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The NHS is ‘worth fighting for’

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New Boss: Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda University Health Board

New Boss: Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda University Health Board

IN HIS first interview with a Pembrokeshire newspaper since taking up his post, Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda University Health Board, told the Pembrokeshire Herald that he wanted to involve pressure groups, clinicians and the public in the debate about what Withybush Hospital can do to support the local population and revealed what motivated him to return to the NHS as Chief Executive of the Local Health Board.

“I moved out of the NHS for a while to get a different perspective and refresh.” Steve told us. “While I was away from the NHS, I realised that it was in my blood and I enjoyed working within it. The NHS is an institution that I am passionate about: It is hugely important and faces big challenges. I think it is worth fighting for.”

Considering why he had elected to return to NHS management through Hywel Dda UHB, Steve expressed his desire that the Board provide an integrated service: “Looking at England, there are many people there who believe that an integrated model, where we have acute, community and primary care working together will solve a lot of problems. What I see in Hywel Dda is a lot of the building blocks are in place to enable that; in a very rural community, and I come from a rural background, I want to develop that model where we have the means at hand to do so. I’m five weeks in. I am still finding my way around. But I am really positive and excited about how we can move services on. That is why I am here.”

Asked whether he could draw a line under the past, move on and be categorical about the future of service provision, Mr Moore told us: “I’m hearing the concern. I have been to two public meetings over the last two weeks. It needs a line drawing under it. The clinical reasons underlying those decision have not changed. However, we do have the review going on, we need to acknowledge that we might not have got it entirely correct, right up front. We are keen to work with pressure groups, clinicians and the public to learn whether the transfers have happened in the way we planned them. I am sure there are things we can do to improve things for patients who have to move further for treatment than before; however, the clinical argument for changing services and transferring them remains the same. We need to move on, but we need to continue the discussion about what clinical models ought to look like. For me and the Board, having been very clear that each of our hospitals has a sustainable future, we no need to debate how those hospitals best serve the communities in which they sit.”

Steve was clear that he had not come across a situation where the Welsh language had discouraged recruitment, as claimed by the Welsh Deanery. Revealing that he was eager to learn the language, he went on to say: “We need to ensure that where patients’ first language is Welsh we can communicate effectively with them. I have not been here long, but I have not come across the Welsh language dissuading people from applying. There are far more significant things locally affecting recruitment that we need to deal with, such as setting out our positive vision for the future. I would rather get on with tackling those things.”

Responding to criticism by Simon Hart MP that the Board’s communication had been poor, the new CEO was clear: “We need to be clear about our overall aim, that patients can get prompt treatment. That might not always be in their local hospital. Clinical practice changes all the time. There is a danger in having a blueprint which needs constant amendment. There are some ‘red-line’ issues, such as the provision of 24/7 A&E, where we need to be open and transparent with the public about the issues we face regarding recruitment. The Board’s approach is how we build an ongoing relationship. We have had a couple of public meetings already and we have learned from those, so that we changed the format of the second meeting at Letterston to be less one of us telling than of us listening. We got it wrong, the public told us we had got it wrong, so we changed the format. We need to continue to flex and also to hear from people that we sometimes do not hear from. We have a strong desire to be out there talking, listening: we are facing big challenges and we need to be honest and open about that. We won’t find all the answers sitting around a board table, we need to communicate and the more we do that, the better it will be for the future of health services in our local area.”

Refusing to be drawn on past issues with communication between the Board and the public, Mr Moore was, however, very clear on his position and that of the Board generally: “The ethos we have is that it is not our health service, it belongs to the taxpayers. I can’t see a more important job for the Board than to engage with the public. We’re not going to solve the problems we face unless we have the public on board, both understanding the challenges and helping us deliver the solutions. You will see our clinicians out there more often: they are the experts and I think it is important the public know their viewpoint and their views. It is also important that clinicians get to hear the public’s point of view.”

Reflecting on the sometimes difficult relationship the Board has had with the media: “I’m looking forward to having a strong relationship with the press, who can help us reach members of the public we do not reach through our efforts alone. There needs to be a positive – and critical – relationship between the media and the Board. We need to celebrate the good news stories about the way our staff deliver services under great pressure and in the face of great challenges.”

Concluding he said: “I am genuinely positive for the future. You only have to visit our hospitals, to sit in a public meeting and feel the public’s passion. The NHS is a great institution. We will have to find new solutions, the world has changed since 1948. I am positive about that change and feel we have a strong platform to work from.”

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Flashbang

    February 19, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Sounds like a load of flannel. As for being motivated to return to the NHS my guess is he’s one of those on the merry go round of CEOs going from one health board to another cutting services and then moving on. Part of the bloated layer of bureaucrats sucking money out of clinical services and into paper pushing.

  2. tomos

    February 19, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    Oh dear, we can say anything and everything – we\’ll judge by actions.I\’d like to ask IF he and his wife/family get private health insurance as part of his remuneration package ?

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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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