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12 hour A&E service would be ‘end game’ for Withybush Hospital

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Protest: Cardiff earlier this year

Protest: Cardiff earlier this year

A LEAKED document has revealed 24 hour A&E services are to be cut at Withybush General Hospital and replaced with a 12-hour service, The Pembrokeshire Herald understands.

A report prepared by Dr Iain Roberston-Steele has been revealed on-line on the SWAT website. The letter states: “It is no longer possible to sustain a traditional 24/7 A&E service at Withybush General Hospital based on middle grade locums and locum consultants”.

Health Board chairman Bernardine Rees was asked by councillors at Full Council recently if the A&E would remain a 24 hour services seven days a week, but she did not confirm that it would.

The shocking document also reveals that since the downgrade in paediatric services overnight there has been increased burden on the out of hours service and that too is branded as “short staffed and at risk”.

The leaked letter says that staffing issues led to the latest crisis in the service, and that a solution needs to be found.Other services that Withybush should not provide services for patients where further or onward care is required will also include ENT, ophthalmology, urology, palliative care, oncology, paediatrics, gynaecology and other specialist services, according to the document.

“Limiting provision at WGH to those services at WGH which are fully staffed and skilled,” it adds.

SWAT chairman Dr Chris Overton told The Herald that the news was  the “end game” for Withybush Hospital. He added: “As predicted for many many years, there will be nothing much will be left at the hospital”

The hospital action group has previously raised concerns that the knock on effect of services removal will result in changes having to be made at Withybush A&E.

Stephen Crabb MP told The Herald: “This leaked document appears to confirm our worst fears about what Hywel Dda and Mark Drakeford have got planned for Withybush. A dark cloud is hanging over the future of our hospital.”

“The removal of a 24 hour A&E service from Withybush is just unacceptable. The Welsh Health Minister should stop hiding away in Cardiff and come down to Pembrokeshire to either denounce these reckless plans or explain why he thinks they make our community safer. People in Pembrokeshire deserve more than behind-the-scenes plotting.”

“Today the UK Government is giving Welsh Ministers an extra £70 million as a result of the increase in English NHS spending. I have asked that the Welsh Government confirm that it will use this money solely for Welsh health services. After all the recent cuts to services, Pembrokeshire should be first in the queue for this spending.”

Party of Wales Mid and West Assembly Member Simon Thomas said: “This is another broken promise on the Welsh NHS by Labour Ministers in Cardiff Bay. I will demand answers from the Welsh Government in the Senedd at the first opportunity to do so on this issue. The people of Pembrokeshire deserve better A&E services.”

“This development about emergency services at Withybush Hospital is very concerning indeed. Welsh Ministers rejected my concerns that losing 24/7 paediatrics would undermine the long term viability of A&E.

“I suspected this but I am amazed it has come so soon. The people of west Wales have been misled by Labour. A Plaid Cymru Welsh Government would recruit 1,000 extra doctors. We would train new doctors to keep services local.”

South Pembrokeshire MP Simon Hart said: “I have not seen first-hand the report that SWAT refers to but if it is accurate, then everything we feared is coming true.  This is death by a thousand cuts for Withybush.  Hywel Dda Health Board has struggled with these staffing issues for years and has yet to solve the problem.  If they are going to use “staff shortages” as an excuse to close any department where they can’t recruit then this will become self fulfilling. We already know that one reason for the GP shortages in the county is the uncertainty over the future of the hospital. Mark Drakeford and the Welsh Government in Cardiff needs to get a grip of this situation and bring this uncertainty to an end.”

Commenting on reports that 24 hour Accident and Emergency, and other specialist services are to be removed from Withybush Hospital, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams AM said: “This news is obviously a huge blow to communities across Pembrokeshire, especially all the campaigners that have worked tirelessly to keep their local services open. A quick response is vital for people suffering from trauma and accidents, and cutting 24 hour A&E cover could well put lives at risk.

“The fact that these services are seen as unsustainable at all shows that there is a major recruitment crisis in our NHS that the Welsh Labour Government seems determined to ignore. I have been repeatedly calling for a cross-party commission with doctor, nurse and patient representatives to sort out the major problems and plan for the future of our NHS. Today’s news shows that this commission can’t come soon enough.”

William Powell, the Welsh Liberal Democrat AM for Mid and West Wales, added: “Having supported local campaigners in their efforts to protect these services since 2006, this is obviously a huge disappointment. Removing specialist services and a full A&E from Withybush will leave it as nothing more than a glorified cottage hospital, with no equivalent services for miles around.

“With a health board intent on centralising services and a Welsh Labour Government content with them doing so, the people of Pembrokeshire deserve better.”

