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HEART UNIT NEXT TO GO: Alarm as Withybush Hospital faces more cuts



Dr. Sue FishNEWS that the Cardiology service at Withybush General Hospital is to shut has come “like a bolt from the blue” according to local health campaigners.

Widespread fears that the removal of essential services in paediatrics and special baby care were the thin end of the wedge and represented “salami-slicing tactics” by the Health Board appear to have been borne out by the announcement of plans to substantially cut the provision of cardiac care in Haverfordwest.

A week after well over 500 local people protested outside the Senedd in Cardiff Bay, the Health Board chose to release a report dated January 27, 2014 into the future of cardiac care in West Wales.

Relying on what is described as “anecdotal” evidence, the Board commissioned the report in September last year to review cardiac care, around the same time its plans for neonatal care were referred to an a separate expert panel.

THE HEALTH BOARD did not publicise the referral of cardiac services and it was not mentioned by Mark Drakeford, Welsh Health Minister, who rejected the idea that services would be “salami sliced” away from the Haverfordwest hospital.

It is understood that the report proposes further downgrades to outlying general hospitals and the centralisation of cardiac care on West Wales General, Carmarthen.

The press release carried on the Local Health Board’s website says that the report was commissioned “following concerns raised” but fails to say by whom. The Pembrokeshire Herald understands that concerns were raised within the Local Health Board itself by two cardiologists and not by an outside agency.

Local Health Board Medical Director Dr Sue Fish said: “Our patients deserve the best possible care and we would like to reassure patients we take the issues raised in the report very seriously.

“The review did not look at any specific issues relating to individual patients and has not identified any parts of the service that are currently unsafe.

“However, it did make a number of recommendations advising us on how they believe we should configure cardiology services to improve the care of patients across the university health board.

“We will have to consider the recommendations very seriously before reaching a decision on how we implement them.”

Surprisingly, the members of the panel writing the report not only failed to visit West Wales General Hospital, they also failed to visit Bronglais and Withybush Hospitals or to speak to the families of patients who had received treatment at those hospitals.

The conclusion that the panel has drawn is:

“The reality for Withybush and Bronglais is that the current situation is not tenable. Patients served by these hospitals do not appear to receive optimum care.”

Sue Fish responded to the report saying:

“It’s important to stress that no decisions have been made as the project board will need to consider the recommendations with our expert clinicians before firm decisions on the best way forward are made.”

The Health Board will provide its official response to the report at the public board meeting in May. The announcement comes a week to the day after the protest by outraged Pembrokeshire residents at the gradual and ongoing movement of essential health care services away from our County’s only general hospital.

As the Health Board had the report on January 27, it is not clear why its publication was delayed until March 12.

Spokesperson for SWAT Chris Overton said:

“The cardiology move is not a surprise. Very soon all inpatient services will be centralised at Glangwili. There is no room there and nothing is ready!

“The Chairman and Chief Executive are jumping ship. The Welsh Government seem willing to sacrifice a few lives just to save money. None of this was in the Health Board’s consultation, which was a farce. Hopefully we can really expose this now in court! “The next marches and demonstrations need to be much bigger. Are you with us?”

The next protest march to Withybush is scheduled for Saturday, April 12 and a fundraising craft fair will take place on Sunday, April 6 at the Picton Centre, Haverfordwest.

Spokesperson for SWAT Chris Overton said:

“The cardiology move is not a surprise. Very soon all inpatient services will be centralised at Glangwili. There is no room there and nothing is ready!

“The Chairman and Chief Executive are jumping ship. The Welsh Government seem willing to sacrifice a few lives just to save money. None of this was in the Health Board’s consultation, which was a farce. Hopefully we can really expose this now in court!

“The next marches and demonstrations need to be much bigger. Are you with us?”

The next protest march to Withybush is scheduled for Saturday, April 12 and a fundraising craft fair will take place on Sunday, April 6 at the Picton Centre, Haverfordwest.

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Search for missing Pembrokeshire man scaled back by police



FOLLOWING nine days of extensive searches on land and sea, we can confirm that the search for missing man Jai has been scaled back.

Police said in a statement: “We launched a search for Jai, aged 40, in the area around Hobbs Point on the morning of Monday, 20 March, following a sighting of Jai and his car, a silver Honda Civic, in the area.

“In the past week we have carried out extensive searches using the force’s specialist search team and police search adviser (POLSA), marine unit, specialist sonar, drones, dog unit, as well as working with South Wales Police’s dive team, the NPAS helicopter and Coastguard.

