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Oncology cancer services in crisis

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MANY PEOPLE have used the cancer services at Withybush Hospital over the years and have got used to the “glue” which sticks it together, namely Dr Anne Barnes MBE.

 Not many people are aware that she has decided to leave in July of this year. Dr Barnes is a true professional and when questioned is not one to complain, but when reading between the lines it is obvious that Dr Barnes has reached the end of her tether. A total lack of support from the Hywel Dda Health Board has left Dr Barnes close to exhaustion and burn out. Many cancer patients will be aware she rarely takes leave, gets in early and leaves late, comes in to work on days off etc. Yet Dr Barnes is treated with contempt by the ‘powers that be’ because they know she will not let her patients down and they take advantage of her goodwill. In short, the health board is aware that she will go the extra mile and are happy to take advantage of this. She has been working alone in Ward 10 for far too long and when the palliative care consultant left it was just expected that she would take up the slack and do that job as well. A job advertisment for a consultant was drawn up, agreed and then left unadvertised so that the time limit lapsed. I am informed that a new advert was sent for approval at regional level, and after nearly two years without a consultant, has just been advertised. On April 6 I received a letter from the vice-chair of Hywel Dda Health Board, Mrs Sian-Marie James after I asked her what happens when Dr Barnes leaves? The letter said: “Whilst it is not possible for us to discuss with you the detailed personal arrangements affecting members of staff, I do know that Dr Barnes has been very open regarding her intention to retire this year. Because of this, and other challenges affecting our oncology service, we have therefore set up a review group to look at the best service model for the future. We face serious recruitment challenges. At present, we have visiting consultants from Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board who are working significantly above normal capacity and we are unable to offer appropriate sub-specialisation opportunities for existing consultants. There are also other issues, including capacity problems related to pharmacy services.” It has now come to light that one of the visiting consultants mentioned above, Dr Maung Moe, is also leaving his position which leaves us in an even bigger hole. The letter went on to say: “Dr Barnes is a key member of this review group, which includes membership from the Hywel Dda Community Health Council, as well as public health professionals and clinicians from ABMU Health Board. The future arrangements for supporting oncology services at Withybush Hospital will therefore depend on the output from this group.” From the outset, it was agreed that any developments proposed by this project group would be in line with the Calman-Hine principles, in particular that ‘care should be provided as close to patient’s home as is compatible with high quality, safe and effective treatment’. The areas the review group will focus on include: • Staffing issues: including inequity of staffing provision across the three counties, review of job plans, improved ways of working alongside current capacity issues; • Aseptic unit provision: issues being experienced around activity, patient waiting times and staffing pressures; • Information management: ensuring activity is consistently monitored; • Cross border working arrangements: maximising the way Hywel Dda works with its partners; • Transport issues: service pressure for those travelling to Singleton for radiotherapy, ensuring safe transfer of patients back from Cardiff (for those having pet scans or nuclear medicine); • Development of an acute oncology service/developing a new service model: updating services, consideration of patient pathways, shared post opportunities, repatriation issues, etc. I know this group was not set up because Dr Barnes announced that she was leaving. This group was announced before Dr Barnes informed them that she was going, and now visiting consultant Dr Moe is going as well. The group was set up because the Hywel Dda Health Board knows that they have let things slide and now we face a crisis with the delivery of services for cancer patients at Withybush Hospital. Some Cancer Patients are already facing journeys to Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli to see Consultants they would recently have seen locally. The wig service at Withybush Hospital for chemotherapy patients was removed and the contract given to a local hair salon. As a private company this obviously made the cost much more expensive for patients. After a fight this service was reinstated at Withybush Hospital, but not sure for how long as an all-Wales Review is taking place into this service. If you have concerns about cancer services or any other services at Withybush Hospital I urge you to contact your MP, your assembly member, local councillor, the community health council, Hywel Dda Health Board.

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Community

Pembrokeshire’s ‘Pure West Radio’ celebrates sixth birthday

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THERE ain’t no birthday like a Pure West birthday! 

Pure West Radio – Pembrokeshire’s multi-award-winning radio station is celebrating its sixth birthday this month – and is ready to move up a gear when it starts broadcasting on DAB later this summer. 

Pure West, which now has a staff of 12, and a team of over 90 volunteers bringing news, sport, entertainment and information to the airwaves of Pembrokeshire, celebrated its sixth anniversary on April 4 – and decided to share its celebrations with its loyal listeners – giving no fewer than 1,100 of them free tickets to some top local events. 

For the Pure West Team the birthday was marked with a staff party at Seven Spice in Haverfordwest – but for listeners the treats were more varied. 

Pure West Radio joined forces with Ocky White Travel – itself celebrating a 60th anniversary – to give away a cruise holiday to one lucky winner. On April 3 nurse Ffion Thomas, from Johnston, was announced as the winner of the seven-day P&O cruise to the Norwegian Fjords. She is taking her mum along with her as a 60th birthday treat when the Iona sets sail from Southampton on May 18. 

And the giveaways didn’t stop there… Mark Edwards kindly shared 100 free tickets for a celebratory Silent Disco at Eddie Rocks, in Haverfordwest, that were snapped up within an hour – so a hundred more were released; Pure West Radio also teamed up with Hangar 5, also in Haverfordwest, and offered two one-hour free bounces for listeners, but again demand far outweighed expectations, so another hour’s bounce was provided. 

In addition, Pure West Radio joined forces with The Palace Cinema, in Haverfordwest, for a free showing of Shrek – the Movie – but, yet again, a second showing had to be booked to accommodate all those who wanted tickets. 

