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Pembroke Dock: Local who lost two friends to drugs promotes government inquiry

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Drugs and alcohol: Tell the government what you think

Drugs and alcohol: Tell the government what you think

A LOCAL man who lost two friends to drugs overdoses is appealing for the people of Pembrokeshire to participate in a government inquiry into alcohol and substance misuse before it’s too late.

The Welsh Assembly’s Health and Social Care Committee is conducting a review into the recent surge of ‘legal highs’ in the country, as well as the wider issues of alcohol and substance misuse, and wants to hear the public’s views by January 9.

The committee, made up of ten Assembly Members, is inviting public responses on substance misuse, the law surrounding it and also the support available, and will be publishing its report later this month.

Sean McGhan, aged 25 from Pembroke Dock, suffered two bereavements when his friend Anthony Gammer died on July 26, 2013, aged 27, after taking a concoction of drugs including cannabis, dihydrocodeine, ketamine and diazepam.

Sean McGhan: Urging locals to participate in inquiry

Sean McGhan: Urging locals to participate in inquiry

Mr McGhan’s other close friend, Paul Dalling, died in 2013 at the untimely age of 24 after brewing a deadly tea using poppy seeds. The DJ from Milford Haven thought the drink would induce a pleasant drowsy effect, however after consuming a pint of the concoction his central nervous system shut down and he died in bed.

The inquest into Mr Dalling’s death heard that he drank the infusion and smoked cannabis before going for a night out with friends. The coroner’s conclusion into the unusual death, which warned of the dangerous effects of poppy tea, garnered national press attention when it was published last year.

Mr McGhan believes there is a strong case to legalise certain drugs, to ensure their safety, and says he thinks that providing better education to youngsters would undoubtedly save lives.

Explaining to the Herald why he is so keen for everyone to participate in the Government’s inquiry, Mr McGhan said: “Every experience with drugs is important to the overall decision as to how it’s all governed. We all have our own unique views and many have direct experiences that need to be heard and respected by the government, not just the habitual users but the medicinal users too. For example, my suffering Nan could be using cannabis if not for all the stigma resulting in a huge lack of research.

He added: “Cancer sufferer’s medicines are being used by kids because the patients need money to buy a working medicine like cannabis. Weed is everywhere anyway, just expensive and blatantly funds the black market even here in Pembrokeshire. Hard drugs are being used because users aren’t getting high off the now low quality commercial cannabis, nor are they educated not to use drugs. If it’s blatant to us but not the government maybe we should point it out to them with this unique opportunity they have offered us!”

Tragic: Anthony Gammer, died in 2013

Tragic: Anthony Gammer, died in 2013

“The government are running out of excuses on keeping the drugs stigma going.  It’s true most people who don’t use drugs have absolutely no idea about them but those who use, or used them, know all too well of the dangers that follow drug use.”

McGhan said: “Anyone can send an email to the Welsh Government by January 9 by emailing [email protected] or you can write to The Clerk, Health and Social Care Committee, National Assembly for Wales, CF99 1NA.”

The terms of reference for the inquiry being conducted in Wales are, to consider:

  • the impacts of alcohol and substance misuse on people in Wales, including young people and university students; older people; homeless people; and people in police custody or prisons;
  •  the effectiveness of current Welsh Government policies on tackling alcohol and substance misuse and any further action that may be required;
  •  the capacity and availability of local services across Wales to raise awareness and deal with the impact of the harms associated with alcohol and substance misuse.
Died after drinking poppy tea: Paul Dalling

Died after drinking poppy tea: Paul Dalling

A spokesman for the Welsh Government said: “The National Assembly for Wales’ Health and Social Care Committee is a group of ten Assembly Members from across Wales who represent the four political parties who make up the Assembly. The Committee’s job is to hold the Welsh Government to account on health and social care within Wales, including finance, administration, policy and legislation.”

The spokesman added: “We have recently been doing some work on new psychoactive substances which are sometimes called legal highs – our report will be out in the New Year. We want to build on that work, and so we are now looking into issues of alcohol and substance misuse. As part of our inquiry, we want to know about the effect that alcohol and substance misuse has on people in Wales, how well these issues are currently being tackled, and whether the right local services are in place across Wales to help people and make sure that they know about the possible harms. Giving us your views will help us make sure that we can take into account how alcohol and substance misuse affects real people in Wales on a daily basis.”

