall in the number of births in Pembrokeshire since consultant led services were moved from Withybush.

Last year, a total of 3,165 babies were delivered across the health board, with 142 of those being delivered at Withybush MLU.

This was a reduction from the 189 babies delivered at the unit in 2016, and the 160 babies delivered there in 2017.

The Health Board had originally denied that the unit, which opened in 2014, would become a day service with senior management saying that they expected no reduction in service for a unit which was expected to deliver 300 babies a year.

But the plans are no need for concern say the hospital. Keith Jones, Assistant Director of Acute Services said that he did not feel that the plans were a reduction of service for expectant mums in Pembrokeshire, confirming that Midwife Led Unit at Withybush Hospital will continue to be available to women 24 hours a day.

He told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “Our proposals will allow us to deploy our midwives and support staff as effectively as possible, as the midwives currently based in the MLU will be expanded into an integrated community midwifery team.

“This will lead to improved continuity of care for women and their families throughout pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period and ensure that midwives’ time is fully utilised and matched with women’s needs.”

“Any women booked for Midwifery Led Care are continually risk assessed during their pregnancy and follow the All Wales Midwifery Led Care Guidelines and Pathways.

“The proposed model of care is well established throughout the UK both in rural and urban areas.

“Individual pathways of care are discussed with women during their pregnancy and issues such as geographical location, drive times and communications access are all considered.”

Speaking in March when rumours of the changes first started circulating, Local Assembly Member Paul Davies has responded furiously to reports that yet again Withybush Hospital will see services reduced.
He said: “If this is true then this is just another example of services at Withybush Hospital being downgraded.

“It will be yet another blow to the people of Pembrokeshire who have consistently opposed services being eroded at Withybush Hospital.

“If this takes place then it will put children’s and mothers’ lives at risk which is scandalous. The Hywel Dda University Health Board need to think again about any suggestion that services will be reduced at Withybush Hospital.

“In addition, the Welsh Government, who are ultimately responsible for health services in Wales, need to start standing up for the people of Pembrokeshire because they cannot continue to sit idly by as services continue to disappear from our hospital.”

Also, back in March, Keith Jones at the Health Board said: “Withybush Hospital Midwife Led Unit is open 24/7 and we have absolutely no plans to reduce the opening hours of this important service to the local population.

“We have been discussing the options to improve the efficiency of our staffing model by achieving a greater integration of our community-based midwives and staff based in the Midwife Led Unit.

“This will not reduce patient access to the Midwife Led Unit, which will remain open to women in Pembrokeshire 24/7.”

Stephen Crabb MP said: “Local people will be deeply dismayed by this latest development. Every appeal that has been made to Ministers at the Assembly to protect services in Pembrokeshire have come to nothing. Welsh Government in Cardiff has basically washed its hands of this issue and are sitting back while the Health Board does its dirty work of cutting local services.”

Speaking on Tuesday, Paul Davies Assembly Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire said – “Yet again the Hywel Dda University Health Board are planning to reduce services at Withybush Hospital. To suggest that changing from a 24/7 staffed unit to an on-call system overnight will give a better service is quite frankly beyond belief.

“Do the Health Board think the people of Pembrokeshire are stupid?

“An expectant mother does not want the worry of having to ring a midwife who then has to travel to Withybush Hospital if her baby is being born at night.

“40,000 people signed a petition against previous unwanted changes being proposed by the Health Board. They totally ignored this and are ploughing on with their plans to reduce Withybush Hospital to a Community Hospital against the will of the people of Pembrokeshire.”

The health board’s current proposals are simply the latest in a long string of attempts to continuously remove services at Withybush Hospital in recent years, and, to be perfectly frank, the local people are sick and tired of having to fight to maintain essential services at their local hospital.”

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Rosslare ready to go it alone

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THE UK Government stands ready to revoke legislation governing the relationship between the ports of Fishguard and Rosslare.

The abolition of the current arrangements is a step closer according to Irish newspaper reports of a recent meeting between Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Fianna Fáil’s transport spokesperson Robert Troy and Wexford TD James Browne.

According to the reports, Mr Grayling told the Irish politicians that the UK has ‘no strategic or economic’ interest in keeping the ports’ governance structure.

The Irish Government, meanwhile, regards Rosslare as a major part of its Brexit plans and has acquired further land to provide additional facilities there.

The ports are governed by a UK Act of Parliament from 1888, which created the Fishguard and Rosslare Railways and Harbour Company.

The Act continued to govern the relationship between the Ports, even after most of Ireland secured its independence from the – then – British empire.

However, the old legislation has – in the view of Irish TD James Browne – hindered the Irish Government’s ability to expand activities at Rosslare to the benefit of the local and Irish economies.

Stena Line: Looking at the long term development of both ports

Fishguard and Rosslare ports are part of the one company, namely the Fishguard and Rosslare Railway and Harbours Company set up by an Act of Parliament.

Mr Browne explained to The Herald: “In effect, ownership of the port lies with UK government. But in turn the ports are effectively run as private companies: Irish Rail control and operate the Rosslare end and Stena control and operate the Fishguard side and there is an agreement in place as to the division of profits of the company.

“In Ireland, this complex and archaic ownership model has regularly been cited as an inhibiting factor in the development of the port. In short, no one will invest in a port whose ownership is unclear.”
The opportunity is not, however, all on one side, says the Wexford TD: “The decoupling of the two ports, and the transfer of Rosslare to Irish state ownership would free up both ports from this complex ownership model and allow investment in the ports.”

Mr Browne also highlighted the potential for growth in economic activity in West Wales’ closest trading neighbour: “Dublin Port is so busy that it is turning away business. Rosslare Port is in an ideal geographical location to attract shipping business and to take the pressure off of Dublin. Port. It, in turn, would act as an economic driver for the entire South East of Ireland.”

