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Cancer Day Unit?

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day unitTHE Hywel Dda Health Board’s Glossy Charitable Funds Website has a quote which says: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.

Fine words indeed, said by an American anthropologist who died in 1978, not words from a local Pembrokeshire NHS Cancer patient. The words are excellent and very true, but a group of committed Pembrokeshire citizens have raised funds for ten years now for a new Cancer Day Unit and refurbished Ward 10 at Withybush Hospital and still they wait.

I recently read a Hywel Dda Charitable Funds Committee Summary Report which was written in November 2010. It stated that a decision could not be made until after the clinical review had concluded in the summer of 2011.

They provided assurances that the Cancer Day Unit was NOT under threat and the Chairman, Mr Chris Martin, agreed to issue a statement to provide assurance to the local population. The statement never happened and two and a half years on still nothing happens with the CDU and Ward 10.

In the report from a meeting, held on September 29, 2011 whose subject was the Charitable Funds Committee Report, point 13 stated: “Current (Charitable) Fund Balances – Charitable Funds could be used for priority items which had just failed to be funded from the Capital Programmes.” Is that what people have given donations for? And do they know this?

I was a member of the Cancer Day Unit Stakeholders Committee and we met regularly discussing the progress etc. In June 2012 the meetings stopped, a couple were arranged and then cancelled at short notice and then nothing. When asked, no one from Hywel Dda would give a reason why the meetings stopped.

I received a reply, to a Freedom of Information request I had made on March 1, 2012 which gave me the Hywel Dda Local Health Board Charitable Funds – Pembrokeshire Division Balances as at March 31, 2011.

I was criticised at one of these CDU Stakeholders meetings for doing this Freedom of Information request to ask for details of the Charitable Funds held for Ward 10 and the CDU, and for giving the details to the local newspapers. I felt the use of Charitable Funds was in the interest of the Pembrokeshire public, who after all had donated all this money.

The balance of Pembrokeshire Charitable funds was £3,056,252.86. My main concern is for Cancer Services and I was amazed to see that Ward 10 at Withybush Hospital, which is greatly in need of a facelift, had an incredible £292,705.01. I have spent a fair amount of time on Ward 10 due to my own cancer problems. It is certainly in need of some updating even if only to make it a more uplifting environment conducive to helping recovery. The staff on Ward 10 are excellent and I have nothing but praise for the work they do. How could it be justified to be sitting on nearly £300,000 which in all honesty had taken some time to accumulate?

The Cancer/ Chemotherapy Day Unit had £239,447.64 in charitable funds. It can be regularly seen in the local newspapers how people work hard to raise funds for this unit staffed by wonderful doctors and nurses. Many people who have sadly lost their fight with cancer leave money to the unit to help others in the future.

So why was £239,447.64 not being utilised to improve the unit? I owe my life to the staff on CDU and therefore feel I need to speak out for them. This was 2011, can you imagine how much has been added to the pot since then. Every week in the papers it shows people leaving money to the CDU and Ward 10.

However, since then the Charitable Funds position has changed. Now funds go into three pots, one of which is Cancer Services and can allegedly (because they will not confirm or deny) be spent anywhere in the Hywel Dda Health Board area. So money raised for Pembrokeshire by Pembrokeshire people is not necessarily spent in Pembrokeshire. So how much does the Cancer Day Unit and Ward 10 have now? Well no one at Hywel Dda seems to know when the question is asked.

I wrote to Mark Drakeford (Health Minister at the Welsh Assembly), in November 2013, who told me: “I have been informed that the Health Board is planning to create a CDU at Withybush Hospital by refurbishing existing accommodation with funds from local fundraising.” I wrote to Mr Chris Martin (Hywel Dda Chairman) who would only say services are being reviewed.

This week I saw the approved minutes of the Hywel Dda Charitable Funds Committee Meeting held on September 3, 2013. The agenda item CF(13)55 said: “The committee considered and agreed to ring fence the £300k towards the creation of a new Cancer Day Service and £250k for the refurbishment of Ward 10.”

This sounds brilliant, although we have been told that money has been ring fenced before and nothing has happened, but the next sentence says: “This development would help appease local feeling in Pembrokeshire and provide a positive message.” So the Health Board are going to “appease” the public of Pembrokeshire. What does appease mean to you? To me it is to pacify or placate, to bring peace, quiet, or calm to; to soothe.

The Pembrokeshire public do not want to be “appeased” they want a new Cancer Day Unit and a refurbished Ward 10. Many of us have gone through cancer, are going through cancer or will one day find out we have cancer. We need proper facilities and top quality services. We have top quality doctors and nurses on CDU and Ward 10 at Withybush Hospital so give them the tools to do the job properly.

Don’t get me started on poor old Dr Anne Barnes MBE (for services to Cancer Patients in Pembrokeshire) who desperately needs support as she does about three jobs at the same time on Ward 10, as consultants have left and not been replaced. So, Mr Trevor Purt, Chief Executive and Mr Chris Martin, Chairman of the Hywel Dda Health Board – “Where is our new cancer care unit?”

