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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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Fishguard RNLI launch to attend injured fisherman 13 miles offshore

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FISHGUARD’s RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat launched early on Monday (Jan 17), with a full volunteer crew, to rendezvous with an Irish scalloper fishing boat which had an injured crew member aboard. The 14-metre fishing boat ‘ Golden Fleece’ had requested assistance by making radio contact with HM Coastguard. 

The lifeboat launched at 7.30am in calm conditions and headed to the fishing boat positioned approximately 13 miles north of Cemaes Head. Once on location the injured fisherman, who had suffered a significant finger injury, was transferred to the lifeboat. No further medical assistance was necessary from the lifeboat crew but he was kept under observation during the return journey to Fishguard where he was transferred to an awaiting ambulance upon arrival at 8.30am.   

 

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Brains’ £100 million sell-off plan includes local pubs in Pembrokeshire

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SA BRAINs is close to completing a £100m deal which will see the sale of 100 Wales pubs, including Pembrokeshire locals, it has been reported.

It is reported that Wales most prominent brewers will sell the freeholds to 100 of it’s pubs to a consortium.

Brains currently has a portfolio of 200 pubs across Wales and the South West.

Sources within the pub industry said that the transaction could be signed in the next few days.

The deal is to be made with Song Capital and Cerberus Capital Management, the former owner of Admiral Taverns.

The deal, which is thought to be around the £100m mark, is expected to be used by the Brains’ family shareholders to pay down debt.

The hospitality sector has been hit severely by the Coronavirus pandemic, being forced to close for long periods at a time and then reopening with strict restrictions.

In 2020, Brains struck a deal with Marston’s to operate 141 of its pubs, under the Welsh brewers brand, following financial pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Six Pembrokeshire pubs are earmarked to be included in the transaction; The Ferry Inn, St Dogmaels, Crown Inn, Tenby, Grove Hotel, Narberth, Waterman’s Arms, Pembroke, Harbour Inn, Solva and The Galleon, Broad Haven.

The sale will see the Brains pub estate as a family-owned brewer with a small residual pub portfolio.

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St Clears’ McDonald’s opening delayed for a week

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McDonald's sign

THE OPENING of the new 100-seater McDonald’s in St Clears has been delayed by a week. 

The restaurant, which will be built along the main approach road to Pembrokeshire, aimed to open its doors on Wednesday, January 19. 

However, the company has confirmed that the opening has been postponed until Wednesday, January 26. 

The new McDonald’s will join Haverfordwest and Pembroke Dock McDonald’s as the only members of the company located west of Carmarthen. 

It hoped to provide over 80 full and part time jobs due to being open around the clock. They hosted a recruitment day in December 2021. 

The original applications had previously stated that the McDonald’s would be open 24 hours a day. A premises licence application is currently being made to the County Council for the “provision of late-night refreshments” which, if accepted, would allow the restaurant to be open 24 hours a day.

It will open on the opposite side of the road to Travelodge and Starbucks, which replaced the Little Chef restaurant in 2017.

The restaurant was initially going to include a separate building which would have accommodated a Costa Coffee. However, it will now host a Greggs. 

Alongside this, planning permission has been granted separately for a petrol station with six electric charging points.

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