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‘One complaint’ claims CHC

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Surprised by the report: Tony Wales

Surprised by the report: Tony
Wales

ON THURSDAY (Jan 8), the Community Health Council reported it had received only one complaint about the transfer of maternity and children’s services to Carmarthen. Responding to the report former Chair of the Community Health Council (CHC), Tony Wales said: “I was extremely surprised to learn from the Pembrokeshire CHC meeting today that the CHC have only received ONE complaint, to date, regarding the transfer of women’s and children’s services to Carmarthen.”

He continued: “Am I to assume that most of what I read on the SWAT Facebook pages are in fact either not true or just highly exaggerated by people who post their accounts of their problem? “If I was a member of the Ministers panel who was tasked to review the impact of service change I would have no alternative but to report back to the Minister that there is no credible evidence to support that there has been any adverse impact on Parents and their children.”

Mr Wales comment on social media generated a number of responses which suggested that there is considerable confusion about the entirely separate roles of the Health Board and the Community Health Council, which is independent of it.

What is a Community Health Council ? 

The Community Health Council (CHC) is made up of 36 members appointed by local councils, the Welsh Government and the voluntary sector. It is separate from and independent to the Health Board. The CHC acts as a monitor on the services provided by the Health Board and to provide advocacy services and support for those who wish to complain about health services.

In addition to these roles it seeks the community’s views on its health service, inspects premises, and provides information about local health services. When the Welsh Government looks to find out how many complaints exist about the local health service, provided by the Health Board, it will normally consult with the CHC to establish what complaints have been made and to which element of service provision they relate. The CHC asks that patients: “Tell us about your experiences of the health service, good or bad.

You may feel that you have not received the quality of service expected and feel upset about what has happened and want an explanation or make a complaint. “Whether it’s any of these or some other matter to do with health service provision, please let us know – that’s what we’re here for.”

What about social media ?

 Complaints made on social media will not be taken into account by the Welsh Government or the Board. Only complaints made through the Community Health Council will be acted upon. The CHC will not conduct or handle litigation, only complaints about service. Comments on Facebook have suggested that the CHC should simply cut and paste records of complaints made on various patient pages and record them as formal complaints.

It cannot do this. It is up to individuals to make complaints to the CHC themselves. If individuals want to complain, they should communicate with the CHC. The CHC’s advocacy service is free of charge and provides an independent client-led advocacy service to those who wish to complain about care or treatment received from the NHS.

Watering down 

The Welsh Government is known to be frustrated by some Community Health Councils for standing in the way of its drive to cut and merge NHS services across Wales. The former chair of the local CHC, Tony Wales, was threatened with libel action for questioning the conduct of the Health Board’s consultation before it proceeded with its planned service cuts in Pembrokeshire.

CHC’s elsewhere in Wales were also urged to water down their objections to plans to centralise health services. The Welsh Government now plans to seize control of the CHC’s by putting one of its own placements in post as the head of the national body for Community Health Councils. As we have previously reported, the current Chief of the local CHC, Ashley Warlow, is stepping down at the end of this month. No replacement for Mr Warlow has been sought or appointed at this stage, despite him providing his notice in October 2014.

 If you have a complaint 

Lyn Neville from Pembrokeshire Cancer Support contacted us after hearing the CHC’s report of a single complaint. He told us: “It is very important that if you have a problem you report it to the Pembrokeshire Community Health Council who are the public’s Health Service Watchdog.

“The Welsh Assembly have a duty to review service changes and if problems are not fully reported it will appear that there are no issues and everything is fine. “We all know this is not the case. The Health Board will ignore stories in the Press and on Facebook etc but they cannot ignore your ‘official’ complaints.”

He continued: “So, please – if you have had, are having, or have in the future – a negative experience involving Maternity or Paediatric care you must tell the Community Health Council. “You can Telephone, e-mail or write to them. This can be done anonymously if you prefer not to give your name.” The contact details are – Telephone – 01646 697610 (when told Press “1” for the Pembrokeshire Branch of CHC).

Email – hyweldda@waleschc.org. uk Write to – Pembrokeshire Community Health Council, Suite 1, Cedar Court, Haven’s Head, Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, SA73 3LS Contact the Advocacy Service Phone: 01267 236326; Email: HDDComplaints. Advocacy@waleschc.org.uk Lyn concluded by asking: “Please do this as it could save a life and make a huge difference to our services at our Hospital.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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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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Pembrokeshire residents urged to take a virtual GP consultation when offered

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PEMBROKESHIRE residents are being urged to take up the offer of a virtual consultation, over the phone or video call with their GP, to help Keep Wales Safe during the current lockdown ‘stay at home’ restrictions.

