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Centralising care causes Carmarthen chaos



swatGLANGWILI Hospital , Carmarthen is creaking under the strain of delivering services on its already crowded site. Parking at West Wales General Hospital is chaotic and little thought has been given to accommodating those with relatives who need long term care and who do not have an endless supply of cash to pay for overnight stays in hotels. Social media abounds with the stories of many Pembrokeshire parents who have been less than impressed with the services provided for their sick or injured children and are calling for the return of 24 hour paediatric care – as a minimum – to Haverfordwest.

We spoke with health campaigner David Williams and young mum Jamie-lee Irving about their experiences at West Wales General Hospital. “The truth about the safety net” The transfer of services from Haverfordwest to Carmarthen has caused and continues to cause serious problems at West Wales General Hospital with no end in sight, as the Board continues to force more services away from Pembrokeshire and up to Carmarthen. Before services were moved, Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford promised a “robust safety net” would be in place before services were transferred.

Earlier this year, we revealed that Mr Drakeford’s idea of a safety net was a solitary “dedicated” ambulance for which staff– at that time – had not been recruited. Since that time, the Board has transferred 24 hour paediatric care from Haverfordwest, again with the re-assurance that service levels would not be affected and patients would experience little or no change in their experience of care. Ina letter to a local health campaigner, Mark Drakeford has claimed that a “park and ride” scheme will alleviate problems at the cramped Carmarthen site.

A letter to the minister

 David Williams of Pembrokeshire Health Concern became aware of problems with overcrowding at Glangwili Hospital, and began compiling a dossier of issues that have arisen since the Board pressed on with its cuts to Pembrokeshire’s essential services. Mr Williams told The Herald: “I was recently in Carmarthen so drove around Glangwili to see for myself and it was unbelievable.

To mention a few issues, there were cars parked on yellow lines, half on and half off pavements, and double parked. “I mentioned this to shop keepers in Carmarthen town and they said it has become horrendous with many nurses going in 2 hours before shift just to try and get a parking space. “When consultant-led maternity services were moved, the refurbishment of existing wards at Carmarthen was incomplete. I have been told alterations will take up to 2 years to complete. “It seems pretty obvious that the Local Health Board pushed ahead with changes in the full knowledge that everything was not in place.”

Appalled, David wrote to Mark Drakeford and suggested he paid an unannounced visit to Glangwili to see the chaos for himself. Mark Drakeford’s reply revealed the extent of the Welsh Government’s indifference to the effects its policies are having and the truth about the much-lauded “safety net”. Far from there being a safety net in place, it is only now – after the transfer of vital services – that the Board and the Welsh Government are doing what Mark Drakeford assured everyone would be in place BEFORE that transfer took place.

After receiving Mark Drakeford’s response, David Williams wrote again to the Minister and told The Herald: “I went to Glangwili after car parking had been maximised. Judging by posts on Facebook pages many members of the public are unaware of social care vehicles or “dedicated discharge vehicles”; either because they are not informed by staff, or because none is available when needed.

“I am concerned that the Minister thinks that an arrangement that might be acceptable for visitors is also acceptable for women in labour, sick children, or the elderly & infirm. Those people, having been transported by car drivers appear to be expected, after a long journey of possibly over an hour’s length, to park at the showground, wait up to ½ an hour for bus and then another 15 minutes in bus to get to hospital. Alternatively those without cars take a train and bus ride from train station!” He continued: “Unfortunately the Minister did not reply to my question, ‘what went wrong?’.

Things were definitely not in place before moving services from Withybush as he promised and it now seems to be a catch up situation due to poor planning, no understanding of knock on effects and indecent haste in implementing.”

Drakeford’s response

“Following the decision to concentrate inpatient obstetric, neonatal and paediatric services at Glangwili Hospital, car parking at the site has been maximised, with additional spaces having been made available in October. “Hywel Dda University Health Board already has a number of measures in place to alleviate pressures on parking availability. For instance, at both Prince Philip and Glangwili Hospitals, there are social care vehicles, which transport patients for outpatient appointments as part of local partnership agreements.

