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Coronavirus: Teaching unions call for school term’s delay

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THE NATIONAL Association of Headteachers Cymru (NAHT Cymru) has issued legal proceedings against the Welsh Government which seeks to delay the start of the new school term.
The Association’s Director, Laura Doel, says the Welsh Government must act cautiously in light of the hazard presented by a new mutation of coronavirus which causes worse symptoms in young people than the main strain.
Laura Doel said: “We want to see children in school. It is the best place for their education and their wider wellbeing.
“We understand that the Welsh Government is seeking to strike a balance between minimising the risk of transfer of COVID-19 and providing face to face education for all children. However, the latest data shows that in large parts of Wales, control of infection has been lost and the lack of understanding regarding the new strain has now created an intolerable risk to many school communities.
“It is simply unacceptable for schools to remain open when there is such a question mark over the impact the new variant will have and we will not sit back and let this happen without calling the Welsh Government to account, for the sake of the whole school community.”
Ms Doel continued: “We believe that it is wrong to keep people in harm’s way whilst the implications of the new variant of the virus are still being discovered. The currently available information contains no solid scientific evidence regarding the impact of the new variant on schools. In particular, there is nothing that outlines the risks to pupils and teachers of maintaining in-person tuition.
“With this in mind, we had begun legal proceedings against the government to force them to disclose the scientific information they are withholding.
“We have asked the Welsh Government to share the evidence justifying the distinctions drawn between primary and secondary schools, the geographical distinctions between Wales and England and the evidence that is being used to underpin the decision that schools’ plans do not need to change despite the emergence of the new variant of Covid in the UK.”

The NAHT says the Welsh Government should:

• Move all schools to home learning for a brief and determined period for most children.
• During this time, proper support to make the home learning experience as good as it can be. That includes technology and learning resources but also the flexibility for school leaders to respond to their circumstances.
• The government should then establish a properly organised, resourced and funded lateral flow testing regime for schools in place of the proposal which would see school staff leading the testing effort, instead of the botched DIY system currently being imposed.
• Work should be undertaken with school leaders and Public Health Wales to establish and agree on new Covid-related safety measures in schools during the temporary restriction.
• Urgently review its approach to special schools to protect all staff and pupils in those communities.
• Immediately prioritise vaccinations in education
• Then agree on an orderly return
The NASUWT has also called on the Minister of Education, Kirsty Williams MS, to move all education provision to remote education in light of the approaching new Covid strain.
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said: “The NASUWT is completely committed to ensuring that children can return to school as quickly as possible.
“However, it is now abundantly clear that the pandemic is seriously impacting on the ability of all schools to continue to operate normally.
“There is genuine concern that schools are not able to reopen fully and safely at this time.
“The NASUWT remains of the view that schools and other settings should only remain open to all pupils where it is safe for them to do so.
“The NASUWT will not hesitate to take appropriate action in order to protect members whose safety is put at risk as a result of the failure of employers or the Welsh Government to ensure safe working conditions in schools.”
Neil Butler, NASUWT National Official for Wales, said: “The whole of Wales is in Tier 4 and yet there are schools in Wales planning to open this week to full face-to-face teaching.
“There are chaos and confusion in the education service in Wales as the buck has effectively been passed to Local Authorities and some Authorities have passed it down to individual schools.
“The Education Minister has made teachers in Wales the promise that the safety of education workers would be a priority.
“We are now faced with a strain of Covid-19 that is 70% more virulent and 30%+ of new cases in Wales are of the new strain.
“We need to hear from the Education Minister that face-to-face teaching is suspended until schools can review their risk assessments to be able to cope with the new strain.
“During that time teachers can finally get the time to develop distance learning resources that are so desperately needed.”

Mark Drakeford said experts would be “looking at all the evidence again early next week”.

He added: “We reached an agreement with our local education colleagues that in Wales we will have a phased and flexible return to school.”

