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Royal College returns to visit neonatal unit

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hywel-ddaINDEPENDENT reviewers will return to Hywel Dda University Health Board to see how the neonatal (special care baby) service has developed and to speak to staff and service users later this week.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), in collaboration with four other Royal Colleges, undertook an expert evaluation of women and children’s services in 2015, following changes made the previous year.

The review considered changes across maternity and paediatric services, as well as neonatal services, the latter of which was a specific request by the Welsh Government Health Minister.

The review found improved compliance with national and professional service standards and said there was ‘no clinical sense in reversing’ the changes. For neonatal care, it noted improvements had been made to staffing numbers as a result of the change and the development of new neonatal outreach nurse team had resulted in shorter lengths of stay for some babies.

The report also made 54 recommendations for further improvement and enhancements to services to benefit staff and patients. For neonatal services this included the need to progress the capital Phase Two project at Glangwili Hospital to improve the environment and accommodation for families.

The review team will consider again staffing, involvement of parents and families in developments of services, transfers in and out of the unit and areas of good practice or concern. They will speak to a range of staff from the University Health Board, as well as current users.

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Community

County Hall to offer space for community banking

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A CALL for Pembrokeshire County Council to potentially change its banking arrangement with Barclays, after it closed its Haverfordwest branch has been turned down, but County Hall is to offer space for community banking.

Barclays Bank, on the town’s High Street, is to close on May 10.

The council has had a banking services contract with Barclays since 2013.

Councillor Huw Murphy, in a notice of motion heard by Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet meeting of April 22, asked the council to review its banking arrangements with Barclays following the announced closure.

e said the loss of a branch “not only impacts upon town centres and businesses but also disproportionately impacts the elderly who are less likely to embrace on-line banking options”.

A report for Cabinet members said, in terms of the impact on Pembrokeshire residents, Barclays has said that it is “not leaving Haverfordwest and [will] continue to provide face-to-face support for those who need it” via community locations.

Two options were presented to Cabinet: to retender the banking services contract, and, the favoured, to work with Barclays to ensure a community location is set up in Haverfordwest.

Members heard the costs associated with moving to a new banking service provider could be in excess of £50,000.

For the second, favoured option, members heard Barclays was in discussions with the council about a location for potential community banking.

Cabinet Member for Corporate Finance Cllr Alec Cormack, after outlining the risks in the report for members, and moving the notice be not adopted, said he had “considerable sympathy” with Cllr Murphy’s notice.

He told councillors there was a glimmer of light for banking arrangements in the county, with an agreement now signed for two ground floor rooms at County Hall, Haverfordwest, to be used for community banking.

From April 25, the rooms will be available on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, members heard.

Cabinet Member for Planning & Housing Delivery Cllr Jon Harvey also said he had “a lot of sympathy” for the motion, adding: “It’s excellent news a deal has been struck to occupy the ground floor rooms three days a week; hopefully this will mitigate, to a certain amount, the closure.

“If we can work with the respective banks to get a community-type approach let’s move forward.”

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Haverfordwest interchange: Next stage of £19m project backed

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The second stage of building Haverfordwest’s near-£19m transport interchange has been backed, with senior councillors hearing it could cost the council more to not support it.

The transport interchange, which includes an integrated bus station and construction of a new multi-storey car park, is part of a wider series of regeneration projects in the county town.

The total cost of the scheme in the approved budget is £18.881m, £1.987m from Pembrokeshire County Council; the remainder, £16.894m, from an already-awarded Welsh Government grant.

To date, £3.425m has been spent on advanced works, including the demolition of the old multi-storey car park and a temporary bus station.

Members of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, meeting on April 22, were recommended to approve the award of the Stage 2 construction contract for the Haverfordwest Transport Interchange.

The report for members listed two simple options for Cabinet, to authorise the award of a contract, recommended, or to not.

For the latter it warned: “It is envisaged Welsh Government will withdraw the funding awarded and the council would need to repay grants received to date; £10.322m has been received to date of which £3.376m has been offset against expenditure.”

