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AM petitions Government to overturn Royal Mail sale

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THE PRIVATISATION of Royal Mail will mean higher prices and a poorer service for rural communities, Assembly Member Joyce Watson has warned.

The Labour AM for Mid and West Wales has written to business minister Vince Cable MP urging him to ditch the £3bn sell-off.

Mrs Watson says a privately owned service would not maintain the unprofitable parts of the business leading to higher prices and worse services in rural Wales.

“This sale is all about securing a short-term win for the Treasury not the Royal Mail’s future. It is bad enough that the Tories are selling the family silver, but they are flogging it cheap. Royal Mail’s assets are worth billions and the quality of the service it provides to isolated communities is priceless. I have been inundated with messages from constituents who are furious that another British institution is being sold off. The UK Government must listen to the public outcry and drop these plans now.”

The Pembokeshire Herald can being you the letter in full:

The Rt. Hon. Vince Cable MP

Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

Dear Dr Cable,

I have received concerns from many of my constituents regarding the proposed privatisation of the Royal Mail by the UK Government. Any such privatisation could have a significant impact on the towns and rural communities of Mid and West Wales that I represent.

Until 2012 stamp prices were subject to regulatory control which meant that individuals and businesses were protected from excessive price rises. However, the price of a first class stamp rose from 46p to 60p. As a private company, focused on increasing shareholder returns, it is likely that the Royal Mail will want more significant price increases.

Many businesses are dependent on the Royal Mail. The delivery of letters and parcels to any address in the UK is a service we cannot do without. For many small businesses, especially those in rural areas there is often no alternative to the Royal Mail. While these businesses are already suffering from high overhead costs, they can ill afford to see the cost of using the postal service rocket.

The Royal Mail delivers where competitors refuse to go. In my region of Mid and West Wales I see little evidence of private companies seeking to compete. My constituents understand that it costs more than the price of a stamp to deliver a letter to a rural address. That is why, despite assurances to the contrary, the postal services regulator is working to determine the real cost for deliveries to rural areas. It has also looked recently at how it can reduce the daily delivery service to addresses in the countryside. A privately owned Royal Mail will not want to maintain this non-profit making service. It is difficult to see how the government might be able to compel a private enterprise to continue to provide this service.

The local post office is a focal point for the life of so many small towns and villages across Mid and West Wales. Where pubs and other shops have disappeared, the post office has remained. But when that goes, I fear that the life of these communities will also disappear. This would have a significant impact on the elderly, disabled and those who cannot travel – already the most vulnerable members of these communities.

Many small post offices have a fragile existence and rely upon Royal Mail for business to survive. Yet the 2001 Postal Services Act fully separates the Post Office Counters’ network from Royal Mail. The government will point to a recently signed business agreement between the two. But that cannot guarantee that a new, private owner, free to do as they choose, will honour that agreement in the long-term. For example, they may wish to re-negotiate its terms or move more of its business to other retail outlets.

Many of my constituents will also miss the traditional red liveried vehicles, the use of Her Majesty’s head on stamps and the distinct pillar boxes are all part of the rich history of Royal Mail and a feature of our towns and countryside. While we must always look to the future, it would be a great shame if this heritage would disappear following privatisation.

I would be grateful if you would consider the concerns of my constituents and review your decision to privatise the Royal Mail.

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Four UK forces are piloting a new service to report sexual assault online

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THE NEW online Rape and Sexual Assault reporting service is now live on the websites of British Transport Police, Merseyside Police, Dyfed Powys Police and Leicestershire Police.

It was created by the National Police Chief’s Council’s (NPCC) Digital Public Contact Programme (DPC) and launched on Tuesday 30 November.

The pilot will run for six weeks.

People wishing to report sexual offences have until now been directed to phone police forces, text 61016 in the case of British Transport Police, or dial 999 in an emergency.

If they do not require immediate police assistance, people – regardless of age or if they want to report the crime – will be directed online via their local force website.

They will find advice and details of charities and other organisations that can help. The forces will ask, if the person is willing, for details of what has happened. There is an option to report the offence anonymously. If reported anonymously, the police will only contact that person if there is believed to be an immediate threat to their life.

Det Ch Insp Sarah White from British Transport Police said: “We know from extensive research that there are a number of reasons why survivors and witnesses are not comfortable in reporting sexual offences to the police.

“One of the common factors remains the unwillingness to provide personal details. We understand this and have been working to look at how we can invite greater reporting, which can help us prevent further crimes and bring offenders to justice.

“Every report provides us with valuable information. And if people aren’t comfortable with making that report, then we want them to know how they can get the support and help they need.

“This new service in not only innovative in the way it has been designed – from the ground up in consultation with more than 40 organisations (including Rape Crisis, End Violence Against Women and the Survivors Trust) – but also in the way it is being deployed – online where people, especially younger people, increasingly are.”