“A decision was made yesterday to scale back the search, which has been communicated with Jai’s family.

“However, we will act on new information, and officers continue with missing person enquiries.
“We are appealing for people not to put themselves in danger, particularly near the River Cleddau, if they are attempting to look for Jai.

“If you have information that could help with that investigation, please let us know:”

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Pembrokeshire chef, Daniel Jones, wins Pub Chef of the Year 2023



TALENTED chef Daniel Jones has scooped first prize in the Pub Chef of the Year category at the International Salon Culinaire awards 2023. The finals of the competition took place at ExCel London on 22 March 2023.

Executive chef Daniel is co-owner of JT at the Abergwaun Hotel, the hotel and restaurant in Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, recently awarded a 4* rating by Visit Wales. His winning dish of Lemon Sole, Spring Vegetables, Bluestone Ale and Pickled Cockle Vinaigrette with ‘Welshman’s caviar’ (handpicked laver seaweed from the Pembrokeshire coast) came first place amongst the seven finalists, and will be introduced to the restaurant’s menu this summer.

International Salon Culinaire is regarded as one of the world’s top competitions for chefs, with over 100 categories, from pastry to knife skills. The competition has been a platform for chefs of all levels, from the talented young chefs training at college, to those who are well established and firmly on their culinary career journey. Gordon Ramsey won Chef of the Year in 1992, and the awards have over the years seen world-class ambassadors including Michel Roux Jr and, this year, Monica Galetti.

The Pub Chef of the Year category launched in 2022 to celebrate the fine food in the pubs and bars of the UK, and to recognise the hard work, expertise and talent in the kitchens of these establishments.

First place winner Daniel said: “I am over the moon to win the Pub Chef of the Year at the International Salon Culinaire. It’s a great honour to have cooked alongside other great culinary talent, and I’m delighted to have been recognised by the esteemed judges on the panel this year. I’ll be taking my accolade back to my hometown of Fishguard, where I hope I’ve made the community proud.”

No stranger to competition, Daniel competed in Masterchef: The Professionals in 2010 and he reached the semi-finals of the National Chef of the Year awards in 2018.

His modern European restaurant JT At the Abergwaun Hotel is steeped in Welsh heritage, supporting local suppliers and offering ingredients like Welsh lamb and beef, plus the famous Fishguard Duck and chicken, along with a selection of fine Welsh cheeses. The A La Carte menu changes daily, depending on what can be sourced that day, from locally foraged, farmed or fished ingredients like local lobster and spider crab.

Daniel will be introducing all-day dining on Saturdays for all to enjoy – including non-hotel guests – and this summer, JT At the Abergwaun Hotel will launch a seven-course tasting menu to showcase Daniel’s award-winning cooking (including his winning dish!) and the local Pembrokeshire produce which he’s so proud of.

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Tuk Tuk touring business with franchise hopes gets licence plate call turned down



A SOUTH Pembrokeshire three-wheeler ‘tuk tuk’ tour business, which has hopes of creating a country-wide franchise has had a call for discreet signage on a support vehicle turned down.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s licensing sub-committee, meeting on March 27, considered an application to amend standard terms and conditions of a private hire vehicle.

The application, by Lorraine Niederlag of Begelly-based Tuk Tuk Time, asked for standard external private hire plates to instead be displayed internally for its “usually affluent” clients.

The application for this change of plates asked: “We wish to request the removal of the large private hire licensing plates, in exchange for more discreet internal plates. The intention is to focus on tours that would compliment our tuk tuk tours.”

The applicants said the charming three-wheeler Tuk Tuks were usually kept to south Pembrokeshire tours, and were not really suitable for county-wide day trips; the support car being used for that.

“As our clients are usually affluent, it would be detrimental to arrive in a pre-booked vehicle with such a ‘taxi’ image. In view of all bookings being pre-booked, we cannot see any safety issues for clients by more discreet signage,” the application added.

At the committee meeting, TUK Tuk Time said it hoped to use the support vehicle, bearing the signage “Wales’ premier travel” for some short trips from its campsite to restaurants until the business grew.

Lorraine Niederlag told members it was hoped that Tuk Tuk Tours could eventually become a franchise, with similar three-wheeler Tuk Tuk and support car schemes running in other parts of the country.

She told members that if the small plates call was turned down the support vehicle would be sold.

Cover image: Giving a shout out to the Rainbow Delivery Squad are Lorraine Niederlag, family and staff of Tuk Tuk Time. Picture: Gareth Davies Photography

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