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What safety net?

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ambulanceTHE REVELATION of the extent of the Welsh Ambulance Service crisis could not come at a worse time for the local health board. 

Having scrapped SCBU and a consultant-led obstetric service and replaced it with a 24/7 dedicated ambulance, the Herald revealed two weeks ago that an advert for staff to crew the vehicle did not expire until after the service at Withybush had been removed. The Herald understands that despite Freemasons providing a specialist transport pod for babies to Withybush Hospital, that equipment has been commandeered for use at Glangwili.

As a result, Pembrokeshire neonates and infants travelling to Glangwili in an emergency will be reliant upon a heated mattress. A standard specification ambulance does not carry the equipment a sick neonate requires. To transport a sick neonate or baby needs specialised transport from the ground up. The ambulance must have the floor attachments to secure 200kg of neonatal transport incubator. All of the equipment must be the size for a neonate. While paramedics will do their best they are not a specialist neonatal transport nurse, of which two are required. Safe in the knowledge that the summer recess was coming, Health Minister Mark Drakeford claimed a robust safety net would be in place to ensure patient safety.

Mr Drakeford has avoided scrutiny for now, but is sure to face questions on how the Board persuaded the government that an understaffed and under-resourced service was either safe or robust. He will hardly need reminding that any mishap or tragedy will be laid firmly at his door. It also appears that despite repeated assurances that mothers will not have to travel outside the health board area to deliver their babies, and in spite of planning the closure of SCBU at Withybush for years, facilities are still not ready at Glangwili.

The Pembrokeshire Herald has been contacted by Martin McGeown, whose wife Bianca is expecting twins, a boy and a girl: “We have had a few complications with the little boy so we were back and forth to Cardiff. We are now in Singleton, Swansea. No cots were available at Carmarthen and we were sent to Bridgend hospital on Friday. “I then drove at 12 at night with Bianca down to Swansea as a bed become available. We were told if no cots were available in Wales we would have had to go to Birmingham that day.

“I’m so sad about our hospital and my heart is with all the midwives who have been treated so badly. I hope we can do something about this, as you don’t realise until it happens to one of you “Me and my family have been pulled from pillar to post not knowing were our children would be born. Swansea Singleton are amazing but deep down it should have been at Withybush. “This is not going to get better and has to be sorted.” Commenting on the closure this week of the Special Care Baby Unit at Withybush Hospital, MP Stephen Crabb said: “I was deeply disappointed to see SCBU close this week. Pembrokeshire residents have fought long and hard to retain this vital service but the Welsh Labour Health Minister has pushed on regardless.”

“I have discussed these changes with both the Health Board and the Welsh Health Minister. At no point have I been reassured about the apparent safety-nets planned to deal with emergencies in future. We do not know if these are even operational. With SCBU now closed, this is a damning indictment of Welsh Labour’s health policy.” “People are right to be concerned. Even if the A40 is free from problems, Welsh ambulance response time targets have been missed year after year. Already this week we have seen reports of police cars across Wales transporting patients to hospital because ambulances are not available.” “I have written again to the Welsh Health Minister voicing my concerns. Pembrokeshire residents deserve, at the very least, to be given assurances that adequate plans are in place for dealing with emergency cases.”

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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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North Pembs Schools update

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FIVE of the six north Pembrokeshire Schools closed as a precautionary measure due to an outbreak of Covid-19 in the Cardigan Area will re-open fully tomorrow (Wednesday, November 25).

They are Ysgol Clydau, Ysgol Eglwyswrw Ysgol Llandudoch, Ysgol Y Frenni and Ysgol Y Preseli.

Pembrokeshire County Council is extremely grateful to everyone for their patience while this situation has been resolved.

Ysgol Cilgerran will be partially open on Wednesday, November 25 as two classes have been identified as contacts of positive cases.

Foundation Phase classes will reopen tomorrow.

The school will provide further detail on its website.

Pembrokeshire School transport will return to normal, including college transport routes which revert back to normal starting points.

However, affected Ceredigion Schools remain closed and the corresponding Pembrokeshire School Transport will remain suspended for these schools.

Crymych Leisure Centre is also to re-open on Wednesday.

Classes must continue to be booked in the usual way.

 

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