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Calls for review of paediatric services

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Withybush Hospital: Conservative AM calls for urgent review into paediatrics

Withybush Hospital: Conservative AM calls for urgent review into paediatrics

CALLS for an urgent review of paediatric services at Withybush Hospital have been made by a local Welsh Conservative AM.

The calls by Preseli Pembrokeshire AM Paul Davies came as Hywel Dda University Health Board confirmed that it faces ‘renewed and significant workforce challenges at a consultant level’.

Mr Davies said that a review should be undertaken with a view to reinstating 24 hour paediatric services at Withybush. He added that the downgrade to a 12 hour service had been a ‘disaster for the people of Pembrokeshire’.

The latest developments at Withybush Hospital have been triggered by the retirement of a Consultant Paediatrician, and another who is taking maternity leave.

Mr Davies raised the issue in the Assembly with the Cabinet Secretary for Health after tabling an ‘urgent question’.

Speaking outside the chamber, Mr Davies said: “I have long warned that downgrading services would be catastrophic – not just for local services, but for recruitment generally.

“My worst fears have now been borne out, and for the minister to question the motives of a local member in raising these concerns is totally unacceptable.

“It is clear that the decision to move to a 12 hour service has been an unmitigated disaster for the people of Pembrokeshire. That’s why I’m calling for a commitment to reviewing paediatric services at Withybush Hospital, with a view to restoring a 24 hour service.”

Mr Davies added: “When the original changes were made, I warned that downgrading paediatrics would undermine the sustainability of remaining services.

“It’s hard enough to recruit at a consultant level in the Welsh NHS, but the Health Board itself recognises that there is a ‘particular problem’ here in Pembrokeshire.

“That’s why we need to see clear reassurances from the Cabinet Secretary that these services are secure, and in the short term that the government are taking steps to help the Health Board to overcome some of the recruitment challenges they face.”

Responding to Mr Davies’ calls for an urgent review, Mid and West Wales Labour AM Eluned Morgan said: “Paul Davies and the Tories should stop talking down the incredible service that staff at Withybush Hospital give.”

Ms Morgan added: “He may not have noticed, but there is already an issue with specialist medical recruitment in West Wales, and his constant scare-mongering about the safety of the service will do nothing to attract staff to work in Withybush, nor will it give confidence to patients who need treatment in the hospital.

“I am very aware of the concerns of local patients over paediatric services. But the fact is the Health Board is now much more focused on dealing with issues of recruitment as they arise.

“I’m not sure what an ‘urgent review’ would tell us that we don’t already know. Our priority should be to ensure that we attract specialist medical staff to West Wales to sustain and develop care for the future. That is the same position my Labour colleagues have been lobbying for locally for the last few years.

“The Tories don’t have all the answers; it was not that long ago that Labour had to lobby the UK Tory Government to ensure that immigration controls were relaxed so that 10 foreign doctors could be recruited to keep A&E at Withybush open.

“I am in regular discussion with the Health Board about securing local services. I’ll continue to work to ensure we get the right balance of care that works for the people of Pembrokeshire and the wider Hywel Dda area.”

Also in response to the comments made by Mr Davies, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The Cabinet Secretary made it clear in the Chamber that he was disappointed that the factual evidence available, alongside the very best clinical advice about the service model is being wilfully ignored.

“The review by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health confirms that the new service model has improved outcomes for women and their babies. Denying this is the case creates a climate of fear and uncertainty. This is wholly unnecessary and does a real disservice to the NHS staff providing care to people and families at Withybush.

“Hywel Dda University Health Board is committed to maintaining the paediatric ambulatory care unit at Withybush hospital. Services are available from 10am to 10pm, seven days a week, and local families are being assured that they can continue to access services as they do now and do not need to make changes in how they access care.”

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Tesco shoppers asked to check bank statements after some charged three times

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ANYONE who has shopped in Tesco since Friday, June 11 has been urged to check their bank account and make sure they have been charged the correct amount.

The advice comes as some Tesco customers paid up to three times more for their shopping this weekend after a payment software glitch affected some card payments.

Shoppers who paid via online bank Monzo were charged twice on Friday, according to consumer website MoneySavingExpert.

However, another payment problem struck over the weekend when some shoppers tried to pay for their purchases using contactless payments, only to be told it had been declined.

They then tried to pay again, which worked, only to find that they had been charged twice – or even three times. Some customers on social media said they had to spend “endless time” on their day off talking to their bank.

Following the news that, Libby James, co-founder of www.merchantadviceservice.co.uk, commented: “This software glitch customers experienced in Tesco over the weekend could be down to a host of technical issues varying from an intermittent internet connection, to too many transactions being processed at once – it’s hard to pinpoint the problem. However, shoppers who purchased goods from Tesco over the weekend should thoroughly check their online bank transactions to ensure they have not been overcharged. For those who were affected, they should directly contact the merchant for a refund. Although technology has failed Tesco customers on this occasion, to avoid this where possible in future instances, try not be too hasty when it comes to contactless payments and wait for the transaction to be authorised, rather than tapping again to be safe.”