Similarly there are ‘dedicated discharge vehicles’ available to support their Welsh Ambulance NHS Trust colleagues. “As part of the ongoing work of the Transport Accessibility Group, there is membership from the confederation of patient transport to ensure there is regular dialogue with bus companies to enhance local public transport provision. “Discussions have taken place between the Health Board and Carmarthenshire County Council, who are keen to progress this issue.

“The current Park and Ride facility at Nantyci (Carmarthen Showground) has 400 car parking spaces, of which there is 75% capacity available. A proposal has been put forward to extend the current Park and Ride service to Glangwili Hospital, to run every half hour from 7am to 6.30pm which will take approximately 15 minutes, at a cost of £1 per day for patients and members of staff (or free for those in receipt of concessionary fares).

“In addition, the proposal will also explore the greater use of rail links into Carmarthen and the potential to include the railway station with the proposed hospital shuttle service. “Given the cost elements involved, once the proposal has been fully worked up, it will be submitted to the health board’s strategy and planning committee for approval, and it is anticipated this will take place by the end of March 2015.

“The new central transport unit in the health board will be taking stock of all current car parking arrangements in the coming months. “I hope this response is helpful. Should you have any additional concerns, I am sure the health board would be happy to discuss them with you further.”


The Pembrokeshire Herald contacted one mum, after her story appeared on the SWAT Facebook page. Jamie-lee Irving is a young mum with twins. We asked Jamielee could we use her story, one of many on the SWAT Facebook page, as a representative of the many there. The below are her words, her story: “I have twins. One of which was very poorly earlier this year. “Over the past 4 weeks, one of the twins has been poorly pretty much constantly.

Initially being diagnosed with tonsillitis on Ward 9. “After suffering a febrile convulsion at home due to a soaring temp, I took him to A&E at Withybush by car. “After 2 courses of antibiotics, he seemed to be getting better. Towards the middle of last week (the week ending Sunday, Dec 14) he totally went off his food/milk. He wouldn’t take more than 2-3oz and every time he managed to take a feed, he was vomiting.

This went on for 3 days solid. “He awoke at 12:15am, Saturday morning (Dec 13), I assumed for a feed. He was very unhappy, grizzly and generally not himself. He took 2oz and I put him back to bed. He began coughing violently, so I picked him up: he vomited everywhere. “I rang care on call who advised me to go straight to Glangwili. As I was packing a bag, he was sat on the sofa with my husband. He had another febrile convulsion.

This time I rang 999 straight away. “Then the ‘Glangwili Experience’ began. “The ambulance arrived. The paramedic took my son’s temperature, which had gone up since I’d taken it myself. They were very blasé about the whole thing and not overly concerned about the situation. “I was told I’d have to go to Glangwili, which I knew anyway. So off we went. I was strapped to a stretcher holding my 10 month old baby.

Everyone knows how rough a ride is in an ambulance… I almost dropped him 4 times as he wasn’t secured at all! “His oxygen SATS were taken with an adult probe, and therefore showed a terribly low reading, causing me to panic. I was told not to worry as the probe wouldn’t give a true reading anyway!! “I have to ask: why use it in the first place if this is the case?!

“The paramedic fell asleep for a lot of the journey and the ambulance was ill-equipped to deal with a child, let alone a baby. “I cannot fault the night staff at Glangwili at all. “We were seen almost immediately, given a side room as soon as one was available and brought tea and coffee by the nurses. The rest of the night my son was observed and allowed to sleep. The changeover happened around 8:00am, though we hadn’t seen a doctor or nurse since 5am “We were left in a side room not knowing what was happening.

We only saw a nurse at 11:30am because I enquired about what was happening. “I was told three different things by three different doctors, and finally told – by the most awfully rude nurse I’ve ever met: ‘You can go now as we need this bed’. “No medicine, no explanation… nothing. “I was still worried so took him to Withybush Ward 9 on Sunday. “We were seen immediately by the most amazing consultant I’ve ever met. She explained to me in 15 minutes what I’ve been wanting someone to tell me for almost 9 months; namely, what’s wrong with my son and how to manage it.

