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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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Masks now advised in all secondary schools

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PUPILS across Wales are now being advised to wear facemasks in all communal areas of secondary schools (including playgrounds), colleges and on transport to and from places of learning by the Welsh Government.

Although not compulsory, the new recommendations have been made by ministers to ensure a consistent approach in tackling COVID-19 across Wales.

People picking up and dropping off children are also advised to wear face coverings too to minimise the risk of catching or passing on COVID-19.

The new guidance, aimed mainly at secondary schools, which the Education Minister has described as ‘easy to follow’ was announced today and now means that the only spaces where staff and pupils can safely remove their facemasks is in the classroom.

The majority of councils already require secondary pupils and staff to wear masks in corridors and on most school transport with those rules extended to primary pupils too in some areas.

Education minister Kirsty Williams said: “It is vital that young people, parents, adults and the workforce feel confident that all measures are being taken to ensure the educational environments are as safe as possible.

“We have been clear that we will keep every policy under review and will continue to follow scientific advice. The policy we are announcing today does just that”.

The new advice has been recommended by the Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Group (Tag), which has been looking at the “possibility of wearing face coverings for older age groups in more circumstances, including on public and dedicated transport” and could “even include in the classroom on a risk assessed basis…. balancing benefits with harms to overall wellbeing of students.”

Tag is also looking at how feasible a mass asymptomatic testing programme in schools and colleges could be, the Welsh Government has said it is considering that approach.

Debbie Thomas, Head of Policy at the National Deaf Children’s Society Cymru, said: “Face masks and coverings in communal areas could have serious consequences for Wales’ 2,500 deaf children, almost all of whom rely on lip reading and facial expressions to communicate.
“Socialising in corridors, break time chats and playground games are all rites of passage, but deaf young people now risk missing out because they can’t understand what others are saying. They’re also more likely to experience loneliness, isolation and bullying.
“Public health is the priority, but schools and colleges must move quickly to introduce reasonable adjustments to help deaf young people during this difficult time.”

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Two day centres to close temporarily as a precaution

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TWO north Pembrokeshire Day facilities for older people and people with learning disabilities are to close temporarily as a precaution following the rise in coronavirus cases in Ceredigion.

Bro Preseli Day Centre in Crymych and Wintern Day Centre, Goodwick, are to close temporarily from tomorrow (Tuesday, November 24).

The decision to close each site will be reviewed regularly.

It is emphasised that there have been no positive cases of Covid-19 detected at either site and the temporary closures have been put in place as a precaution.

 

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North Pembrokeshire schools remain closed

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THE SIX North Pembrokeshire schools which were closed today (Monday, November 23) as a precaution following the increased spread of coronavirus in South Ceredigion, will remain closed tomorrow (Tuesday, November 23).

The Pembrokeshire schools are:

• Ysgol Preseli
• Ysgol y Frenni
• Ysgol Llandudoch
• Ysgol Eglwyswrw
• Ysgol Cilgerran
• Ysgol Clydau.

The Pembrokeshire schools are closed as a precaution as they share services – such as transport – with the Ceredigion schools.

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