Spekaing for the Health Board, Medical Director Dr Sue Fish said: “I would like to reassure staff and members of the public that the Emergency and Urgent Care Centre at Withybush General Hospital remains open 24-hours a day and the University Health Board continues to be committed to the long term provision of this service. Senior clinicians continue to meet, and indeed clinicians and managers from across Hywel Dda are meeting today, to discuss how we continue to maintain safe, high quality services with ongoing and significant recruitment challenges. These challenges are faced by many NHS organisations across the UK and are a particular challenge at Withybush EUCC currently. The document referred to is the viewpoint of a single consultant at one point in time and represents no decision by the University Health Board. Changes to paediatric services at the hospital have not resulted in this position, which is a reflection of the ongoing recruitment challenges discussed.

Associate Medical Director for Quality and Safety Iain Robertson Steel added: “I would like to make it clear that this was a private and confidential paper that presents only one contribution from amongst a number being discussed and I am deeply distressed that this has been leaked without the full context.”

letterA letterB letterC letterD

 

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Business

Bug Farm explains rush to keep people and animals safe as raging wildfire approached

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A PEMBROKESHIRE business has taken to the internet to thank everyone who has supported them throughout the recent grass fires. The management of Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm said on Facebook: “Thank you everyone for your kind comments about the fire.

“Being told that you may lose your family home, cows and nature reserve is rather sobering.

The business describes itself as a visitor and research centre located on a farm wildlife reserve grazed by our Tyddewi Herd of Welsh Black cattle. IT has a focus on invertebrates (bugs) alongside sustainable food and farming, they are also home of Grub Kitchen & Bug Farm Foods. 

However all of that was hanging in the balance with people and animals threatened by the oncoming flames.

Ongoing battle: Tabitha and Andy extinguishing a reignition.

They explained: “With the fire just one field away from them, our first priority was getting our cows to a safer area. We had a team of ecologists working on the land who thankfully saw the fire and got away in time. Then we looked up and said: “oh my gosh, the house”.

“All my memories of my late mum and dad were in the house. We drove through the smoke and flames to reach it. I will never forget seeing the small mammals running for their lives across the road, in particular a rabbit with charred fur that stopped in the middle of the road and looked straight at me before carrying on. The firefighters said their priority was trying to save the first 5 houses of Nun Street if possible.

“Ours was number 1, the house nearest to the fire. I was allowed one dash in by the firefighters to grab what I could. Typically, the fire expanded behind me, with Andy the other side of it not being able to contact me. It was completely terrifying for everyone.

No entry: The fire jumped a road at one point during the incident

“A huge thank you to my cousin Rachel and Nick for hosing down the garden as the fire reached the garden hedge and closing all the windows of the house while I grabbed precious memories. Thanks to a monumental effort, our house, Tabitha’s home, the cows and most of our fledgling nature reserve at Penweathers are safe. The fire team were amazing.

“After putting the main blaze out on Saturday, they must have returned 4 or 5 times on Sunday, when we, Adam Vincent at Clwb and the TYF Adventure guides couldn’t control the blazes.

“Following advice from the fire officer, Andy did an amazing job on Saturday night and Sunday cutting fire breaks around our meadows as a preventative measure to stop the fire spreading to the houses in St Davids and the cathedral cemetery if it reignited (which it did…time and time again).

“Tabitha and Angela worked tirelessly with us and Adam putting out the fires and a big thanks to Lou for helping out too.

Devastation: Scorched earth remains after the blaze was extinguished

“On Sunday, two big fires started, one at Newgale and another at a South Pembs recycling centre, and all the fire teams in the county were called away. It was an odd feeling on Sunday evening, hearing the local fire officer saying that all engines in west Wales were deployed elsewhere so, if it re-started, we were pretty much on our own and so we should do everything we could to extinguish the new, small fires so they couldn’t escalate.

“We managed to keep on top of the small fires and smoking bales thanks to regular patrols and local residents calling us whenever they spotted smoke so we could rush to extinguish new fires before they got too big.

Destroyed by fire: Shed’s seen better days

“After almost 24 hours of fire-free time, we thought we had won and then, on Tuesday afternoon, got a call to say that smoke had been spotted again.

“By the time we arrived, Adam was extinguishing a smoking bale and then we found a smoking hawthorn tree in a largely unburnt hedge, at the edge of what had burnt: within seconds, the trunk was glowing bright red, with flames starting to spread.

Fire appliances responding to the blaze

“Thanks to the rain, we had our first fire-free day yesterday (the second busiest day of the year at The Bug Farm). Please bear with us over the next few days if we are a bit zombie-like, we are all exhausted and still a bit shaken, but so, so thankful that it has ended how it has.

Scale of burned area and proximity to residential property can be seen clearly in this shot

“The fire burnt through our neighbour’s arable land and improved grassland, destroying the crops, but seemed to skirt around our wildlife habitat, going through the hedge banks but not making it across our fields, despite them being long grass meadows. Having been told at least 5 times over the past few days that it is: “long grass and bl**dy rewilding like you are doing” that is causing these fires to spread, it is worth noting that the re-wetted marshy grassland stopped the fire in its tracks and stopped it getting to the cemetery and to St Davids houses on Nun Street – you can see it very clearly in the pictures below. Oh and it started by someone leaving glass bottles on the footpath.