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Nicola Winkless

    January 5, 2015 at 1:18 am

    I think this young man is very brave and is right, so much needs to be done to help these people. I know children that have grown up with drug/alcohol misuse around them, and them also going down the same path, it\\’s one vicious circle, I think also the lack of jobs, youth groups, education and pure nieve attitude towards drugs is also a problem….unfortunately I don\\’t think the welsh government will do anything to help towards this as the resources would cost too much money and they are already making major cuts in hospitals and education……

  2. Sean McGhan

    January 5, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    http://www.senedd.assembly.wales/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=11450&Opt=0 .

    Here is the link that was left out of this.I hope at least half of those who read this report will fill in the information form provided and take it seriously. This can be done anonymously if preferred.Please take the opportunity to be heard.Unfortunately we only have until Friday to give the information in.It is worth a shout considering the consequences of ill informed drug use, and the potential benefits of correct medicinal uses.

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News

Pembrokeshire airport lease expected to be completed by end of year

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HAVERFORDWEST’S council-run airport, which had a circa £119,000 deficit last year, is expected to be leased out by the end of the year following “reasonably complex” negotiations, councillors heard.

Back in May, members of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet supported the leasing of Withybush Airport as part of plans to make the facility cost-neutral to the authority.

Last year, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, members heard the financial position at the council-supported Haverfordwest/Withybush airport deteriorated in 2022/23, with an out-turn position for 2022/23 of £238,000.

That loss has been reduced to an expected £119,000 for 2023/24 “following an extensive review of the operations of the airport”.

At the July 18 meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council’s full council, a series of submitted questions on the airport were heard.

Merlins Bridge councillor John Cole asked: “With the council leasing out the Haverfordwest airport, can members be assured that the lease is at comparable rent with similar airport facilities, and the airport being offloaded purely as a cost savings measure?”

He also asked a second related question: “Are current users protected and assured that their tenancy and rents currently payable to the authority are taken into consideration?”

Responding, Deputy Leader Cllr Paul Miller said the proposed letting was considered to be “best letting,” with restricted private documents detailing the figures available to all members.

On the second question, he said existing tenants had been involved throughout the process, and once the new overall lease was in place tenants would be protected through legislation.

However, he stressed the new leaseholder would be able to change conditions in the future and the council would “not dictate terms” in the future.

A further question was asked by Saundersfoot South councillor Chris Williams: “On a recent services meeting back in 2023, we had a productive meeting at Withybush Airport to look at the impact regarding costs to PCC and to consider options with regards to its future operation.

“Can you please clarify if the airport is still owned and operated by Pembrokeshire County Council and if so at what cost since April 1, 2024?”

Cllr Miller said the airport was still currently owned by the council following the Cabinet decision, with “reasonably complex” negotiations ongoing, complicated by land ownership issues and the need to obtain the civil aviation licence.

“Hopefully by the end of the calendar year we will have completed that transaction,” Cllr Miller said, adding that £25,000 had been spent since April 1.

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Farming

FUW sets out its key priorities at the Royal Welsh Show

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THE Farmers’ Union of Wales has set out its robust asks of the UK and Welsh Governments despite the challenges presented by navigating through a constantly changing political landscape.

Speaking at the Royal Welsh Show this week, FUW President Ian Rickman reiterated the fact that the Union’s stance remains constant and relentless in an ever changing political arena.

“Welsh farming is at an important crossroads which will determine our future for decades to come. Whilst our direction of travel depends heavily on the development of devolved agricultural policies, we must not forget how decisions made by the newly elected UK Government will effectively determine the degree of funding the Welsh Government has available to support agriculture and rural development.

“This, in turn, will have an impact upon the extent to which Welsh food producers can be expected to compete against producers in other UK nations and across the globe on various levels.

“Despite these challenges, our focus as a Union is to keep-on lobbying governments relentlessly for the best possible outcomes for our members, Welsh agriculture and our rural communities.

“The recent Senedd Cabinet reshuffle and UK General Election certainly brought about considerable change to the political landscape in Wales, not least the appointment of Huw Irranca-Davies MS as Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and a new UK Labour Government holding a majority at Westminster.

“However, turmoil in Cardiff persists as Vaughan Gething’s resignation leaves the door wide open for yet another reshuffle within a matter of a few months.

At a UK level, the FUW is calling for a fair, multiannual funding settlement of £450 million per year in EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) legacy funding for agriculture and rural development in Wales.

“The role of this support in underpinning food production, environmental protection and rural communities in Wales cannot be underestimated.

“We also need to see a far more robust approach to future trade deals with other countries and trading blocs if we are to protect Welsh farmers and UK food security. Food imports and exports must be subject to the same customs and adherence to similar standards if we are to provide a level playing field for both UK and EU producers.”

