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The NHS is ‘worth fighting for’



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.”

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Return of Walk and Talk group for Dementia Action Week



THE PEMBROKESHIRE Walk and Talk Group will make its return next week, coinciding with Dementia Action Week which runs from May 17-24.

Several events are being held across Pembrokeshire and the UK and PAVS has announced two Walk and Talk sessions.

One will be held in the South of the County in Begelly on Wednesday, May 19, and one in the North of the County in Newport on Thursday, May 20.

Walk and Talk is a dementia supportive group. The group provides the opportunity to socialise, improve your physical and mental wellbeing and at the same time enjoy the wonderful Pembrokeshire scenery. There will be walk and talk groups every week starting from next week.

Places are limited and will be on a first come first served basis,  to book a place on these walks please contact Cherry Evans on 07849 086009 or email

Dementia Action Week aims to promote and make people aware that with the right support, people living with dementia can live a good quality of life doing what matters most to them for as long as possible.

One in fourteen people over the age of 65 are living with Dementia and approximately 42,000 people in Wales have Dementia. 65% of people living with dementia are women and 35% men

The covid-19 pandemic meant that many groups and clubs had to shut down and that has made things difficult for those people living with dementia.

People were left isolated and feeling lonely but thanks to modern technology they have been able to keep many in contact with those groups and their loved ones.

Throughout Dementia Action Week there will be daily interviews on the radio station Pure West Radio with lots of information about the activities and points of reference for support across Pembrokeshire.

These daily interviews will cover everything from diagnosing dementia, support, carers perspectives and even the power of music. You can listen to these each day at 11.15am Monday to Friday and at 2.15pm on Saturday and Sunday

If you fancy trying out a ‘tea and natter’ session on Zoom on Tuesday, May 18, at 2.30pm please contact Cherry Evans on 07849 086009 or email

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Cllr Mike James is new Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council




Cllr Mike James became Chairman at the virtual Annual Meeting of Council today (Friday, May 14) following an extended period as Vice Chairman due to the Covid-19 situation.

Cllr James, who represents St Dogmaels, moves into the Chairman’s seat vacated by Cllr Simon Hancock.

Cllr Pat Davies was appointed Vice-Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council.

At the same meeting Cllr Hancock was appointed Presiding Member for the coming year.

Cllr James joined Pembrokeshire County Council in 2010 and has previously served as Chairman of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and Chairman of National Park Wales.

Cllr James said: “I feel very privileged to be appointed Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council.

“I always try to achieve the best in my life and this is right up there at the top.

“I hope I can achieve the high standard set by Councillors who have been Chairman before me. Councillor Simon Hancock most certainly accomplished that standard.”

Cllr James is married to Sian and they have two daughters, Fern James and Rhiannon Lloyd.

Born and bred in St Dogmaels, Cllr James attended Ysgol Llandudoch and Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi.

He worked for 32 years at Slimma/Dewhirst Cardigan and for four years as an LSA in Ysgol Gyfun Emlyn.

Cllr James has also served as Clerk to St Dogmaels Community Council, as the Carers Champion for Pembrokeshire County Council and as a representative on numerous other committees and sub-committees.

A member of Cardigan Rugby Club Male Voice Choir, Cllr James also sits on the Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Panel.

Cllr James added: “The last 14 months have not been easy for many people. I hope there is a light at the end of a long tunnel where we can meet and speak to loved ones again.

“I am a people’s person and I hope, if I am allowed, to have the opportunity to meet and talk to as many residents in Pembrokeshire as possible.”

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New international travel rules for Wales confirmed by First Minister



International travel will restart for people in Wales from Monday 17 May, the Welsh Government has confirmed today.

As part of changes to Wales’ coronavirus regulations, people living in Wales will be able to travel to some overseas destinations without the need to quarantine on their return.

But additional safeguards will be put in place to help prevent new cases of coronavirus being imported into Wales.

A traffic lights system, aligned with England and Scotland, will be introduced. Countries will be classified as green, amber and red, depending on their rates of coronavirus.

Mandatory quarantine is in place for all people returning to the UK from countries on the amber and red lists. All people returning from overseas travel must have a PCR test.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

 “Wales, like other parts of the UK, will be restarting international travel. But protecting people’s health continues to be our top priority and we want to do everything we can to prevent coronavirus from being re-imported into Wales.

 “This will not be like travel in the past. Everyone travelling abroad will have to have a test when they come home and for many people, they will need to quarantine when they get home. There are significant fines in place for those who do not follow the legal requirements.

“Some countries are not yet opening up travel to people from the UK. It’s my strong advice that this is the year to stay at home and enjoy all that Wales has to offer.”

Under the international travel rules:

• People arriving from green-list countries are not required to quarantine on their return to Wales, but they must book and pay for a mandatory PCR test on or before day two of their return. All travellers and members of their household will also be reminded about the availability of additional lateral flow tests to continue to monitor their health.

• People arriving from amber-list countries are required to quarantine for 10 days at home on their return. This is a legal requirement. They are also required to book and pay for mandatory PCR tests on day two and on day eight. Unlike in England, Wales does not operate a test-to-release scheme where an additional test can be taken on day five to reduce the period of quarantine. This is because some 30% of people who develop Covid-19 do so after day five.

• People arriving from countries on the red list are required to quarantine for a full 10 days on arrival in the UK at a designated UK port in a government-managed facility – a ‘covid hotel’ – at their own cost, starting from £1,750 per person. All UK entry points for arrivals from red-list countries are in England and Scotland, which means Welsh residents returning from those countries will need to quarantine outside Wales. Travellers are also required to book and pay for mandatory PCR tests on day two and day eight.

All those who do not follow the rules for red-list countries face fixed notice penalties of £10,000.

Welsh residents must also consult the requirements for visitors for any country they plan to travel to. Restrictions may be in place, including proof of vaccination, tests, quarantine and reasons for entry.

Vaccination status certificates will be available for people in Wales who have had two doses of their vaccination and need to urgently travel to a country that requires covid vaccination proof from Monday 24 May.

The First Minister added:

“We call on people to think about whether they need to travel overseas at this time. We should be cautious about going abroad in light of the ongoing risk of coronavirus and the presence of variants of concern in many countries.

“My clear message to everyone is make Wales your destination of choice this year.”

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