“He spent a few hours on Ward 9 and was then sent home with a special pump to help his cough/ breathing and has kept all his food and drinks down since. “Such a shame that this has happened to our hospital at Withybush. Bring back Ward 9 and its nurses and doctors and stop this silliness!” The Pembrokeshire Herald would like to hear your experiences of Glangwili Hospital since the transfer of services from Withybush. Whether negative or positive, please send your stories to


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Public engagement exercise over new hospital between St Clears and Narberth



HYWEL DDA is asking the people of Pembrokeshire to help it further shape and deliver future services by taking part in a six-week engagement exercise.

Since the publication of its strategy, A Healthier Mid and West Wales: Our Future Generations Living Well in 2018, the health board has worked with partners to provide care and develop services. However, the coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on health and care services. As a result, the health board now wants to learn from the public about how the pandemic has affected their health and care, and access to it.

This week, Hywel Dda UHB has been distributing a discussion document for the public to consider, along with a questionnaire for completion.

Hywel Dda UHB is also asking for the public’s feedback in relation to its long-term strategy to develop and build a new hospital in the south of the Hywel Dda area, somewhere between and including St Clears, in Carmarthenshire, and Narberth, in Pembrokeshire.

This location is the most central for most of the population in the south of the Hywel Dda area, and it was determined through the public consultation held in 2018.

The public is also being asked to nominate sites for a new hospital based four criteria:

The nominated site must be within the zone between and including St Clears in Carmarthenshire and Narberth in Pembrokeshire. This location is the most central to most of the population in the south of the Hywel Dda area.

The nominated site should be a minimum of 35 acres of reasonably developable land.

The nominated site should have realistic prospects of obtaining planning permission for a new hospital.

There should be appropriate transport infrastructure for a major hospital site.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “The global pandemic has had a major impact on all areas of our lives so it’s crucial that the health board considers, reflects and learns from this extraordinary period. This engagement exercise will allow the public to tell us in their own words how COVID-19 has affected their health and care, and access to it.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to participate because the feedback we receive will play a major role in helping shape future services. This in turn will allow us to deliver on our long-term commitment for a healthier mid and west Wales.

“I would also stress that this engagement exercise is part of an ongoing process. Over the coming months and years, we plan to engage with the public, stakeholders and partners on a wide variety of issues, such as service models. Everyone will have their chance to give their views and opinions because we are committed to continuous engagement with the public to ensure we provide the best possible care.”

The engagement exercise will run until Monday June 21.

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Paul Sartori taking action to support climate with National Lottery grant of nearly £14,000



LOCAL hospice at home charity, Paul Sartori Hospice at Home, is taking action to support the climate with the installation of solar panels at its main head office in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.

The charity which delivers end of life care services across Pembrokeshire, has been awarded a grant to fund the purchase and installation of solar panels at Paul Sartori House, Winch Lane. This investment is part of an ongoing commitment to address the climate emergency and the charity joins many others who are taking action. Paul Sartori was one of 35 community groups, who were selected to take part in the Climate Action Boost scheme, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.

Working alongside Renew Wales, a partner in the initiative, the group explored methods to help tackle the causes and consequences of climate change, and to operate more sustainably. A number of options were discussed to reduce their impact on the environment and Renew Wales helped the charity to develop an environmental action plan, which is to be implemented over the coming months. The scheme available to cover a variety of environmental reduction activities, including renewable energy, reducing consumption, local food and reduced or less impactful travel.

Paul Sartori Hospice at Home wouldn’t normally be associated with environmental activity. Through regular consultation over many months, the charity has been really encouraged by what they have learnt.

“We have invested a lot of time in developing the plan; discussed a number of alternatives along the way, but feel that the solar panel installation will have the biggest impact for the charity in the long term”, said Sandra Dade, Charity Manager. “The National Lottery Climate Action Boost has really inspired our charity to minimise our impacton the environment and we will continue this journey,” added Sandra.

