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Field hospitals open in Pembrokeshire and Llanelli as Covid-19 cases rise

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COVID-19 step-down patients will be among the first to be admitted to new field hospitals, Hywel Dda University Health Board has announced this week.

Step-down beds provide an intermediate level of care for patients with requirements somewhere between that of the general ward and the intensive care unit.

The move by the health boards comes as part of our ongoing response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The strategy involves around 30 beds being opened at both the Ysbyty Enfys Selwyn Samuel in Llanelli and at Ysbyty Enfys Carreg Las in Pembrokeshire for non-Covid patients from mid-November, which will allow the health board to better manage patient capacity and flow in our acute hospital sites.

The patients – who will be cared for by an experienced multiprofessional team including nurses, therapists and patient liaison officers – have been assessed as no longer needing medical input, but still require some care before being discharged home or to a community care facility.

Field hospitals have been established in each of the three counties of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire as a precautionary measure to enable the NHS to respond to the current COVID pandemic. Over the summer a small number of patients were admitted to the facility in Carmarthen as part of a pilot of the service, which has helped to inform how we use these sites safely and appropriately.

*Please note – none of these hospitals have emergency departments or any other walk-in service and should not be accessed by members of our community. Visiting is restricted as per all other hospitals but health care staff can help connect patients and their families, carers and friends.

Dr Meinir Jones, clinical lead for the field hospitals and transformation, explained: “From the outset we have committed to using these field hospitals flexibly based on the demand experienced as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic and this activity together with our normal unscheduled care activity has reached the level at which we agreed we would need additional capacity from the field hospitals.

“This level was set according to several considerations including the need to have the capacity to admit COVID patients to the main acute hospitals in line with demand across the system, being able to have the right number of patients to adhere to current infection prevention measures and new clinical guidelines, and to safely reinstate some other urgent and critical planned procedures for our patients.”

Staffing for the facilities has been made possible thanks to the flexibility of current health care staff in Hywel Dda, some of whom are temporarily working in different roles or increased hours; as well previous members of staff returning to work and additional recruitment.

Dr Jones added: “Opening up these two hospitals will release some capacity in our acute sites and support the reinstating of other urgent planned procedures. We are acutely aware of the impact postponements have had on patients and their quality of life.”

All of our field hospitals are available to respond quickly and flexibly should there be a need. Acute hospitals, due to their intensive care capacity, access to theatres and supplies such as oxygen, and the support network around the hospital, are best placed to deal with patients who need more acute medical intervention and so will continue to be the primary sites for acutely unwell patients (both COVID and non-COVID).

Andrew Carruthers, Director of Operations at Hywel Dda UHB said: “Central to our development of the field hospitals has been the flexibility they could allow us to be able to manage capacity and overall demand throughout this pandemic.

“COVID unfortunately is not going to simply go away, and so we need to base our plans not just on how we manage COVID patients, but also how we can restart other services and provide continuity of care across the system.

“Both our planning and delivery is and will continue to be based on national and local clinical advice and with the ultimate objective of keeping our population as safe as possible when they need to access our services for care.”

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Pupils from two Pembrokeshire school’s asked to self-isolate

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FURTHER cases of Covid-19 has been confirmed in Ysgol Harri Tudur/Henry Tudor School (Pembroke) and at Milford Haven School.

As a result, all pupils in Year 11 from Ysgol Harri Tudur and some students from year 7 in Milford Haven have been asked to stay home and self-isolate for 14 days.

Parents of the pupils in those classes have been informed.

Parents and carers do not need to contact the schools to find out if their child has been affected.

Pembrokeshire County Council, Public Health Wales and Hywel Dda University Health Board are working with the school to ensure that all possible precautionary measures are being taken to minimise risk of transmission of the virus.

Parents/guardians have been given the following advice by Hywel Dda University Health Board:

If a child/parent/household member develops symptoms of Covid-19, the entire household should immediately self-isolate, and book a test for the individual with the symptoms. It is unnecessary to test the entire household if they are not symptomatic.

The Covid-19 symptoms are:
● a new continuous cough
● a high temperature
● loss of or change to sense of smell or taste

Booking a Covid-19 test:
Hywel Dda University Health Board recommends testing only for those with a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or loss of or change in the sense of taste or smell.