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New Information Centre opens at Withybush Hospital for those affected by Cancer

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A NEW Macmillan Information and Support Centre has opened at the entrance to Hywel Dda University Health Board’s Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest to help those looking for advice and support about cancer.

The Centre has been officially opened by 10-year-old Ethan Llewelyn-Dimon, from Whitland. He recently raised a staggering £3,600 for Macmillan Cancer Support Wales by growing his hair to make a wig for the Little Princess Trust. Ethan’s family has been affected by cancer twice. His aunty Jo and mamgu had cancer. Sadly he never got to meet his aunty, as she passed away before he was born. Thankfully his Mamgu survived although she had three operations and lost her hair during the treatment. Ethan decided to grow his hair long enough to be made into a wig for children going through cancer and wanted to raise money as well to give something back to those who helped his family.

The new Information and Support Centre is open 9am – 5pm, from Monday to Friday. Helen Wood and Rachel Kersey, Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Coordinators, will be in the Centre to offer information and support.

Helen Wood said, “Being told that you have cancer is one of the hardest things that you hear, and it can be a scary time where sometimes you just need someone who you can ask for support and information about what is out there that might help. This is why we developed the Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Service and have been supporting people in Pembrokeshire for the past six years. We are there for anyone affected by cancer in many different ways from emotional support and someone to talk to, help to access psychological support from specialist Cancer Counsellors or a referral to the Macmillan Benefits Advice Team. We can provide both electronic and hard copies of the various Macmillan resources or signpost to other local and national organisations or support networks.” 

The pandemic meant support was only available over the phone but the opening of the Centre means face to face meetings are once again possible, but for the time being it must be a booked appointment to help keep everyone as safe as possible. 

Official opening of new cancer information and support centre in Withybush hospital

Rachel Kersey said, “It is always a privilege to be able to help, no question is too small and if you are unsure of what you need, just give us a call on 01437 773859.”

Anna Tee, Partnership Manager for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, said, “Macmillan is delighted to have designed and funded this fantastic new space for people who need cancer information in collaboration with Hywel Dda.”  

Gina Beard, Lead Cancer Nurse for Hywel Dda University Health Board said, “This is a service that is provided throughout Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire and when circumstances allow, we will reach out to local businesses and attend events. The support service is here for people with concerns around a cancer diagnosis whether that’s the individual, friends or family. We are urging patients to come forward for diagnostic tests as we are concerned that many are still not seeking the care they need due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We want people who suspect they have cancer to know we are very much open for business.”

The way the public access NHS services has changed and the Welsh Government is encouraging people to get to know the breadth of NHS services and options available to them as part of its Help Us, Help You campaign. The Macmillan support service can help with support and advice. The Health Board are also urging people to phone their local GP surgery if they think they might have symptoms of cancer, such as a new lump, pain, bleeding or sudden weight loss.

The Macmillan Information and Support Centre can be contacted by telephoning: 01437 773 859 or email: MacmillanCISSPembrokeshire.HDD@wales.nhs.uk

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Four charged with conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine in west Wales

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FOUR people have been arrested and charged as part of an investigation into an organised crime gang supplying class A drugs from London to various locations in west Wales.

Dyfed-Powys Police, with support from The Met Police, carried out warrants at four addresses on July 21, resulting in four arrests.

Mohammed Osman, aged 23, Yonis Mohammed, aged 20, Salman Mohamoud, aged 23 – all from Islington – and Amy Simmons, aged 21, from Dulwich were charged with a total of 12 offences:

  • Mohammed Osman: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine,
  • Yonis Mohammed: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.
  • Salman Mohamoud: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine
  • Amy Simmons: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.

All four appeared at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Friday, July 23, where they were remanded in custody.

They are due to appear at Swansea Crown Court for their next hearing on August 20.

The investigation is being carried out by the Ceredigion Serious and Organised Crime Team, Aberystwyth CID and the Operation Orochi command of the Met Police.

Detective Sergeant Steve Jones said: “These four arrests and charges are the result of a coordinated approach to target an organised crime gang we believe is running a county lines operation into the Dyfed-Powys Police force area.

“We will continue to work diligently to disrupt gangs of this kind, to prevent the supply of illegal substances into our community.

“I would like to thank all officers involved, as well as the Met Police for their part in the operation.”

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Fishguard RNLI rescues drifting pleasure boat and crew

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ON SATURDAY evening  (Jul 24) a member of the public walking the coastal path near Carregwastad Point saw, in the fading light, a pleasure boat with people aboard apparently in difficulty. The member of the public then called 999.

This resulted in Fishguard RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat launching at 8.50pm with a full volunteer crew and speeding to the scene in calm sea conditions. Upon arrival at the location the lifeboat found a 7 foot pleasure boat drifting with four young men onboard.

Location of incident at Carregwastad Point, North Pembrokeshire (Image ONS)

The boat’s outboard engine had broken down and they had no auxiliary engine or any safety equipment, no lights, and no form of communication.

A tow line was attached to the boat and the men were transferred to the lifeboat.

One of the lifeboat crew went aboard the pleasure boat for the return journey to Goodwick public slipway where UK Coastguard personnel were waiting to speak with the four men.

The lifeboat returned to its station, arriving at 9.50pm.

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