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Cancer care chaos

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• Specialist beds lost in further cuts to Withybush General Hospital

LOCAL healthcare services have been cut again. The Herald can reveal that specialist inpatient cancer care has ended at Withybush, with cancer patients now being treated in general medicine. 

Withybush HospitalOncology and palliative care beds have been re-designated which means that patients needing urgent cancer care cannot be admitted direct to Ward 10. Instead, patients face assessment in A&E before admission before being shared around noncancer specialists to supervise their care. It appears as though despite hundreds of thousands of pounds being raised for Ward 10, the Board is rapidly retreating from its commitment to maintain cancer care services in Pembrokeshire.

As from Friday September 19, there is no longer an on-site consultant oncologist at Withybush for the foreseeable future. Instead of specialist care, cancer patients will be allocated to other physicians and trainees within cancer care will be palmed off onto other consultant physicians. The Pembrokeshire Herald has been informed that a potential consultant oncologist, who has settled in the area, has instead gone to Bronglais where he can achieve certainty and security in his career. The Health Board has been obliged to apply a “sticking plaster” solution by asking Dr Anne Barnes MBE to come out of retirement and work part-time to provide oncology support.

Dr Barnes, awarded an MBE for her services to cancer care in Pembrokeshire, announced her retirement at the beginning of 2014. The Board failed to advertise for a replacement until shortly before she left the Board’s employment in June this year. The Pembrokeshire Herald understands that while doctors are prepared to take up the training of those student doctors previously assigned to cancer care, no cancer training will take place in Haverfordwest. The Board was informing the Deanery of its position this week.

It is understood the one senior doctor has expressed major concerns, in particular criticising the Board for allocating a locum oncologist to Bronglais for a year and not having an oncologist based at Withybush. The Herald believes that the acute intake at Bronglais for cancer care is under half of that at Withybush. The staffi ng issue is understood to be a substantial worry for those concerned in and about cancer care in Pembrokeshire. It is diffi cult to see how advertising a solitary post for one of the sites will attract applicants if there is no proper planned service. There are clinical concerns about inferior care being provided to Pembrokeshire cancer patients if there are no oncologists to look after them.

The Herald spoke to local campaigner Lyn Neville, who said: “It’s crazy. The Board told me that the change might be because of refurbishment, but this is just mad. It is completely wrong that bearing in mind the number of people who need treatment that the Board has withdrawn this specialist service. I am gobsmacked that Bernadine Rees told us all about a refurbished Ward and new Oncology Lounge and failed to tell us this was coming. Is she as bad as the last bloke?” Anne Barnes commented: “The situation currently is that as from last Monday (Sept 22), there are no longer any dedicated inpatient cancer care services at Withybush. There are no longer any palliative, haematology or oncology beds.

They have been re-designated. They Health Board have their reasons, and have expressed a rational but we feel that things could have been handled differently. I am looking forward to meeting with Acute Services Clinical Director, Dr Sian Lewis, on Monday in the effort to resolve the situation satisfactorily and reinstate services at Withybush for the benefi t of patients in Pembrokeshire.” Ms. Barnes added: “I would encourage patients and their families to make their views known to both the Board and their local and national representatives.”

 

Challenge to Board: Where is Pembrokeshire’s money?

CHRIS EVANS THOMAS of Adam’s Bucketful of Hope and Anne Tadman of Cancer C.O.P.S. were appalled at the Board’s conduct. They said as follows: “On September 8 we were at a meeting chaired by Paul Hawkins, the Board’s Chief Operating Offi cer. At that meeting we were told the Board was committed to providing specialist care. We were told of a green light for a new Ward 10 and Cancer Day Unit. “Now this! Does the right hand not know what the left hand is doing, or is the Board treating us like mushrooms? “Well, enough is enough. If the Board cannot or will not provide the care it has failed to deliver for so long, if the Board cannot keep its promises, we will have the money we have raised back so we can do it. “The Board took £3.9m of money raised in Pembrokeshire and dumped it into a central pot. That money was raised in Pembrokeshire to be spent in Pembrokeshire. All the clever, clever bookkeeping in the world cannot hide that. “So we say: ‘Show us the money!’ “We want to see the books to fi nd out where Pembrokeshire’s money went. We challenge the Board to show us. If they won’t, it will show that the Board has something to hide. If they have been honest and straightforward, they have nothing to fear.”

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Health

Police and drugs advice service issue warning over ‘deadly batch’ of heroin

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POLICE have asked the media to issue a warning over a batch of heroin.

The drug circulating in west Wales, first detected in Llanelli, is particularly dangerous, it has been confirmed.