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Public engagement exercise over new hospital between St Clears and Narberth

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HYWEL DDA is asking the people of Pembrokeshire to help it further shape and deliver future services by taking part in a six-week engagement exercise.

Since the publication of its strategy, A Healthier Mid and West Wales: Our Future Generations Living Well in 2018, the health board has worked with partners to provide care and develop services. However, the coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on health and care services. As a result, the health board now wants to learn from the public about how the pandemic has affected their health and care, and access to it.

This week, Hywel Dda UHB has been distributing a discussion document for the public to consider, along with a questionnaire for completion.

Hywel Dda UHB is also asking for the public’s feedback in relation to its long-term strategy to develop and build a new hospital in the south of the Hywel Dda area, somewhere between and including St Clears, in Carmarthenshire, and Narberth, in Pembrokeshire.

This location is the most central for most of the population in the south of the Hywel Dda area, and it was determined through the public consultation held in 2018.

The public is also being asked to nominate sites for a new hospital based four criteria:

The nominated site must be within the zone between and including St Clears in Carmarthenshire and Narberth in Pembrokeshire. This location is the most central to most of the population in the south of the Hywel Dda area.

The nominated site should be a minimum of 35 acres of reasonably developable land.

The nominated site should have realistic prospects of obtaining planning permission for a new hospital.

There should be appropriate transport infrastructure for a major hospital site.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “The global pandemic has had a major impact on all areas of our lives so it’s crucial that the health board considers, reflects and learns from this extraordinary period. This engagement exercise will allow the public to tell us in their own words how COVID-19 has affected their health and care, and access to it.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to participate because the feedback we receive will play a major role in helping shape future services. This in turn will allow us to deliver on our long-term commitment for a healthier mid and west Wales.

“I would also stress that this engagement exercise is part of an ongoing process. Over the coming months and years, we plan to engage with the public, stakeholders and partners on a wide variety of issues, such as service models. Everyone will have their chance to give their views and opinions because we are committed to continuous engagement with the public to ensure we provide the best possible care.”

The engagement exercise will run until Monday June 21.

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Paul Sartori taking action to support climate with National Lottery grant of nearly £14,000

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LOCAL hospice at home charity, Paul Sartori Hospice at Home, is taking action to support the climate with the installation of solar panels at its main head office in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.

The charity which delivers end of life care services across Pembrokeshire, has been awarded a grant to fund the purchase and installation of solar panels at Paul Sartori House, Winch Lane. This investment is part of an ongoing commitment to address the climate emergency and the charity joins many others who are taking action. Paul Sartori was one of 35 community groups, who were selected to take part in the Climate Action Boost scheme, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.

Working alongside Renew Wales, a partner in the initiative, the group explored methods to help tackle the causes and consequences of climate change, and to operate more sustainably. A number of options were discussed to reduce their impact on the environment and Renew Wales helped the charity to develop an environmental action plan, which is to be implemented over the coming months. The scheme available to cover a variety of environmental reduction activities, including renewable energy, reducing consumption, local food and reduced or less impactful travel.

Paul Sartori Hospice at Home wouldn’t normally be associated with environmental activity. Through regular consultation over many months, the charity has been really encouraged by what they have learnt.

“We have invested a lot of time in developing the plan; discussed a number of alternatives along the way, but feel that the solar panel installation will have the biggest impact for the charity in the long term”, said Sandra Dade, Charity Manager. “The National Lottery Climate Action Boost has really inspired our charity to minimise our impacton the environment and we will continue this journey,” added Sandra.

Jemma Nurse, Funding Manager at The National Lottery Community Fund said, “The climate emergency is everyone’s business, which is why The National Lottery Community Fund is acting to support and inspire communities to minimise their own impact on the environment. We are proud to be a significant funder of environmental projects and Paul Sartori Hospice at Home, along with the other groups participating in Climate Action Boost, will play a valuable part in building our knowledge so we can share our learning with other funders across Wales and the UK.”