The way we access local NHS services is changing, with more ways in which you can consult your doctor or nurse. Most surgeries now offer telephone as well as electronic advice consultations in the first instance. Following your advice call, a face to face appointment may be organised, but video consultations are also available. You can now speak to a doctor or healthcare professional using the video camera in your smartphone, tablet or computer and a connection to the internet. This is often more convenient and can save you time, as you will not need to travel for a face-to-face appointment. The system used is confidential and secure.

In a recent YouGov survey carried out for the Welsh Government’s Keep Wales Safe campaign only 27% of residents in Mid and West Wales had made use of the GP virtual service over the past 12 months with just 57% having heard of the service. However, 88% believed it was important to have access to a remote GP consultation once they had learnt of its existence.

Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care, Community and Long Term Care at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “If you are offered a video consultation appointment this is because your Health Care Professional has indicated that is it safe and appropriate to do so. Your video appointment will be confidential and will not be recorded. If you require support please contact your GP surgery using the number provided in the appointment confirmation.”

She continued: “By putting off small problems or regular appointments you could potentially be putting more strain on NHS emergency services so please, help us to help you, do not put anything off. Local GP surgeries are open and are there to offer medical advice and consult patients.”

After being offered a video consultation you will be sent a letter, email or text with details of your appointment. This communication will contain details of the service that has requested to see you by video and have provided a web address link. You can type or copy the web address link into a web browser via an internet enabled device and this will take you to the video clinic waiting area.

  • In order to access your virtual appointment, you will need:
  • Access to a device that will allow you to access the internet. You should use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge web browser on a desktop or laptop, or on an Android tablet or smartphone or Safari web browser on an Apple iMac, MacBook, iPad, or iPhone.
  • Your device will need a webcam (camera), speakers and microphone.
  • A good internet connection (if you can watch a YouTube video, this is good indication that you have a good connection).
  • An internet usage plan that is sufficient to cover the data consumption of a video call – ideally use a Wi-Fi connection if you have this available.

Sixty two percent of those surveyed by YouGov in Mid and West Wales said they will continue to access NHS services using the new ways that have been introduced as a result of the pandemic. The new methods include making more use of pharmacists; virtual GP consultations and using the NHS 111 online and telephone services.

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‘Cautious optimism’ for county’s tourism sector – but clarity still needed

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‘GIVE us clarity’ is the overriding message from the County’s tourism and hospitality businesses as the sector looks forward with cautious optimism to another busy season.

In a meeting hosted by Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb, thirty key local businesses were able to share their views with Paul Davies MS, Pembrokeshire County Council, the National Park and Visit Pembrokeshire.

The meeting focussed on the need for business support measures so long as uncertainty remains over the timetable for re-opening the economy in Wales.

Stephen Crabb said: “There is a lot of belief around that this summer will see another ‘staycation’ boom so long as the vaccination programme continues to make good progress and infection rates fall. Pembrokeshire has had a lot of national media coverage in recent months and could experience a bumper season but it’s crucial we get the re-opening right. There is a clear need for some kind of timetable to help businesses prepare appropriately and for clear rules to avoid confusion and contradictory messages.”

Paul Davies said: “It was a pleasure to hear from tourism businesses across Pembrokeshire about some of the challenges that they’re currently facing. The message was pretty clear – they want clarity from the Welsh Government and some timescales by which they can start to plan for reopening. I’ll certainly be taking back the concerns highlighted during the meeting and raising them with Welsh Government Ministers at the Senedd.”

Emma Thornton from Visit Pembrokeshire added: “Great to attend the Hospitality and Tourism Round table event today and to have the opportunity to discuss the ongoing challenges our industry faces over the coming months but also to share a collective optimism for what we believe will be a really strong year for tourism in Pembrokeshire when we are able to reopen and welcome our visitors back.

“Visit Pembrokeshire as the new Destination Management (DMO) for Pembrokeshire will be working closely with local stakeholders and businesses to help realise this opportunity in a sustainable and responsible way mindful of protecting what makes our beautiful county so special”

Stephen Crabb: Wants clarity for tourism businesses

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