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Doctor: ‘Glangwili will not cope’



crash THE PEMBROKESHIRE Herald has received the explosive full text of a letter sent by a senior clinician at Withybush Hospital, which condemns the Health Board’s proposals for future paediatric care in Haverfordwest as “untested” and “untried”.  

The open letter, from Paediatrician Martin Simmonds, was sent to the Board a week after it announced plans to transfer key neonatal services away from Withybush as of August 1. Dr Simmonds letter, exposes the fact that clinicians DO NOT endorse the Health Board’s policy and have grave reservations about the Board’s decision to press ahead regardless of clinician’s concerns.

The Herald’s article (Big Holes in Board’s “safety net”) in our May 9 edition revealed startling deficiencies in the Health Board’s rationale underpinning ending service provision at Withybush. It now appears that the concerns of campaigners and families who contacted us before that article (“Big Holes in Health Board’s Safety Net”) are shared by those clinicians which the Health Board has claimed support the changes being made.

Peter Milewski, a retired consultant surgeon who worked at Withybush for many years, told the Herald: “It feels like a train crash is about to happen.”

Open letter to Hywel Dda University Health Board 

Please reconsider the proposed Paediatric service model for Withybush Hospital. It must be postponed. This may be our last opportunity to be heard and have our concerns communicated to the Health Board Executive. At a meeting earlier this year (of the dozens I have attended), I said that although not our preferred model a PAU model could be considered if the middle grade rota couldn’t be sustained. It was an untested, untried suggestion without research or risk assessment. A few months later it emerged as the Health Board’s preferred service model. I note that historically the public have received reassurances that these decisions were “clinician led”. I understand the importance of this statement to give credibility to the plans. However, a Health Board statement says that the majority of clinicians support this plan. I am not one of them. I do not know of any Paediatricians in Hywel Dda who have given their support to this service model. Work undertaken by two senior nurses at Withybush, both of whom I regret to say are now absent through illness, have produced research indicating that the risk assessment for a PAU here indicates that it is neither safe or resilient enough to serve the needs of the local population this remote from the hub Paediatric inpatient base. We keep being told to provide answers and not to continually raise concerns and objections to the proposals. The impression is that until we provide the “desired” answer we are hindering the Health Board’s attempt to move forward. We are not “yes” men, we are professionals working in a vocation we are passionate about, with a fear that irreversible harm will occur if the current proposals go through. It has become increasingly difficult to have confidence that our concerns reach the Health Board. Tensions and divisions amongst staff are emerging as the “who knew what and when” charade continues. Don’t tell us NOT to mention potential clinical scenarios in the future that are of “low frequency”. Don’t insult our intelligence or compassion. We are not shroud waving; we just feel it isn’t as safe a service as it should be. Glangwili will not cope with the additional work coming its way this winter, either physically or with respect to workforce issues. Families will end up travelling out of hours from here to Glangwili and then instructed to go to Bronglais to be admitted. We will have babies with bronchiolitis that have to be transferred in an ambulance despite potential deterioration en route because if we insisted on keeping them here to administer supportive treatment, I would be guilty of professional misconduct. A&E staff have only one Consultant with Paediatric experience: that is not sufficient to say they can manage out of hours. I don’t expect the current reliance on locum middle grades to be sustainable once they learn of the absence of local Paediatric support at night. Our concerns: 1. I am not a conspiracy theorist but when the Chairman and Chief Executive elect to move on this summer and the two most senior Paediatricians in Glangwili opt for unexpected early retirement before August 1 it is concerning. 2. Midwifery led services and A&E appear to have been given reassurances about the level of Paediatric support they can expect that we do not recognise in the proposed Paediatric model. 3. Our nurses have spent a considerable amount of time involved in Estates planning at Glangwili. Estates, up until last week I believe, didn’t even know about a planned PAU located within ward 14. This does not give the impression of any concern about how Withybush will manage a seismic change in service in August. You can imagine how valued that makes our staff feel. Please tell them that Dr Simmonds got it wrong about the PAU model, go public and punish him as you see fit. I would rather be a “fall guy” to save the Health Board’s blushes than have the whispered comments in the years to come that I was the architect of this proposal. Tell them we can staff a 24- hour Paediatric unit at Withybush with recently secured middle grade staffing. No, tell them we demand a 24-hour service here such that we can admit a child overnight and discharge the next morning or administer phototherapy for the jaundiced baby from St Davids who must otherwise travel to Glangwili for admission. Tell them we can develop a specialist Paediatric nurse role in A&E but that it will take time. Tell them that unless we stop this process now, this winter will see greater challenges and upset than there needs to be, adversely affecting the health of families and staff both here and at Glangwili. Martin Simmonds Paediatrician Withybush Hospital.