If you do require more information from Merchant Advice Service, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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Public urged to have say on second homes and empty properties policies

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has begun a consultation exercise on the authority’s policies relating to second homes and long term empty properties.

Reducing the number of second homes and long term empty homes is seen as desirable as increasing the supply of affordable housing across Pembrokeshire is a priority.

Second homes and empty properties reduce the number of houses available to local residents.

Pembrokeshire currently has the second highest rate of second or empty homes in Wales and in 2017 the Council introduced a 50% Council Tax premium on second homes and a premium of up to 100% on long term empty homes.

The money raised in Pembrokeshire is used to support the development of affordable housing, such as a long-term housing project in Solva, as well as providing grants to local projects through the Enhancing Pembrokeshire Grant fund.

The consultation asks respondents to give their views on potential options from April 1, 2022, which include varying the Council Tax premium for second homes and long term empty properties.

The consultation is available here: https://haveyoursay.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/review-of-second-and-long-term-empty-homes

The closing date for responses is Monday 26th July.

If you are unable to complete the survey online, please call 01437 764 551 to request a hard copy response form.

The responses provided will be compiled into a report to be considered by Cabinet before a final decision on the options will be made by full Council on 14th October 2021.

Cllr Bob Kilmister, the Cabinet Member for Finance, urged Pembrokeshire residents to take part in the consultation.

He added: “The more feedback we get on this matter the better. The issue of second homes and empty properties is one that cannot be ignored.

“While people from elsewhere in the UK find it relatively easy to afford property in Pembrokeshire, it is much more difficult for those living and earning locally.

“A high proportion of second homes in a community also poses a threat to the viability of local schools and opportunities to nurture and grow the Welsh language.

“While further possible actions on second homes and long term empty properties are being considered by the Welsh Government, the Council is currently only able to consider the level of Council Tax premium.

“I would ask all Pembrokeshire residents to provide feedback on the options for Council Tax premiums on second homes and empty properties so we have as many viewpoints as possible to consider ahead of future decisions.” 

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Tributes to victim as police confirm fatal workshop fire in Sageston

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POLICE have confirmed that a workshop fire in Sageston over the weekend was sadly fatal and is now being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive.

A spokesperson for the force said: “Dyfed-Powys Police was called to a fire at a workshop at a property in Sageston at shortly after 10am on Saturday, 12 June.

“Sadly, a male was pronounced dead at the scene.

“The Health and Safety Executive and HM Coroner has been informed.”

Mr Scourfield, 56, was in his workshop in the grounds of his home at Sageston on Saturday morning when a fire broke out.

Four fire crews rushed to the south Pembrokeshire village and brought the blaze under control, but sadly, Mr Scourfield died at the scene.

A spokesman for the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “On Saturday June 12 at 10.02am, Joint Fire Control received reports of a fire in a workshop in the village of Sageston in Pembrokeshire and crews from Pembroke Dock, Tenby, Milford Haven and Haverfordwest were mobilised to the incident.

“A total of four appliances and a water bowser were in attendance of the incident.

“The fire was brought under control swiftly by the action of the initial attending crews and a joint investigation has already begun between the Service’s fire investigators and colleagues from Dyfed-Powys police to establish the cause of the fire.

“Due to the unstable nature of the building, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR) were deployed to the incident to provide support in securing the scene as part of the investigation.

“The fire service left the incident at 06.11pm.

Tributes have poured in for Mike.

He was a great supporter of Carew’s sports teams and all three of the club’s cricket games were cancelled on Saturday.

Carew Cricket Club posted on Twitter on Sunday: “The thoughts of everyone associated with the club are with the Scourfield after yesterday’s tragic news.

“Michael was an integral part of the club for decades and his support and sponsorship played a major role in helping the club get to where we are today.

“Over the years he held pretty much every role within the club, from scorer to chairman, and cared deeply about the club.

“There are no words to express the shock and sorrow felt around the club yesterday.

“His loss leaves a massive hole, and he will always be remembered.”

Other clubs also sent their condolences to Carew and to the Scourfield family.

Cresselly Cricket Club posted: “Such devastating news, our thoughts and condolences to all of the family and everyone connected in the community from everyone at Cresselly CC.”

Neyland Cricket club added: “Condolences from all at Neyland CC to the Scourfield family and to all at Carew Cricket Club on this devastating news. Mike epitomised all that was good about cricket. Our thoughts to all at this incredibly sad time.”

Kilgetty Cricket Club also posted: “We’re really saddened to hear the news about Michael. All our thoughts go out to the Scourfield family, Carew Cricket Club and the whole of the Carew community.”

Cresselly seconds also held a minute’s silence for Mike before their game with Laugharne on Saturday.

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