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New Covid vaccination strategy published for Wales

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ALL eligible adults will be offered a Covid vaccine by the autumn, under ambitious plans published by the Welsh Government on Monday (Jan 11).

Health Minister Vaughan Gething published the Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy, which sets out three key milestones.

It comes as the latest figures show more than 86,000 people have received the vaccine. Wales will publish daily vaccine figures from today.

The three milestones set out in the plan are:

  • By mid-February – all care home residents and staff; frontline health and social care staff; everyone over 70 and everyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable will have been offered vaccination.
  • By the Spring – vaccination will have been offered to all the other phase one priority groups. This is everyone over 50 and everyone who is at-risk because they have an underlying health condition.
  • By the autumn – vaccination will have been offered to all other eligible adults in Wales, in line with any guidance issued by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
    In total, around 2.5m people throughout Wales could be offered Covid vaccines by September, depending on further advice from the JCVI.

The strategy depends on sufficient and regular supplies of the vaccines being delivered. It will be kept under review in line with supply of the vaccine and any further advice from the JCVI.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “The Covid vaccines offer our best hope of a return to the normality we are looking forward to after such a difficult year, which has turned all our lives upside down.

“Delivering this vaccination programme to the people in Wales is a huge task but an enormous amount of work is going on to make it a success.

“We are making good progress with thousands more people being vaccinated every day.

“Over the coming week we will see the programme pick up further speed with more clinics opening and the first vaccines to be given by pharmacists.”

To reach as many people as safely and as quickly as possible, we are continuing to accelerate the vaccination programme as more supplies of the two vaccines become available.

This includes:

  • The number of mass vaccination centres increasing to 35 over the coming weeks, with at least one in each county. We started with seven, five weeks ago.
  • Military support in the mass vaccination centres – there are 14 immunisers and 70 other personnel providing support.
  • 100 GP practices providing clinics by the end of this week.
  • The first pharmacies to provide the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will start vaccinating in North Wales in the next week.
  • 14 mobile units, run by community nurses, which are taking the vaccine to care homes.
  • Text message vaccination appointment reminders.

Dr Gillian Richardson, who leads the Covid vaccination programme in Wales, said: “This is the biggest vaccination programme Wales has ever seen and the NHS is working incredibly hard to get the vaccine to as many people as possible, safely and as quickly as we can.

“People will be invited to come and have a vaccination at a clinic close to their home or at one of the mass vaccination centres. I know everyone is really keen to get their jab but please wait until you are contacted for your turn.

“Vaccination will give us a path out of this pandemic but it will take us a little while to protect all the people in Wales who need it – this is why it’s so important everyone continues to take steps to protect themselves and their families from coronavirus.”

Data for the number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in Wales will be available every week day from today.

The daily release accounts for the total number of vaccines given until 10pm the previous day, which have been recorded on the COVID-19 Welsh Immunisation System. Actual figures will be higher due to ongoing data entry.

Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire’s candidate for the upcoming Senedd elections has raised concerns over the vaccination rollout in Wales.

Welsh Conservative candidate and Pembrokeshire County Councillor Samuel Kurtz said Wales was ‘falling behind’ in the vaccine rollout following a BBC Wales report.

In the BBC Wales report it is confirmed that while the Welsh Government have received 275,000 doses of the two approved Covid-19 vaccines, only 70,000 people had received their first dose after the first month of rollout.

Senedd Candidate Samuel Kurtz feels Wales is ‘falling behind’ in the vaccine rollout (Pic S Kurtz)

Commenting on this report, Cllr Kurtz said: “A month into the vaccination rollout and the Welsh Government have yet to administer half of the vaccines they’ve received. It really does feel like Wales is falling behind.

“While Mark Drakeford may want to say the rollout is not a race, people are rightly looking towards the vaccines as a way to bring this hugely difficult chapter in our history to an end and, more importantly, to save lives.

“We’ve known for months that a mass vaccine rollout will be needed, yet it feels like the Welsh Government have been caught off guard and ill-prepared.

“I’m pleased to see local GP surgeries preparing to deliver the vaccine to their patients and urge the Welsh Government to provide them with all the support they may need to make this rollout a success.”

Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister Andrew RT Davies called for a “vaccine army,” led by a Welsh Government Vaccine Minister.

“For weeks now we have been highlighting the slow rollout of the Covid vaccine in Wales and yet still the Welsh Government dither and delay,” he said.

“Instead of getting on and actually delivering what they need to do, we just get told that we need to be patient and this isn’t a sprint.

“The Welsh Government has the vaccine doses and they have the power to get it out to the people that need it the most. They’ve been caught off guard and yet still don’t seem to be in any rush.

“We need a Government Minister to have the single job of delivering their vaccine with the full resources of the Welsh Government alongside NHS Wales, GPs, Pharmacists and anyone else that can help. We need a vaccine army, backed up by our Armed Forces, to get the job done. We cannot afford any more delay.”

In an open letter to the Health Minister, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, health spokesperson for Plaid Cymru, also called for greater clarity on the vaccine deployment programme, in order to build public trust.

Mr ap Iorwerth raised “real concerns” over the pace, transparency and communications of the programme, and says that the public “simply want to know when they might expect the vaccine.”

He called for a dashboard of information that would allow the public to track progress for themselves, including volume of doses delivered and administered by health board and by priority group.

He said it would “go far” in helping to restore public trust.

Using examples of international good practice, Mr ap Iorwerth asks whether the Health Minister would consider measures such as:

Vaccination centres open 7 days a week

The widespread availability of drive-through style vaccination centres

Reducing wastage by allowing prepared vaccines to be given on a ‘first come first served’ basis at the end of the day.

“There are real concerns about the vaccine deployment programme, not least regarding the pace, transparency and communications during these initial stages. People simply want to know when they might expect the vaccine,” Rhun ap Iorwerth said.

“Setting out targets in Welsh Government’s vaccination plan, and including a dashboard of information which answers questions around how the numbers of doses by health board and priority group, will go far in helping to build public trust, as they will be able to track progress for themselves.

“We have a short period of weeks before the damage of strict conditions, in particular school closures, become even more significant. We also currently have a virus infecting more people every week than are receiving the vaccine. Expanding the pace and scale of vaccination is thus essential, as is restoring public confidence that governments have a plan for winning this battle against the virus.”

 

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Brand new features unveiled at Scolton Manor Park

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ONE of Pembrokeshire’s best-loved family destinations has announced it will be unveiling several new attractions in June, ready for the summer holidays.  

Among the new features at Scolton Manor are an eco-explorer village, a 1.2km woodland cycle track, an outdoor pirate ship play area and a dedicated railway attraction complete with steam train locomotive ‘Margaret’ and ‘Scolton Express’ play train.

Mark Thomas, manager of Scolton Manor Park, said the team were looking forward to showing visitors the new attractions.

“We’re delighted with our new facilities and believe they will perfectly complement the attractions we have here already at Scolton,” he said.

The woodland eco-explorer village aims to give children more opportunities for outside play and spark their enthusiasm to discover more about the natural world.  

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Economy, Tourism, Culture and Leisure, said the village is perfect for all young explorers from toddlers right through to older children.

“Children love playing outside and we want to inspire them through their play to not only find out more about biodiversity and the environment but also how to care for it,” he said.

“As well as eco-explorer areas, games and activities there will be fun tips on how they can reuse, reduce and recycle more and protect the environment.”

The eco-explorer village is funded by a £50,000 grant from the Landfill Disposals Tax Community Scheme and £25,000 grant from Community Facilities Programme (Welsh Government), in partnership with the Pembrokeshire Beekeepers’ Association.

Mark Thomas said the current attractions at Scolton have also proved very popular since the outdoor areas at the park re-opened to the public earlier this spring.

As well as an adventure play area for older children which includes a 30-metre zip wire, a spinning climbing web and ‘super swings’,  younger visitors can enjoy the wooden playground, sensory musical play area and woodland play features.

“The many and varied attractions at Scolton enhance its role as a community facility while providing a wide range of countryside experiences at a lower cost,” said Mark.

“The new features in particular will also help to continue the development of the site into a must-visit tourist attraction within mid and North Pembrokeshire.”

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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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