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Winter ops axe causes outrage

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withybushhosp-5464760HYWEL Dda Local Health Board announced controversial plans this week to make major cutbacks to winter services that will profoundly affect patients awaiting operations at Withybush Hospital.
The decision has enraged local politicians, as well as a leading union, along with scores of patients who will be adversely affected by these cuts.
In a press release issued on their web site, the Hywel Dda LHB said: “The Health Board has a responsibility to ensure continued safe care at this time of increased pressure, and is putting plans in place now to respond to the anticipated increase in activity over the winter season.
‘’In previous winters, we had up to 160 additional beds in place often being managed by temporary staff. This is not a position we can sustain this year. To address this, we propose to manage our bed stock and elective surgical lists in a better way during the busiest months this winter to ensure we have the staff capacity to manage emergencies and the most urgent patients.
‘’We would like to reassure patients that if they have an urgent clinical need they will be seen. Emergency and cancer procedures, the vast majority of orthopaedic day surgery and other elective procedures will also continue.”
The proposals announced by the Health Board state that the use of theatres will be for those with the highest clinical need and they will be reviewing and re-profiling patients on orthopaedic waiting lists, as well as increasing day surgery cases and maximising alternative methods of treatment through non-surgical pathways.
They further state they will monitor the position on a weekly basis and review that position towards the end of the winter surge. There will also be a non-emergency surgical shutdown for two weeks over Christmas.
One such patient awaiting surgery is Angela Burns, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire AM, who is highly critical of the proposals.
She told The Herald: “This shutdown will unfairly hit the elderly and vulnerable hardest, many of whom would have been waiting for months already. While conditions requiring orthopaedic surgery may not be life threatening, the constant pain, loss of mobility and pure daily effort to live with these conditions is immense.
‘’The thought of waiting another six months for my own knee replacement fills me with dread, and I know there are many, many more in far worse situations and far more pain than myself. I cannot begin to comprehend the feelings of some people who attend my surgeries to tell me that they cannot stand long enough to cook, and rely on ready meals alone.
‘’My heart goes out to these patients and their families and I will fight loudly and consistently against these plans. Labour’s record-breaking cuts and its failure to recruit staff are hampering hardworking staff and I urge ministers to put an end to these mistakes”.
The Health Service union, UNISON, reacted angrily to the Health Board plans and, Branch Chairperson, Wendy Evans, said: “The Health Board already has a waiting time of 15 months for patients awaiting orthopaedic surgery. This will clearly add at least another five to six months to their waiting time, causing further distress and possibly further complications to their condition”.
She went on to say that UNISON had immediately written to the Health Minister, Mr Mark Drakeford to complain about the decision. UNISON also suggested that, in staff meetings at Prince Philip Hospital of this week, the Orthopaedic consultant surgeons were also deeply critical of the plans.
UNISON Regional Organiser, Jeff Baker, said: “This is another example of the Health Board making a unilateral decision on service changes without properly consulting either the staff or the community.”
Liberal Democrat, William Powell, AM for Mid and West Wales, has called for clarity following UNISON’s claims, that all planned orthopaedic surgery for the four main hospitals in the Hywel Dda Health Board area have been cancelled until April 2014.
He said: “The Welsh Labour Government and local Health Boards seem surprised that winter comes around every year. Cold weather and snow can cause difficulties in the NHS but proper planning would ensure that patients are treated all year round.
‘’Many people who are waiting for orthopaedic surgery often have to endure months in pain. It is not right that they have to wait even longer because of the Welsh Labour Government’s incompetence. This is not an acceptable way to run a National Health Service”.
Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas, who sits on the all-party Finance Committee of the National Assembly, added his concern: “The scrapping of non-urgent surgery is bitterly disappointing for my constituents. It is disappointing that saving money comes before ensuring people get their operations, when the Welsh NHS has had extra money in their budgets this year.
‘’Earlier this year, Plaid Cymru highlighted the lack of action by Welsh Health Boards to recruit more doctors and more nurses from across the European Union.”
The Herald spoke exclusively to Pam O’Dare, one of the unfortunate patients who are likely to be told their wait for hip surgery is to be extended as a result of these cut backs.
She reacted angrily to what she sees as grim news: “I was under the impression my surgery would be in December or January. Now, it is likely to be put back to April 2014, and it might be a lot further on than that.
‘’I had a hip replacement four years ago and the surgeons were excellent, but the wait is very painful. The pain can be very bad and I am taking some very strong painkillers. I have a high pain threshold but this is unbearable. Why is it always about cut backs for patients?”
The Welsh Government appeared to have been caught on the hop by Hywel Dda LHB’s announcement. At questions in the Senedd, First Minister Carwyn Jones revealed he was given 24 hours’ notice of its content.
The Herald contacted the Welsh Government for further comment: “The Health Minister stated at a recent Health and Social Services Committee meeting that his expectation is for winter plans to be published by individual health boards, once they have been through clearance with their individual boards. We are writing to health boards confirming this expectation.”
Meanwhile, patients like Pam O’Dare and AM, Angela Burns, wait to find out what effect these proposals will have on an already lengthy waiting time.