Jemma Nurse, Funding Manager at The National Lottery Community Fund said, “The climate emergency is everyone’s business, which is why The National Lottery Community Fund is acting to support and inspire communities to minimise their own impact on the environment. We are proud to be a significant funder of environmental projects and Paul Sartori Hospice at Home, along with the other groups participating in Climate Action Boost, will play a valuable part in building our knowledge so we can share our learning with other funders across Wales and the UK.”

The services provided by the Paul Sartori Hospice at Home enable people in the later stages of any life-limiting illness to be cared for and to die at home with dignity, independence, pain free and surrounded by those they hold most dear, if that is their wish.

All of the services are free of charge, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, thanks to the generosity of the Pembrokeshire Community. Further information on the charity and its services can be obtained by visiting their website, or by phoning 01437 763223.

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New nursing service to support carers of people living with dementia



HYWEL DDA UNIVERSITY HEALTH BOARD, in partnership with Dementia UK, is launching a new nursing service to support carers of people living with dementia.

The Admiral Nurse service will be a significant addition to the current support available to people living with dementia and their carers. The initiative is in line with the Dementia Action Plan for Wales 2018-2022, a Welsh Government strategy that aims to recognise the rights of people with dementia, make them feel valued, and help them live as independently as possible in their communities.

The team will cover Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire with a focus on delivering person–centred and relationship-centred dementia care. The Admiral Nurses will work collaboratively in a family-centric manner, across health and social care pathways, to provide support, expert guidance & practical solutions to enable families/carers, including the person living with dementia, to maximise their wellbeing and improve the experience of those affected by dementia.

Dementia UK is the only charity in the UK dedicated to supporting families affected by dementia through dementia specialist Admiral Nurses.  When things get challenging or difficult for people with dementia and their families, Admiral Nurses work alongside them, giving the compassionate one-to-one support, expert guidance and practical solutions that can be difficult to find elsewhere. They are a lifeline, helping families to live more positively with dementia in the present, and to face the challenges of tomorrow with more confidence and less fear.  

The service launched on 29th March 2021 and is now accepting referrals.

Charlotte Duhig, Admiral Nurse Clinical Lead, said: “I am honoured to be leading this new service to support carers and families of people living with dementia across the counties served by Hywel Dda University Health Board. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an incredibly challenging time for people living with dementia and their carers but I’m confident that this much-needed service will make a difference to the lives of those affected by dementia.

“Having previously set up an Admiral Nurse Service, I know the benefit of working as an Admiral Nurse as families can get the emotional and practical support to allow them to plan for the future. Health and social care professionals can also take advantage of our in-depth knowledge of dementia.”

Dr Hilda Hayo, CEO and Chief Admiral Nurse at Dementia UK, says: “We are delighted to announce this new Admiral Nurse service in partnership with Hywel Dda University Health Board. The fact that this service extends to a large rural area within West Wales, with the support of two Welsh-speaking Admiral Nurses, means that we are improving access to dementia specialist support for families.”            

To be able to access this service, the following referral criteria applies:

  • The person being supported/cared for by the carer has a diagnosis (or likely diagnosis) of dementia.
  • The person with dementia and/or carer lives in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion or Pembrokeshire (or is registered with a GP in those areas).
  • The carer agrees to their referral to the Admiral Nurse
  • The carer should have identified need(s) that impact upon their caring role or as a consequence of their caring role*

If you are a health or social care professional or 3rd sector working with someone you believe this service could benefit, or you are a carer of someone living with dementia and would like to be referred to the service, please contact a health or social care professional who can refer you. 

For further information, contact the nursing team direct:

Clinical Lead:

Admiral NurseContact detailsLocality covered
Bethan BulmanBethan.Bulman@wales.nhs.ukCeredigion North
Donna Phillips Ceredigion South
Emma VenablesEmma.Venables@wales.nhs.ukPembrokeshire North
Rosie BellRosie.Bell@wales.nhs.ukPembrokeshire South
Siriol DyerSiriol.Dyer2@wales.nhs.ukCarmarthenshire (3Ts)
Liz WrightElizabeth.Wright@wales.nhs.ukCarmarthenshire (Amman Gwendraeth)
Donna OwensDonna.Owens2@wales.nhs.ukCarmarthenshire (Llanelli)
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