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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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Meet the Pembrokeshire Mower Doctor

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A NEW Pembrokeshire business is proving to be an inspiration for young people after its recent launch.

The Pembrokeshire Mower Doctor is the brainchild of Ewan Griffiths, who turned his dream into reality thanks to the advice and support of Cam Nesa.

The project aims to reduce the number of young people aged 16-24 who are not in education, training or employment.

Before signing up to Cam Nesa, Ewan was out of work and struggling for direction, and anxiety was preventing him from maximising his potential.

Throughout his journey with Cam Nesa, Ewan worked closely with youth worker Donna Wright to devise a plan that provided support and guidance to improve his confidence and self-esteem, and provide mechanisms for coping with anxiety.

In addition, the project provided Ewan with opportunities to gain qualifications and obtain information that would help him with starting his own business.

Ewan’s message to other young people is simple, “If you find yourself struggling, there is help.”

“Cam Nesa supported me in all aspects of my plan, and working with Donna was fantastic.”

“I would definitely encourage others to reach out for support.”

Donna Wright, who supported Ewan throughout his Cam Nesa journey, said that the launch of his new business is a great source of pride for Cam Nesa and Pembrokeshire Youth Service.

“Ewan has come on leaps and bounds, and it was his engagement and determination that has made his outcome with Cam Nesa so successful and inspiring”, she said.

“Congratulations Ewan on your achievements, and we all wish you good luck with your new business.”

The Pembrokeshire Mower Doctor provides repairs and servicing for mowers, strimmers, hedge cutters, and most agricultural engines, with the mobile service providing collection and returns.

For more information, search ‘Pembrokeshire Mower Doctor’ on Facebook.

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Milford Haven: Mount estate death not being treated as suspicious say police

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POLICE have confirmed that following a welfare visit to a property in Mount Estate, they discovered a male occupant, in his 30’s, in need of medical help.

Despite the best efforts of medical staff he sadly passed away on Sunday.

A spokesperson for the police confirmed to The Pembrokeshire Herald: “Dyfed-Powys Police attended a property at the Mount Estate, Milford Haven on Friday 30th April 2021, following a report of concern for the welfare of the occupier.

“A male was taken to hospital where he died on Sunday 2nd May 2021.

“The death is not being treated as suspicious.”

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Polling station changes in Pembrokeshire

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POLLING STATIONS in Pembrokeshire are open today (May 6) but a small number may have changed from the last time you voted.

In Neyland, the polling station will be at the new Community Hub building on John Street.

St Katherine’s Church Hall will be the new host for the station in Milford Haven, having previously been held at the Murray Suite in the town hall.

A polling station will be placed at the leisure centre in Haverfordwest while one at Trecwn has been moved to the Gate, Scleddau.

Voters in the county will be electing for the Preseli Pembrokeshire and the Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire constituencies.

People will also be able to select five MSs to represent the Mid and West Wales Region.

The candidate with the most votes will win the constituency but the ballot for the region will be decided by a different process.

People will be elected according to their share of the vote, using a mathematical process, and gives parties who may have won fewer or no constituencies a better chance of winning regional ones.

It will also be a big day for 16 and 17 year olds as they will be able to vote in Welsh elections for the first time.

The ballots will be counted on Friday (May 7) with results expected to come in from the afternoon.

Polling stations opened at 7am and will close at 10pm.

All those who vote will be required to stick to Covid-19 safety measures including wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing.

Clean pencils will be available but voters can bring their own pen or pencil.

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