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Extra police patrols at Tenby skate park after ‘men approached young girls’

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CONCERNED locals in Tenby have taken to social media to write about concerns of inappropriate behaviour – between males they think may have been asylum seekers currently housed at Penally Army Camp – and young girls in Tenby.

The police have said they are investigating the matter.

Witnesses have said that young girls have been approached by males while at the skate park in Tenby.

The Home Office has said that the camp will be used to house up to 250 male asylum seekers whilst their claims are processed due to a shortage of alternative accommodation, caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Reports circulating on Facebook have claimed to have direct knowledge that male residents of the camp have been talking and exchanging contact information with local school girls, some suggesting that they were in school uniform when talking with the men.

However, the police have not confirmed that that is the case – it remains an unproved allegation.

One local claimed on Facebook: “So tonight a few of us concerned local parents decided to go to Tenby skate park.

“As we got there two young girls where sat on a bench waiting for someone.

“Some kids told us they were the ones talking to the men yesterday exchanging Snap Chat details and stuff.

“Then the men from the day before turned up… saw us and scurried off down the beach.

“The two girls then quickly wandered off.

“These girls were about 14.”

One resident had stated that they had reported the incidents he had seen and heard to the local police station, he claimed that an officer told him they were in talks with Greenhill School about the incidents.

Pembrokeshire County Council said that they are unable to comment on the alleged incidents, however a spokesman told The Herald in a statement: “All I would say is that our schools regularly advise pupils not to engage with strangers.”

Dyfed-Powys Police confirmed they are investigating two alleged incidents at the skate park, and have been in contact with the local schools.

A police spokesperson told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “We have received two reports of alleged inappropriate behaviour at the skate park in Tenby and are looking to speak to the people who contacted us.

“In the meantime the skate park is now part of our patrol plans and we have linked in with local schools to reinforce the School Beat Stay SMART online messaging.”

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Off-duty lifesavers were lost but ready to react

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A PEMBROKESHIRE man whose life was saved by multiple twists of fate has praised those who stepped in during his hour of need.

Keen amateur triathlete Steven Landrey, 51, of Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, was out on a post-lockdown bike ride when he suffered a cardiac arrest that was to set off the incredible chain of events.

Steven said: “We were about 40km into an 80km ride when it happened.

“It was strange and lucky as only two weeks earlier I was running alone in Paris, and the night before I swam 2km alone in the sea, and during lockdown had done lots of exercise on my own.

“But that day, I had met my brother-in-law, Chris, and some friends.

“I dread to think what would have happened if I would have been alone.”

Meanwhile, just a mile or so away was off-duty Welsh Ambulance Service Community First Responder Angharad Hodgson, from Martletwy, and her firefighter partner Steve Bradfield, from Narbeth.

Steven Landrey, 51, of Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire

“We were heading to meet friends at Barfundle Beach. We hadn’t been there for a few years so were following the sat-nav in the car,” said Angharad.

“We were running late and had taken a wrong turn as the sat-nav must have frozen or lost signal.

“We decided to turn back on ourselves, and that’s when we saw Steven on the floor being worked on by Chris.”

Always travelling with their defibrillator and kit, Angharad and Steve, who is also a trained medical responder, were able to pull over swiftly and step in with their life-saving defibrillator.

Angharad, 23, said: “We put the pad on his chest and after about 30 manual chest compressions, Steven had stopped breathing and the defibrillator told us we could shock him twice.

“We did it and he came back to us, but his breathing was very sticky so we continued CPR until the air and land ambulances arrived to take over.”

Steven was taken by road to Swansea’s Morriston Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery to fit a stent into a lower left artery of his heart, which had flooded with blood and caused the cardiac arrest.

Steven is making a good recovery at home and is taking the first steps back to work in his role as a European Managing Director for Babcock Aviation, an aerial emergency services business.

He said: “I’m working with the National Cardiac Referral Scheme and also a personal trainer and am feeling well and getting strength back every day.