If a child does not have symptoms of Covid-19 but has other cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, they do not need to be tested and they and you do not need to self-isolate. Your child can go to school if fit to do so.
If a Covid-19 test is required, this should be arranged via the UK Booking Portal, https://gov.wales/apply-coronavirus-test or by ringing 119. Testing is available within Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire or via a home testing kit delivered to and collected from your home. The Covid-19 test is undertaken via a throat swab or combined throat and nose swab.

 Self-isolation:
It is essential that people who have Covid-19 symptoms, or who share a household with someone who has symptoms, must self-
isolate, even if your symptoms are mild. To protect others, you must not attend school, nursery, other childcare settings, work, or go to or to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

Anyone with symptoms must self-isolate for 10 days from when their symptoms started. They can return to school or work after 10 days if they are well enough to do so. A pupil must remain fever free for at least 48 hrs.

Anyone in the household who does not have symptoms must self- isolate for 14 days from when the first person in the home started having symptoms.

If a parent thinks their child has symptoms BUT chooses not to put them through a test all household members must remain in self-isolation for 14 days from the onset of symptoms.

If you receive a positive test result, you will be contacted by the Test, Trace, Protect Team who will advise you further.

Non-household members/contacts:
If a person has been in contact with an individual experiencing symptoms, they should carry on as normal until that individual
receives their test result. If this is positive, the Test, Trace, Protect Team will contact those people identified as contacts and advise accordingly.

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Jessica ready to help in access officer role

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Pembrokeshire County Council has a new Access Officer.

Jessica Hatchett took up the role earlier this month and has always
been passionate about disability equality in Pembrokeshire.

Jessica, from Neyland, has cerebral palsy and epilepsy and uses a
wheelchair or a walking frame to get around.

She believes her experiences as a disabled person will give her a
different perspective on the role which aims to build on the Council’s
commitment to making Pembrokeshire an accessible county to all.
A founder member of the Young Voices for Choices youth forum,
Jessica has previously featured on the cover of two access guides, as
well as the cover of a Bus Buddies project leaflet.

And Jessica is hoping to continue the good work of her predecessors,
Trever Owens and Alan Hunt.

Jessica said: “This job is an absolutely fantastic opportunity to help
make Pembrokeshire even better.

“Inclusive, accessible designs don’t just benefit disabled people –
they make life easier for parents with buggies, people with broken
legs or anyone who might not be steady on their feet.

“Simple design changes make a world of difference to someone with
additional needs.”

The Access Officer role involves responding to requests, comments
and concerns on accessibility issues; liaising with community access
groups; ensuring the Authority’s duties and responsibilities with
regard to the Equalities Act (2010) are met; supporting the work of
Pembrokeshire Access Group and giving advice on all access design
issues such as ramps, disabled parking bays, welfare facilities and
much more.

Jessica, a former journalist with the Western Telegraph, added: “I’m
really looking forward to meeting new people and giving them the best
advice that I can – and if I don’t know the answer I will find someone
who does.

“Also, whilst I am going to investigate good practice collaboratively
with other Local Authorities, I am keen for Pembrokeshire to set the
standard for access issues and introduce new and innovative ideas to
improve people’s quality of life.

“I’m also looking forward to doing my first site visit. I know I have an
important job to do and will take it seriously, but I can’t wait to see
what I look like in a high-vis jacket and hard hat!”

To get in touch with Jessica, call 01437 775148 or email
jessica.hatchett@pembrokeshire.gov.uk.

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Pembrokeshire County Council Brexit update

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AS THE Brexit transition period draws to a close in the New Year, Pembrokeshire County Council is working closely with the Welsh Government, the Welsh Local Government Association and other organisations.

The Authority’s aim is to minimise any potential for Brexit to negatively affect Council services and the county’s businesses and residents.

The transition period ends at 11pm on December 31, after which many changes come into effect.

To this end, the Council is publicising a number of websites providing Brexit information. 

They include:

https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support/pembrokeshire-preparing-for-brexit

https://gov.wales/preparing-wales/

https://www.gov.uk/transition

EU and European Economic Area (EEA) citizens who need to apply for Settled Status can find support from Welsh Government and Home Office-funded organisations here: http://www.eusswales.com/en/index.html

Meanwhile, public-facing frontline staff working in support organisations and local authorities throughout Wales are being made aware of the issues involved.

This will enable them to direct EU/EEA nationals and their family members who have queries to the appropriate specialist staff.

For public information on the Settlement Scheme go to: https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families

Pembrokeshire County Council also has a generic Brexit enquiry email address at: brexit@pembrokeshire.gov.uk

 

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