And sports fans haven’t been left out of the party – Haverfordwest County AFC, media partners of Pure West, have supplied 100 free tickets for the Bluebrids final home game of the season against Colwyn Bay to the broadcaster’s listeners. 

“Our birthday celebrations were immense,” said Toby Ellis, Station Manager, “We gave away 1,100 free tickets to local events to make sure our dedicated listeners and followers were able to join in the party… putting a smile on the faces of more than a thousand Pembrokeshire people. 

“And while the birthday celebrations are winding down – Pure West Radio – the only radio station based in Pembrokeshire – is gearing up for the next phase in our story. 

“The licence for DAB broadcasting is in place – and we hope to go live within the next few months. 

“We’ve expanded our staff and are currently looking for a full-time show producer – so anyone interested should email [email protected] to find out more, and we have some new sponsors – Ocky White Travel is now the official sponsor of Pure West’s daytime show and Folly Farm sponsors the breakfast show. 

“And we’ve teamed up with yet more Pembrokeshire businesses who are taking advantage of our huge reach to spread their message across the county. 

“There really is something for everyone on Pure West Radio – tune in via app, smart speaker and check out our website for the latest going on in Pembrokeshire, he added.” 

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Crime

Suspended sentence for distribution and possession of child abuse images

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IN a controversial decision at Swansea Crown Court, 20-year-old Euwyn Draper of Goat Street, Haverfordwest, has been spared prison time despite admitting to possessing and distributing indecent images of children.

The court heard that Draper pleaded guilty to charges involving 74 Category A images — the most severe — along with 102 Category B and 385 Category C images. These were amassed and shared over a period last year, with specific distributions occurring on November 4, 2022.

Prosecutor Sian Cutter detailed that the investigation began with a raid at Draper’s residence on December 21, 2022. Although Draper was not present, and initial searches of his devices at his home returned no results, subsequent actions led to his arrest at his workplace. Upon confronting law enforcement, Draper immediately acknowledged his awareness of the reasons for their presence, lamenting, “I know why you’re here. I don’t do it anymore. I’m sorry.”

Further examination of his phone revealed not only the indecent images but also concerning internet searches and conversations indicating a focus on children. Notably, Draper had sent one image of each category to a contact named “Ralph” via WhatsApp.

Despite these admissions, Draper, who has no prior convictions, denied a sexual interest in children during his interview.

Representing Draper, defence lawyer Dan Griffiths stressed the defendant’s recognition of the gravity of his offences and highlighted his client’s age and immaturity at the time of the offences. The court also considered the prolonged period since the arrest to the trial, a span of 16 months.

Judge Geraint Walters addressed the court, underscoring the public’s disdain for such crimes and the harsh reality behind the images. “These are real children, they are not actors,” Judge Walters emphasized, condemning the market that drives such exploitative material.

Ultimately, Draper received a suspended sentence of 12 months for distribution and six months, concurrent, for making the images. Over the next two years, he must complete the Horizon programme and 30 days of rehabilitation activities. Additionally, Draper will be registered as a sex offender and is subject to a sexual harm prevention order for ten years.

Judge Walters concluded with a stern admonition for Draper to commit to rehabilitation and to move past this “dark phase” in his life, marking a pivotal moment for the young defendant and the community’s ongoing battle against such digital crimes.

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Community

The Harbourmaster: Special rail excursion draws crowds to Milford Haven

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MILFORD HAVEN witnessed an extraordinary event yesterday as a special charter train, operated by UK Railtours, made a unique visit to the town, drawing in 500 railway enthusiasts. Departing from London Paddington, the 13-carriage train, which included both first class and standard accommodations, travelled off the usual passenger routes to provide a scenic journey along the south Wales coast.

Starting the day with pick-ups from various locations including Slough, Reading, Swindon, and Bristol Parkway, the train ventured through the Severn Tunnel into Wales, showcasing a series of rarely used freight tracks. Notably, the locomotive switched at Newport to a pair of GBRf Class 66 freight engines, enhancing the experience for those on board by traversing tracks seldom seen by passenger services.

The journey took passengers through Cardiff, Bridgend, and Port Talbot Parkway, deviating at Court Sart Junction to follow the diversionary Swansea District line. The train paused at various locations including Llanelli and Haverfordwest, where passengers enjoyed a 90-minute break while the train was serviced.

A major highlight of the trip was the exploration of the seldom-visited Robeston branch, a treat for the rail enthusiasts who filled the train to capacity, necessitating a waiting list for hopeful travellers. The venture concluded at Milford Haven, where passengers disembarked for a photo session before the train commenced its return journey to London, including a final scenic pass via the Swansea Avoiding line and the Bishton flyover.

Local Councillor Nicola Harteveld of Milford Haven Town Council expressed delight at the influx of visitors, noting, “What an incredible sight at Milford Waterfront today with passengers enjoying our local scenery. It’s a testament to the unique charm and appeal of special rail tours.”

First class passengers were treated to The Great British Breakfast and a four-course dinner, while a buffet car served those in standard class, ensuring all passengers enjoyed their journey with comfort and style.

This tour, fully booked in all classes, underscores the continuing enthusiasm for unique rail experiences in the UK, combining a love for heritage rail with the exploration of less-travelled tracks. As the train made its way back to London Paddington, the participants reflected on a day filled with adventure and picturesque landscapes, leaving them with memories of a rare rail journey along the historic and scenic routes of Wales.

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