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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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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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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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