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Paediatric care controversy rages on



Still questions to be answered: Stephen Crabb on LHB

Still questions to be answered:
Stephen Crabb on LHB

CLAIMS by local health campaigners that there has been a significant change in the arrangements for out of hours paediatric care at Withybush Hospital have been denied by the Local Health Board. SWAT (Save Withybush Action Team) have reported that from December 1 there will be no paediatric cover after 10:00pm at Withybush’s Accident & Emergency Department. SWAT’s Facebook page has received a significant number of comments and shares since its post of Tuesday (Nov 18) on the topic. Responding to SWAT, a Health Board spokesperson has said that the service model for the delivery of paediatric services has not changed. The Board has, however, not denied that the out of hours services of a middle-grade doctor are to end. The Health Board’s stance, while technically accurate is not the whole story.

The Herald has seen internal Health Board documents that suggest that the services of a middle-grade paediatric specialist were not part of the out-ofhours paediatric service’s long-term delivery plans. At the end of September, Bernadine Rees, the Local Health Board Chair, told the Herald that the new service model developed for paediatric care at Withybush provided for on-site care at Withybush to run from 10am to 10pm, supported by 24 hour Accident and Emergency care. Withybush’s 24 hours paediatric facilities were withdrawn by the Local Health Board on October 20. SWAT now state that the services of a middle-grade paediatric specialist, which have been available out of hours at the Haverfordwest hospital since that date, are to cease from the beginning of December.


Significantly, the provision of out of hours specialist paediatric middlegrade doctor cover was omitted from the Health Board’s plans for paediatrics published in April 2014. That document refers only to specialist cover being available during the hours the Short Stay Assessment Unit remains open from 10am to 10pm. While the Health Board has confirmed that A&E remains open at Withybush 24 hours a day, there are serious concerns among Pembrokeshire’s vital tourism business about the effect of further downgrading Withybush’s services. The fact that the service withdrawal has been timed to fall outside the main tourist season, upon which Pembrokeshire’s economy depends, has, in the view of some engaged in the tourist industry, stored up significant problems for the 2015 summer season. The Health Board has still failed to come up with a long term solution for minor injuries care around Pembrokeshire’s south east coast. The future of paediatric care at the hospital was raised by Paul Davies AM, when he and Stephen Crabb MP met with the interim Chief Executive of the Local Health Board, Karen Howell, to raise concerns about the future of services at Withybush. Both urged the Health Board to be transparent in their future plans, following community concerns about the future of Paediatric and Cancer services. They were also keen to find out what steps are being taken to address staff shortages and stressed the need for the new Chief Executive, Steve Moore, to regain the trust of Pembrokeshire people when he takes up his role in the New Year.


Commenting, Stephen Crabb MP said: “2014 has been a very challenging year for Withybush and health services in Pembrokeshire following the refusal of the Welsh Health Minister to back down on his downgrading plans. Having already seen the removal of the Special Care Baby Unit, and the cutting of Paediatrics, there is now uncertainty over the future of cancer services. The welcome news last week that the Health Board have committed to the refurbishment of Ward 10, and a new Chemotherapy Day Unit, still does not address the underlying staff shortage problems at the hospital – Withybush does not have an Oncology or Palliative Care consultant. Unfortunately the meeting last Friday left me with more questions than answers. I made it clear that when the new Chief Executive takes up his role in the New Year, he faces an uphill task in reassuring Pembrokeshire people about the delivery of cancer services.” Local Assembly Member, Paul Davies said: “Last week’s meeting was a good opportunity to raise some very real concerns over paediatrics provision in Pembrokeshire. The downgrading of full time paediatric services at Withybush hospital to a 12 hour model has rightly worried families across Pembrokeshire. Unfortunately, following this meeting I still remain unconvinced that these changes will result in safe and sustainable services. Removing services from Withybush Hospital remains a reckless and irresponsible way forward – and I hope the new Chief Executive will seriously examine this issue, when he takes post in the New Year.”

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50



EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea



A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms



A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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