“Please take your litter home and don’t smoke or have barbecues in the countryside in a drought.

“Lots of people have kindly offered to help. If you would like to help, please grab gloves and a bag and walk the Pilgrim’s Way footpath that is now partially burnt, picking up glass bottles, cans and other human detritus that is now visible to help stop this happening again.

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Entertainment

Outstanding tenor to give a recital in Rhosygilwen as first full week of music festival gets underway in Pembrokeshire

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AN OUTSTANDING tenor will start the first full week of concerts by the Fishguard and West Wales International Music Festival 2022. Stuart Jackson was a choral scholar at Christ Church, Oxford before completing his training at the Royal Academy of Music in 2013 where he studied with Ryland Davies. 

He has performed at Glyndebourne, Stuttgart Opera ,the BBC Proms and at numerous major festivals, He will be accompanied on the piano by Jocelyn Freeman at his recital next week in Rhosygilwen on Monday August 22.

St Mary’s Church Haverfordwest will be the venue for London Brass on Wednesday, August 23. Described as ‘the UK’s most famous and long-established brass ensemble’, they have appeared in concerts worldwide. 

The Welsh National Opera Orchestra will return to the Festival at the end of the week to give two concerts. Their concert at St David’s Cathedral on Thursday will feature music by Benjamin Britten, Mahler and Dvorak with acclaimed mezzo soprano Dame Sarah Connolly. 

The WNO Chamber Ensemble will end the first week of concerts with a recital at St Mary’s Church, Haverfordwest.

Further concerts will follow with artists including Llyr Williams, Peter Donohoe, Rebecca Evans, The Marian Consort, Sacconi Quartet and the European Union Chamber Orchestra.

Gillian Green MBE, Artistic Director of the Festival, said: “A feast of world class music covering six centuries awaits audiences over the next three weeks in one of the most beautiful parts of Wales. The Festival is very excited about the variety of events on offer from now until early September comprising orchestral, choral and chamber music, solo recitals together with folk and world music.”

Dates for this year’s Fishguard and West Wales International Music Festival are Saturday, August 20 to Saturday, September 10 2022.

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News

South West Wales enters a state of Drought as dry weather continues

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FOLLOWING the extended period of dry weather, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has confirmed that the trigger thresholds have been met to move South West Wales into drought status from Friday, August 19.

NRW’s decision to move from prolonged dry weather status to drought for the area was agreed and shared with a meeting of the Welsh Government’s Drought Liaison Group and after consideration of the exacerbated pressures the high temperatures and lack of significant rainfall have had on the environment in this area.

The rest of Wales remains in prolonged dry weather status but concerns still remain. While essential supplies of water remain safe, the public and businesses in drought affected areas should be very mindful of the pressures on water resources and should use water wisely.  NRW continues to closely monitor the situation across Wales, working with partners and will take action as required.  

Natalie Hall, Sustainable Water Manager for NRW, said: “Prolonged dry weather can lead to drought when rainfall remains low. This can impact some of our most precious habitats and species as well as systems we often take for granted, such as our water supplies.

“We have decided to declare a state of drought in South West Wales after it was clear the lack of rain and recent heat have put a huge strain on our rivers, reservoirs and groundwater levels.“

The areas affected are:

  • North Ceredigion (Rheidol, Aeron, Ystwyth)
  • Teifi
  • Pembrokeshire (Eastern and Western Cleddau)
  • Carmarthen (Tywi and Taf)
  • Swansea and Llanelli (Tawe and Loughor)
  • Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend (Neath, Afan, Ogmore)

South West Wales received just 65.5% of its average rainfall in July and all river levels in the area are lower than expected for this time of the year, with the Ewenny, Teifi and Taf exceptionally low.

Low groundwater levels coupled with record high temperatures, have also put a strain on the region’s ecosystems as well as public water supplies in Pembrokeshire and parts of Carmarthenshire.

The rest of the country continues to experience a period of prolonged dry weather, despite there being some recent rainfall.

Across the rest of Wales, the majority of rivers across Wales are lower than expected for the time of year, with many exceptionally low including the Alyn, Conwy, Clwyd, Taf, Teifi, Ewenny, Wye, Usk and Ebbw. 

Between March and July Wales received just 61% of its expected rainfall resulting in the driest five-month period in 40 years

NRW is advising the residents of Pembrokeshire to follow water conservation advice given by Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water, who have introduced a temporary use ban,  more commonly known as a hosepipe ban, which will also come into effect today (Friday 19 August).

NRW and Welsh Government (WG) also attend the national drought group for England to address any cross-border concerns.

Natalie added: “While certain parts of Wales may be experiencing rain, it can still take a long time to recover from drought, making water a precious resource.

“We’re urging the public to save water where possible; you can find the latest ad advice on water by visiting your water company’s website or Waterwise (www.waterwise.org.uk).

“Please report any incidents on the current dry weather on our 24-hour hotline on 0300 065 3000.”

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