“We are warning drug users to take extra care following reports of a particularly harmful batch of heroin circulating in the Llanelli area” said a Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson.

“We have reasons to believe some drugs being distributed and used in the Carmarthenshire area at present have been contaminated with other substances and could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately if they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone you believe could come into contact with these drugs.

”In an emergency or if you think someone’s life is at risk always dial 999.”

Earlier this week Barod, the drug and alcohol abuse service reported a dangerous and toxic heroin circulating in Pembroke Dock which a spokesperson described as being ‘potentially deadly’.

To comes as Public Health England issued a formal alert about the risks of heroin containing fentanyl or carfentanyl.

The warning reads: “There is significant evidence from a small number of post-mortem results of recent drug user deaths and from police seizures that some heroin may contain fentanyl or carfentanyl added by dealers.

“These are highly potent synthetic opioids and very small amounts can cause severe or even fatal toxicity.

“Those of you in contact with heroin users should be alert to the increased possibility of overdose arising from heroin cut with these synthetic opioids, be able to recognise possible symptoms of overdose and respond appropriately.”

The fentanyls are a group of synthetic opioids; some have legitimate uses while others are illicit drugs.

Fentanyl is about 100 times more potent than morphine and is a licensed medicine used to treat severe and terminal pain. Carfentanyl is 4,000 – 10,000 times more potent than morphine and principally used as an animal tranquilliser.

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Tenby’s famous walrus ‘Wally’ has been spotted again

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TENBY’S most famous marine animal has been spotted again after fears she had been scared away.

Wally was spotted on Friday evening by the seaside town’s Lifeboat station.

Thought to be a two-year-old male, the walrus’s return comes after it was feared she had been disturbed by people flocking to catch a glimpse of her and “getting too close”

The animal has attracted hundreds of people to the seaside town now that the travel restrictions with Wales have been lifted to coincide with the Easter school holidays.

Wally was last seen on Monday, but  members of the public were warned it was in the animal’s “best interests” to be “left alone” as much as possible and they were urged to “avoid the temptation to get near and disturb” her.

A joint statement was issued by the RSPCA, Tenby harbour master Chris Salisbury, Welsh Marine Life Rescue, Tenby lifeboat coxswain Phil John, British Divers Marine Life Rescue, Natural Resources Wales and CSIP Marine Environmental Rescue said that they were concerned to hear that people had tried to get close by using personal watercraft or paddle and surfboards.

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Police plan to deter badly behaved youths from gathering in Tenby

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POLICE in Tenby responded to community concerns over antisocial behaviour and groups of between 15-20 youths gathering and clashing over the Easter bank holiday weekend. They moved the youths on, seized alcohol from them and stopped matters escalating when there were clashes between the groups. And they have a clear message ahead of this weekend – there will be extra police patrols and presence in Tenby, including on the trains, so this type of behaviour won’t be tolerated.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers used powers under the Antisocial Behaviour Act to disperse groups of youngsters meeting to drink alcohol in and around Tenby, many of whom had travelled by train to the area to meet up.

Based on these scenes from last weekend, plans are in place as part of a joint operation with Pembrokeshire County Council licensing officers and British Transport Police, to address and prevent any further gatherings.

A Section 34 Order is in place covering Tenby, which allows officers to move people out of the area and prevent them from returning for up to 48 hours.

Sergeant Stuart Wheeler said: “Following last weekend we had some concern from the community of Tenby, due to antisocial behaviour related to the groups of youths from Pembroke, Pembroke Dock and Tenby, and subsequently those groups clashing. Alcohol consumption by these youngsters was a factor.

“Proactive action was taken, and we are keen to avoid a repeat of this behaviour this weekend, and have therefore put plans in place. Additional resources have been allocated, which will allow us to respond quickly and prevent matters from escalating.

“Tenby Neighbourhood Policing Team and response officers, will be carrying out high visibility patrols in the area, covering areas known to be popular with youngsters. Pembrokeshire County Council licensing officers will be assisting us in ensuring youngsters can’t buy alcohol in the area by visiting shops and reminding them of the laws around selling alcohol, and if they bring it with them it will be seized. And our colleagues in British Transport Police will be patrolling the train network to prevent problematic groups getting to Tenby by train.”

Police are also appealing to parents and carers to know where their children are, and what they are doing.

Sergeant Wheeler added: “We would like to appeal directly to parents to be aware of where their children are, and prevent them from gathering in large groups. This type of behaviour is distressing for people living and working in Tenby, and we are urging you to be accountable for your children’s actions.

“We understand that the past few months have been difficult, and that children want to see their friends, but remember that only 6 people from 2 households can meet outdoors still. Please do your best to ensure they are adhering to regulations that are in place for all our safety.”

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