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb told us: Stephen: “The importance of the Fishguard – Rosslare ferry connection is unquestionable with 80% of all goods from Ireland passing through Welsh ports.
“However, the historic legal framework for the ports is outdated and does not give either side the freedom they need to develop and innovate. I can well understand why change is being sought at this time.

“I have met with the management on both sides of the Irish Sea to discuss Brexit planning and other aspects of the industry and will continue to do so.”

Ian Hampton, Chief People and Communications Officer, Stena Line said: “Stena Line hopes that by removing the historical legislation that governs the status of The Fishguard Rosslare Railways and Harbour Company it will enable Stena Line and the Irish Government to work closer together creating greater opportunity, such as the options for the long term development of both the respective ports.”

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Mums in Wales face shortfall in mental health services

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THOUSANDS of women in Wales who need specialist support for mental health problems during pregnancy or following birth are unable to access the care they need because of where they live. And others needing specialist inpatient care must receive it in England because Wales does not have a mother and baby inpatient unit for women suffering the most severe mental health conditions.

Perinatal mental health problems are one of the most common complications experienced during pregnancy and after birth with up to one in five women – and up to one in 10 dads affected. Symptoms include depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders and postpartum psychosis.

It means that in Wales more than 6,000 new mothers every year will experience a mental health problem during pregnancy or in the 12 months following the birth of their child. If left untreated, these conditions can have a devastating impact on women and their families, making it harder for parents to provide the care babies need for healthy social, intellectual and emotional development.

As the NSPCC launches its new campaign, Fight for a Fair Start, which calls for improved perinatal mental health provision, the charity has highlighted that Wales’s seven health boards have just one specialist health visitor and four specialist perinatal mental health midwives between them.

These roles can offer vital early help and continuity of care to mums and their families affected by perinatal mental health problems and help reduce demands on other services which have to support parents suffering problems.

The charity has also highlighted that new mothers experiencing the most severe perinatal mental health conditions are not able to access appropriate inpatient care in Wales because there is no mother and baby unit. Instead, women who need specialist inpatient care are either admitted for treatment in adult psychiatric wards – where they may be separated from their child – or in mother and baby units in England.

Launching Fight for a Fair Start today (19 July) NSPCC Cymru has called for:

  • Dedicated specialist perinatal mental health midwives and health visitors in each health board area, to help identify and support women and their families affected by perinatal mental health problems.
  • All women and their families to be able to access a mother and baby unit in Wales.
  • Greater investment in specialist services to ensure that all women and their families can access high quality specialist perinatal mental health services, wherever they live in Wales

Dr Sarah Witcombe-Hayes, Senior Policy Researcher at NSPCC Wales, said: “New mums and dads in Wales are still not receiving the mental health support that they need to give their babies the best start in life. Experiencing perinatal mental health problems can make it harder for parents to provide the sensitive and responsive care that babies need at such an important time, and that is why it is so crucial to have the right support in place for families.

“Access to this vital support should not be dependent upon where you live. Having at least one specialist mental health midwife and specialist perinatal mental health visitor in each health board in Wales would be a significant step towards ensuring that these problems are identified early and mums and their families receive the best care.

“Greater investment is also needed. The Welsh Government must make sure that all women and their families affected by the most serious problems can access potentially lifesaving treatment and support from a mother and baby unit in Wales when they need it.”

North Wales mum Sally Wilson developed postpartum psychosis in 2015 just days after the birth of her daughter Ella but was unable to access the locally-based help she needed such as a mother and baby unit. She said: “I experienced delusions, hallucinations and I was terrified I had harmed Ella but I was admitted to a general adult psychiatric unit, which was scary and traumatic, while Ella went home with my partner.

“In North Wales there weren’t any specialist perinatal mental health teams and no specialist mother and baby unit with the nearest two hours away in England. It took me a long time to access the correct treatment and not only did this have an impact on my recovery but it also affected early bonding with Ella.

“In the absence of specialist help, I was fortunate that my partner’s research background meant he was able to investigate evidence-based treatment options, I appreciate that is not the case for everyone. I also relied heavily on the charity Action on Postpartum Psychosis to help me recover. Ultimately, this saved my life.”

Dr Jess Heron, CEO of Action on Postpartum Psychosis added that they supported the NSPCC Campaign. She said: “Most women who develop Postpartum Psychosis will need admission to a specialist Mother and Baby Unit. It is not right that women who become ill in Wales have to be admitted far away from their families in England, or risk being separated from their infant.

“Psychiatric illness is the leading cause of maternal death in the postpartum year in the UK. We fully endorse the call made by NSPCC for women to have immediate access to a mother and baby unit within a reasonable distance of their home if they need it, and to have access to specialist care within perinatal mental health teams wherever they live.”

The NSPCC campaign has been supported by Jo Malone London who also fund direct services to new and prospective parents, focussing on supporting parents with their mental health problems to help them develop secure and healthy relationships with their children.

The NSPCC is inviting people to join the campaign by raising their voice and signing the Fight for a Fair Start petition.

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RNLI crew offer assistance to casualties on board yacht

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ST DAVIDS’ Tamar class lifeboat launched at 7.42am on July 17 to a 11m yacht approximately nine miles west of St Davids Head.

There were four people on board, three of which were suffering from severe sea sickness. The skipper of the vessel was unfamiliar with the area.
The RNLI lifeboat escorted the casualty to the calmer water of Ramsey Sound and put two volunteer crew members on board to check the condition of the crew and assist with mooring the vessel.

The all-weather lifeboat was re-housed by 10.30am

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