“With my work, I have seen emergency care provision across Europe and Canada and the care I received at every step of the way here in Wales has been world-class.

“I can’t thank Chris, Angharad, Steve, the air ambulance crew and the paramedics enough, along with the doctors and surgeons at Morriston, they were all amazing.

“I realise everything went my way that day, and for those few hours I was the luckiest man alive, but having these trained people in our communities to support emergency medical services is absolutely vital.

“Community First Responders like Angharad, CPR training and Public Access Defibrillators really do save lives and are to be respected.”

Glyn Thomas, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Community First Responder Officer in Mid and West Wales, said: “The prompt actions of Angharad and Steve were no doubt a major factor in the patient’s survival.

“Even off-duty as they were, they demonstrated control and organisation – they are both a credit to their communities and organisations.

“We wish Steven a smooth recovery and all the best for the future.”

Today is Restart a Heart Day, a national initiative run by the Resuscitation Council UK, British Heart Foundation, St John Ambulance and the ambulance services across the UK to promote education around Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

In the absence of physical events due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Welsh Ambulance Service is encouraging people to watch a video by Resuscitation Council UK and keep an eye on social media from partners like Save a Life Cymru who are promoting key messages such as early recognition of cardiac arrest, early CPR and early defibrillation.

Restart a Heart Day runs parallel to the Trust’s month-long Shoctober campaign which aims to educate primary school children on the benefits of getting confident with CPR – even making this brilliant animated video.

Angharad, who also works for the local authority’s social services team in Pembrokeshire, has been a Community First Responder since April 2019 and was inspired to make that brave step by another incident back in 2018.

She said: “I was driving home from shopping along the A40 in Carmarthen when I came across a terrible car accident on the opposite carriageway.

“I pulled my car over and crossed the road to try and assist without any thought process really.

“Seeing the work of the paramedics on scene really spurred me on to become a Community First Responder.

“I’d like to thank Tony Wall who is my CFR Co-ordinator for being so supportive and giving so much of his time to fundraise for life saving equipment such as defibrillators in local communities.”

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Employees at Pembroke Power Station raise over £10,000 for good causes

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COLLEAGUES at Pembroke Power Station have raised £10,300 for the NHS (National COVID Response) and Pembrokeshire-based, GTBAL (Get the Boys a Lift).

The money was raised via a new initiative launched by the power outage team at Pembroke Power Station in June. ‘Coins’ were awarded to individuals and teams throughout June, July and August who demonstrated positive safety behaviour on site. Throughout the Summer, hundreds of positive safety moments and suggestions were recorded and rewarded with ‘coins’.

Members of the team were encouraged to actively engage with newly implemented COVID-19 site safety procedures through various activities. Games and activities such as the coin toss kept staff aware of safety procedures while providing them with a reason to engage. Colleagues were invited to throw a coin at a marking on the floor two metres away, those who hit the mark were awarded a prize. Games such as these provided fun, non-intrusive reminders of the need for social distancing in the workplace and encouraged employees to talk openly about safety measures.

Ensuring that no safe, positive behaviour was missed, supervisors and colleagues were encouraged to nominate team members who displayed a proactive approach to keeping site operations safe and employee welfare a priority.

The money raised by the outage team at Pembroke Power Station will be split evenly between the NHS (COVID-19 Response) which aims to support staff and volunteers caring for COVID-19 patients and Pembrokeshire-based GTBAL. Get the Boys a Lift is a local charity which runs a free drop-in centre to help improve mental health within the community as well as those further afield.

Richard Little, Pembroke Power Station manager said; “The money raised by our dedicated team at Pembroke Power Station is testament to their commitment to the raising of safety standards and to giving back to those within their community. Together, our employees have come together to drive forward the conversation on COVID-19 safety measures and mental health awareness. The response we received from team members has been extremely positive. Their willingness to throw themselves into making the working environment better for everyone, while having some fun along the way is admirable. I want to thank them all for their dedication.”

Ryan Evans, managing/fundraising director at GTBAL, comments: “The money generated will help us to fund our free drop-in centre, which we use to provide support for people in the community. ‘Our place’ provides somewhere for people to pop in for a coffee and someone to chat to about anything that may be bothering them. If people need to see a counsellor, your donations will pay for this. The money you’ve raised will pay for nearly 150 hours of counselling, helping many people work through their issues.”

RWE generates over 10% of the UK’s electricity needs, with a combination of flexible power assets in addition to wind and solar. The fleet includes over 7GW of flexible CCGT, some biomass and hydro: RWE has set the ambitious target of being carbon neutral by 2040.

Pembroke Safety for Charity Initiative

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