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Public force Board to listen

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THERE was unrest at Thursday’s (Jan 22) Community Health Council engagement meeting as the public forced the Health Board to cut short their Hywel-Dda-Health-Boardpresentations.

Hywel Dda Chair Bernadine Rees spoke about ‘building a new relationship’ and ‘being open and transparent’ but over an hour had passed before the public got their say.

Community Director for Hywel Dda, Sue Lewis, was halfway through her presentation when when one member of the public got up and shouted: “You’re wasting my breath and I’ve been wasting my time,” before walking out.

Moments later, a woman spoke up saying: “This is a complete waste of time. You are like one of those foreign call centres, giving us a list of things that we don’t want to hear and you are ignoring what we want to say to you. You are proposing all these changes and you are here to consult but this is just a PR job. We know about the problems that exist but we are not getting the services we deserve. You have come here with an agenda and you have spoken for a very long time and it’s about time you let the public speak.”

That prompted applause from the 100-strong audience and Sue Lewis was forced to cut short her presentation.

Another member of the audience remarked that the Health Board were talking at them and not with them. She added: “We have come here to talk, not to be lectured.”

The Director of Public Health, Theresa Owen, had earlier spoken about leading an active lifestyle but another person added: “We want to know what is happening, we know not to smoke and drink. We came here to find out about the nitty gritty of our Health Board.”

One member of the public then went on to speak about the recruitment problems facing Hywel Dda saying: “How can you expect to employ people when they can’t be sure that the job they have is secure?”

Chief Executive Steve Moore responded and talked about a vibrant future for Withybush and added that they needed to assure people that they are putting quality and safety in to everything that they do. He also said that they were looking at bringing care closer to people who live in rural communities.

Another member later added: “In terms of recruitment, why are these people who are showing interest not getting the job?”

Speaking about the problems facing the ambulance service, one person said: “You treat us as if we don’t know. You can’t have an ambulance that goes to Swansea. You haven’t considered the miles they have to travel.”

The Head of Operations for Hywel Dda responded saying that they had considered the miles and also added that six ambulances are on duty in Pembrokeshire and that one of those would be a 24hr vehicle dedicated to Withybush.

Another member of the public talked about the beds in Withybush saying: “There were 384 beds in Withybush when it opened, there are now 120. That is a big bed drop. If you haven’t got a bed there is nowhere to put the patients and this is partly why the ambulance service are overworked.”

He went on to say that months were going by before posts were filled and added that it showed a lack of planning.

Finally he asked if they were aware that nurses were being asked to fill positions in which they were not qualified.

Bernadine Rees responded: “We are all here to protect and support safe and quality services in Pembrokeshire. We have to work together. Hywel Dda wants to be an employer of choice. We are supporting Pembrokeshire services and we want to work with all the groups.”

Another member of the public responded: “If it wasn’t for those groups (SWAT etc.) the public wouldn’t know. The Health Board haven’t been open and honest about what has happened. We need to see you being honest.”

Bernadine Rees responded: “Nobody is shying away from the fact that we need to change.”

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Milford Haven: Apocalyptic scenes as work truck catches fire in Meyler Crescent

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A MILFORD HAVEN businessman says that he is “absolutely gutted”, after he lost his tipper truck in a dramatic fire overnight.

Callum Hicks, of Meyler Crescent, was woken just after 1am on Monday morning (Mar 1) to see his vehicle in flames, with fuel running down the street on fire.

The apocalyptic scenes brought neighbours out of their homes and the fire brigade was quickly called and put out the blaze.

At this time the police and fire brigade are not suspecting foul play, but in a telephone call to a Herald reporter Callum Hicks said that he thought it was impossible that the vehicle would just spontaneously combust.

Work van: Callum Hicks with his truck, which he says was his “pride and joy”

Explaining that he thought his truck had been set on fire deliberately, he said: “There was CCTV of the fire, but its a football pitch length away, with a white van parked blocking the view of the camera. There was not a clear uninterrupted view.”

“I parked the truck at 2pm on Sunday afternoon so it was 11 hours before the fire started. The vehicle was therefore cold, and locked up.”

Firefighters at the scene

The Herald has asked two mechanics, one of whom has worked on Transit vans for decades. The first said: “It is very unlikely that a vehicle like this would catch fire on it’s own – its impossible – I am 99.9% sure that this was arson.”

The second, a specialist in vehicle electronics said: “There are so many fuses and fail safes its highly unlikely for diesel vans to burst into flames like this without some kind of catalyst.”

Burned out shell: The vehicle after the fire

“There have been issues regarding Transits in the past, even a product recall involving a fire risk from a towing module. But, the chances are a million to one of it catching fire after being parked up for almost twelve hours. It just doesn’t happen.”

The Herald asked Callum Hicks if he could think of anyone who may want to torch his truck. He said that he could not think of anyone who would do such a thing.

Commenting on the police handling of the matter, he said: “They told my missus, Rhianna Pearce, that they were not taking matters further because it was just an accident – its not!”

“I have been in trouble with the police before, and they know I am a bit of a boy, but I think this is the reason that the police are not looking into this properly.

“At the end of the day this was a large fire in a residential area, lives could have been in danger. I have lost thousands because I was insured third-party only and I do not have cover for fire.

Dyfed-Powys Police and Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have been asked for a comment.

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

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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

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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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