The services provided by the Paul Sartori Hospice at Home enable people in the later stages of any life-limiting illness to be cared for and to die at home with dignity, independence, pain free and surrounded by those they hold most dear, if that is their wish.

All of the services are free of charge, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, thanks to the generosity of the Pembrokeshire Community. Further information on the charity and its services can be obtained by visiting their website www.paulsartori.org, or by phoning 01437 763223.

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New nursing service to support carers of people living with dementia

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HYWEL DDA UNIVERSITY HEALTH BOARD, in partnership with Dementia UK, is launching a new nursing service to support carers of people living with dementia.

The Admiral Nurse service will be a significant addition to the current support available to people living with dementia and their carers. The initiative is in line with the Dementia Action Plan for Wales 2018-2022, a Welsh Government strategy that aims to recognise the rights of people with dementia, make them feel valued, and help them live as independently as possible in their communities.

The team will cover Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire with a focus on delivering person–centred and relationship-centred dementia care. The Admiral Nurses will work collaboratively in a family-centric manner, across health and social care pathways, to provide support, expert guidance & practical solutions to enable families/carers, including the person living with dementia, to maximise their wellbeing and improve the experience of those affected by dementia.

Dementia UK is the only charity in the UK dedicated to supporting families affected by dementia through dementia specialist Admiral Nurses.  When things get challenging or difficult for people with dementia and their families, Admiral Nurses work alongside them, giving the compassionate one-to-one support, expert guidance and practical solutions that can be difficult to find elsewhere. They are a lifeline, helping families to live more positively with dementia in the present, and to face the challenges of tomorrow with more confidence and less fear.  

The service launched on 29th March 2021 and is now accepting referrals.

Charlotte Duhig, Admiral Nurse Clinical Lead, said: “I am honoured to be leading this new service to support carers and families of people living with dementia across the counties served by Hywel Dda University Health Board. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an incredibly challenging time for people living with dementia and their carers but I’m confident that this much-needed service will make a difference to the lives of those affected by dementia.

“Having previously set up an Admiral Nurse Service, I know the benefit of working as an Admiral Nurse as families can get the emotional and practical support to allow them to plan for the future. Health and social care professionals can also take advantage of our in-depth knowledge of dementia.”

Dr Hilda Hayo, CEO and Chief Admiral Nurse at Dementia UK, says: “We are delighted to announce this new Admiral Nurse service in partnership with Hywel Dda University Health Board. The fact that this service extends to a large rural area within West Wales, with the support of two Welsh-speaking Admiral Nurses, means that we are improving access to dementia specialist support for families.”            

To be able to access this service, the following referral criteria applies:

  • The person being supported/cared for by the carer has a diagnosis (or likely diagnosis) of dementia.
  • The person with dementia and/or carer lives in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion or Pembrokeshire (or is registered with a GP in those areas).
  • The carer agrees to their referral to the Admiral Nurse
  • The carer should have identified need(s) that impact upon their caring role or as a consequence of their caring role*

If you are a health or social care professional or 3rd sector working with someone you believe this service could benefit, or you are a carer of someone living with dementia and would like to be referred to the service, please contact a health or social care professional who can refer you. 

For further information, contact the nursing team direct:

Clinical Lead: Charlotte.Duhig@wales.nhs.uk

Admiral NurseContact detailsLocality covered
Bethan BulmanBethan.Bulman@wales.nhs.ukCeredigion North
Donna Phillips Ceredigion South
Emma VenablesEmma.Venables@wales.nhs.ukPembrokeshire North
Rosie BellRosie.Bell@wales.nhs.ukPembrokeshire South
Siriol DyerSiriol.Dyer2@wales.nhs.ukCarmarthenshire (3Ts)
Liz WrightElizabeth.Wright@wales.nhs.ukCarmarthenshire (Amman Gwendraeth)
Donna OwensDonna.Owens2@wales.nhs.ukCarmarthenshire (Llanelli)
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