The FUW is calling for incentives and support for farmers to invest in on-farm renewable energy production that benefits local communities. Food production should be recognised as a national asset and the use of productive agricultural land to meet tree planting and other environmental targets should be halted.

Procurement policies must prioritise public sector support for Welsh and British businesses, recognising the range of benefits such properly designed policies can deliver for society. The newly elected UK Labour Government must also protect and promote the UK’s high animal health and welfare standards and bring in a law that ensures that all dogs should be kept on a lead in fields near or adjacent to livestock.

“Despite the uncertainty in Cardiff, we call on the Welsh Government to build strong relations with the newly elected UK Labour Government to ensure that Welsh agriculture receives the attention it deserves. EU CAP legacy funding allocated for Welsh agriculture and rural development must be protected for this purpose and such funding should continue to be co-funded using national funds.

“The ongoing process of negotiating a revised Sustainable Farming Scheme that provides stability for our food producing family farms must also continue if the scheme is to be implemented in 2026. It is crucial that the scheme considers economic, social and environmental sustainability on equal footings and is accessible and achievable for all active farmers in Wales.

“We also want to see the adoption of practical and innovative technological solutions as a central part of the Control of Agricultural Pollution ‘NVZ’ Regulations review. The process must be based on robust data and evidence while seeking to address water quality issues through innovation rather than regulation.”

Mr Rickman added that the Welsh Government has to, now more than ever before, adopt a scientific and holistic approach to bovine TB eradication in Wales by working with the Technical Advisory Group in investigating the effectiveness of current testing regimes and methods for addressing disease transmission by wildlife.

“Finally, moves towards net zero must be sustainable and based on robust science in such a way that actions carried out in response to short-term targets are not reversed. Reducing our carbon footprint must be manageable and realistic, and must not compromise production or the economic viability of farming businesses.

“The coming days are a celebration of Welsh agriculture and the farmers who continue to produce high quality food and protect the environment against a constant backdrop of political uncertainty and challenge.”

Mr Rickman said that the impacts of such uncertainty across the UK and some fundamental policy questions would be the focus of the FUW’s seminars being held over the coming days, as panels of professionals tackle a diverse range of areas of concern for Welsh farming.

“As always, in addition to these events, our staff and Presidential Team will be meeting officials and stakeholders in order to highlight FUW’s farming members’ good news stories and industry concerns. Rest assured, despite navigating a constantly changing political landscape, our constant and relentless stance remains; to represent the interests of Welsh farmers,” concluded Mr Rickman.

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Health

Health Board to make decision about the future of St David’s GP Surgery

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THE FUTURE of Primary Care provision for patients registered with St David’s GP Surgery in Pembrokeshire will be discussed by Hywel Dda University Health Board at a meeting on Thursday, 25 July 2024.

An engagement exercise was undertaken to gather patient and local stakeholder views on the future of GP services following the decision of the one GP who runs the Surgery to resign his General Medical Services Contract, which takes effect from 31 October 2024.

The engagement with patients and stakeholders included a drop-in event St David’s City Hall in June. This event was well-attended and gave people an opportunity to discuss their concerns in person with the Health Board and Llais, the patient’s voice organisation for Wales.

Patients and members of the local community were also able to share their views via a questionnaire which was available at the engagement event, and also from the Surgery, the local Pharmacy, online, or by contacting the Health Board by phone or e-mail.

Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care, Community and Long-Term Care, at Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to feed back their views to us. The Health Board is committed to listening to and engaging with our local populations and we would like to thank patients and stakeholders for their involvement in the process so far.

“We would like to reassure patients that we are working to find a sustainable solution from the limited options available so that services can be delivered as locally as possible for patients from the 1 November.

The main themes picked up during the engagement period include concerns about the impact on the community of St David’s if the Surgery were to close, continuity of care and also travel to another GP surgery, especially with regard to public transport.

“People at the drop-in event were provided with information about the frequency of public transport and other transport support available in the community,” said Ms Paterson.

“There was also much appreciation expressed for Dr Stephen Riley and his team and for the care that they have provided over the years. We very much appreciate the continuing support given by the Community to the team at St David’s Surgery throughout this challenging period.”

On Thursday, 25 July, the Board will consider the feedback received.

Ms Paterson continued: “We understand local people will want to know what the future of their GP services will look like, and we will be writing to all patients to inform them of the outcome once a decision is made by the Board.”

To read the Board papers and watch the meeting on the day, please visit: Board Agenda and Papers 25 July 2024 – Hywel Dda University Health Board (nhs.wales)

An update, following the Board’s formal decision on Thursday, July 25 will be shared with patients and stakeholders.

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