It added: “Cost to cease this project could cost PCC more in terms of grant repayment and any capital work required to make good. PCC match contribution for the project is forecast as £1.987m of the £18.881m.”

Planning permission for the interchange was granted in 2022, with a temporary bus station constructed that year and the old multi-storey building demolished in 2023.

That year, members of the county council’s Cabinet agreed a temporary car park will be sited on the demolished remains of the old multi-storey car park until the Haverfordwest Public Transport Interchange – delayed as no compliant tender had been found at the time – is built.

Speaking at the meeting, Deputy Leader Cllr Paul Miller said: “The interchange is an important part of the regeneration of Haverfordwest, it will not regenerate Haverfordwest on its own, it is part of a wider process. The alternative to us being engaged is we simply allow it to decline and fail.”

He said the interchange was about “making it easier to visit Haverfordwest,” making parking provision “really straightforward, making it easy and convenient as possible”.

Cllr Miller said not progressing with the scheme would risk the grants already obtained, meaning the council could potentially foot the bill for costs to date, at a greater level than progressing.

He said the cost options were a near-£2m subsidised council involvement for the whole scheme or the £3m-plus spent to date if the scheme was ended, which would leave the car park as it is now.

“It’s pretty reasonable that if they give us the money and we don’t build a transport interchange they’ll be looking for that money back,” Cllr Miller said.

He said previous figures from parking revenue – back in 2019 – amounted to £100,000 a year; and could be expected to at least double on a “like-for-like” basis following the increase in parking charges.

Members, after a private and confidential session over the actual contract details, agreed to proceed with the scheme, awarding the contract to Kier Construction Western and Wales.

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Charity

RNLI prepare for summer with medical training exercise in Pembrokeshire

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RNLI lifeguards from the north Pembrokeshire team, volunteers from St Davids RNLI and St Davids Coastguard Rescue Team came together at Whitesands beach on Thursday (18 April), for a multi-agency medical training exercise. Pembrokeshire RNLI lifeguards and St Davids volunteer lifeboat crew took part in a multi-agency medical training exercise alongside St Davids Coastguard Rescue Team in preparation for the upcoming summer season.

The Coastal Medicine programme was set up six years ago at the suggestion of clinicians from Hywel Dda University Health Board. The aim of the programme is train lifeguards, lifeboat crews and HM Coastguard teams in working collaboratively when responding to medical incidents on the coast.

Clinicians from Hywel Dda work with RNLI staff to design exercises simulating mass-casualty incidents on land and afloat. The exercises allow lifeguards, lifeboat crews and Coastguard teams to practise and test their rescue response and casualty care.

The simulated incident at Whitesands involved a medical incident at sea leading to a boat going out of control and ploughing through a group of swimmers causing multiple injuries. RNLI lifeguards responded to casualties on the beach while St Davids inshore and all-weather lifeboat crews dealt with the situation at sea. St Davids Coastguard Rescue supported RNLI colleagues as they would in a real-life scenario.

In total there were six casualties to treat, all of whom were given the immediate medical care by the teams on scene. As in a real-life scenario, they were then prepared to be handed over to the care of the Ambulance Service.

Roger Smith, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager said: ‘The scenario was based on a real-life incident, it’s so important that we train in dealing with challenging situations.

‘The RNLI lifeguards, lifeboat crew, and the Coastguard rescue team worked really well together collaborating together to achieve the best possible result.

‘The feedback from all the participants was really positive, and our medical colleagues were very complimentary about the competence shown and the inter-agency co-operation.

‘This scenario training gives confidence to our lifeguards and lifeboat crews, and ensures the teamwork and communication is already in place ready for real-life incidents.’

Martin Charlton, an RNLI lifeguard in north Pembrokeshire said:

‘Last night’s exercise was a great opportunity for me and my colleagues on the lifeguard team to upskill ahead of the summer season.

‘We regularly attend incidents in the season that require a multi-agency response. These scenarios are a brilliant opportunity to prepare for the the most challenging situations.

‘The team and I thoroughly enjoyed the exercise and feel better prepared for the season as a result.

‘It’s always a pleasure working alongside the Coastguard rescue team and the lifeboat as one crew.’

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