The Pembrokeshire Herald asked the Health Board for a response to Martin Simmonds’ letter. A Health Board spokesperson said: “We welcome the fact that Dr. Simmonds has recognised that change is needed and we want to reassure our patients and we are continuously working with our clinical teams and Welsh Government to find the right solutions and ensure ‘safety nets’ are in place as instructed by the Minister following an independent review of these services by an expert panel. The safety of these services is paramount and we are being very clear that only when we are confident our solutions are safe and sustainable will we implement them.”

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Appeal from Fire and Rescue Service to install working smoke alarms



AT 01:17am this morning, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, crews from Milford Haven were called to a property fire in the Hakin area of Milford Haven.

The fire was confined to a pan on a stove in the kitchen area and extinguished by firefighters using two breathing apparatus, a hose reel jet and a thermal imaging camera.

Crews also ventilated the property and fitted smoke alarms within the property.

The Fire Service left the incident at 02:00am.

Watch Manager Alun Griffiths, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said “This fire was the result of cooking left unattended. It is so important to remove all pots and pans from a heat source when you are called away from the cooker.

“Thankfully, the occupiers of the property managed to exit the property before our firefighters arrived, but it could have ended very differently as there were no smoke alarms fitted in the property.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of installing working smoke alarms in your homes and testing them regularly. In the dreadful event of a fire, they can alert you to the danger sooner and could mean the difference between life and death.

“As a Fire and Rescue Service, we provide Home Fire Safety advice which is free of charge. We also offer Safe and Well Visits which you can arrange by phoning us on 0800 169 1234 or by visiting the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website.”

For further Home Fire Safety advice or to talk about the possibility of a Safe and Well Visit by Fire and Rescue Service personnel, please phone us on 0800 169 1234.​​​ Alternatively please complete an online Request a Safe and Well Visit​ form on the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website:

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Milford Haven: Apocalyptic scenes as work truck catches fire in Meyler Crescent



A MILFORD HAVEN businessman says that he is “absolutely gutted”, after he lost his tipper truck in a dramatic fire overnight.

Callum Hicks, of Meyler Crescent, was woken just after 1am on Monday morning (Mar 1) to see his vehicle in flames, with fuel running down the street on fire.

The apocalyptic scenes brought neighbours out of their homes and the fire brigade was quickly called and put out the blaze.

At this time the police and fire brigade are not suspecting foul play, but in a telephone call to a Herald reporter Callum Hicks said that he thought it was impossible that the vehicle would just spontaneously combust.

Work van: Callum Hicks with his truck, which he says was his “pride and joy”

Explaining that he thought his truck had been set on fire deliberately, he said: “There was CCTV of the fire, but its a football pitch length away, with a white van parked blocking the view of the camera. There was not a clear uninterrupted view.”

“I parked the truck at 2pm on Sunday afternoon so it was 11 hours before the fire started. The vehicle was therefore cold, and locked up.”

Firefighters at the scene

The Herald has asked two mechanics, one of whom has worked on Transit vans for decades. The first said: “It is very unlikely that a vehicle like this would catch fire on it’s own – its impossible – I am 99.9% sure that this was arson.”

The second, a specialist in vehicle electronics said: “There are so many fuses and fail safes its highly unlikely for diesel vans to burst into flames like this without some kind of catalyst.”

Burned out shell: The vehicle after the fire

“There have been issues regarding Transits in the past, even a product recall involving a fire risk from a towing module. But, the chances are a million to one of it catching fire after being parked up for almost twelve hours. It just doesn’t happen.”

The Herald asked Callum Hicks if he could think of anyone who may want to torch his truck. He said that he could not think of anyone who would do such a thing.

Commenting on the police handling of the matter, he said: “They told my missus, Rhianna Pearce, that they were not taking matters further because it was just an accident – its not!”

“I have been in trouble with the police before, and they know I am a bit of a boy, but I think this is the reason that the police are not looking into this properly.

“At the end of the day this was a large fire in a residential area, lives could have been in danger. I have lost thousands because I was insured third-party only and I do not have cover for fire.

Dyfed-Powys Police and Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have been asked for a comment.

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50



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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