When visiting the websites of those forces, options are available to report a sexual offence themselves, on behalf on another person, or as a witness. People can choose to report in English or Welsh.

If the pilot is successful, it will become a permanent reporting feature and will be available for other forces to adopt nationally.

Det Ch Insp White added: “We’re absolutely committed to ensuring our railways are a safe place for people to travel and we hope this is just another tool in our armoury against sexual offending.”

British Transport Police has also been accredited by White Ribbon, committed to ending violence against woman and girls. It recently signed a pledge encouraging all men within the organisation to make a promise to never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.

Detective Superintendent Jayne Butler, Dyfed-Powys Police, said: “As a White Ribbon accredited organisation, committed to ending violence against woman and girls, protecting vulnerable people is a priority for Dyfed-Powys Police and we know how traumatic being the victim of a sexual offence is.

“We encourage victims to come forward to report incidents of this nature so we can thoroughly investigate the crimes whilst ensuring that all victims have the opportunity to be referred for specialist support. The ability to report a sexual offence online will provide another avenue for victims to come forward so we can help them and bring offenders to justice.” 

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Dai thanks emergency services that helped save his life

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A PEMBROKESHIRE dad-of-three has thanked the emergency services that helped save his life.

In February Dai Davies was getting ready for bed when he suddenly collapsed and had a cardiac arrest.

Dai’s wife Taryan and son Caleb, 18, helped save his life as they performed CPR on Dai whilst waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

When the paramedics arrived, Dai’s heart was in an abnormal rhythm and not beating normally. The paramedics took over resuscitation, delivered two shocks and the second shock brought his heart back into a normal rhythm.

When the Wales Air Ambulance Charity helicopter arrived with its overnight critical care team – Dr Matt O'Meara, Critical Care Practitioner Marc Allen and pilot Nobby Norris – Dai started to come around and became agitated and wasn’t breathing effectively.

They rapidly assessed him and found his oxygen levels were low and needed to take over his breathing. To do this they gave him a general anaesthetic and then placed him on a ventilator to breathe for him.

The procedure is delicate, complex and time-critical. It is only possible outside of a hospital environment through the Wales Air Ambulance and the fact that they have experienced consultants on board.

It is one of the many emergency department-standard treatments that the Charity is now able to deliver at the scene of an incident – improving the chances of survival and recovery.

Once the on-scene treatment was complete, Dai was airlifted directly to the cardiac centre at Morriston Hospital in Swansea.

The flight from his home in Neyland to hospital took just 25 minutes by air, a journey that would have taken approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes by road.

Speaking of the lifesaving service, Dai said: “I am forever grateful to the ambulance service and the Wales Air Ambulance for the work they did and to get me to the hospital as quickly as they did. I really appreciate everything they’ve done for me. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here.”

The father-of-three was a keen runner and cyclist before he was taken ill, reflecting on whether there were any signs that could have indicated a potential problem, Dai said: “I had a pain in my back whilst I was refereeing a match about five years ago. I had MRI scans and physiotherapy and continued to live with the on-off pain. Since it happened, I’ve been reading up on cardiac arrests and these symptoms were a big indicator.”

The learning support assistant, at Haverfordwest High School, underwent surgery to have three stents put in and was discharged from hospital a few days later.

He said: “I’m feeling okay. I’ve had three stents put in, lost 10 kilograms in weight through cardiac rehab and cut out all the nice things. My wife has also bought me a new peloton bike to continue my fitness at home. My children, Chloe, Caleb and Aidan, all notice a change in me since the cardiac arrest, they think I’m more placid now.”

Throughout his recovery Dai received expert guidance and help by having personal training from cardiac rehabilitation instructor Dave Braithwaite. Dai is now looking forward to the future.

Jo Yeoman is a patient liaison nurse who works in partnership with the Wales Air Ambulance Charity. She said: “We are delighted to see that Dai is on the road to recovery. Dai’s story demonstrates the vital chain of survival, from CPR, defibrillation and then critical care.

Taryan and Caleb were incredible and the partnership work between the Wales Air Ambulance and Welsh Ambulance Service medics ensured that Dai had the best possible care before reaching the specialists at Morriston Hospital.

“The Wales Air Ambulance Charity introduced an overnight helicopter in December 2020, making it a 24/7 service. The Charity needs to raise £8 million every year to maintain the 24/7 operation and Dai’s story highlights the importance of having an air ambulance service that runs during the night as well as the day.”

Christian Newman, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Locality Manager in Pembrokeshire, said: “In a cardiac arrest, every second counts, and the CPR started by Dai’s wife and son gave him the best possible chance of survival. Our joint efforts with Wales Air Ambulance colleagues, and later the care that Dai had from the specialists at Morriston Hospital, just goes to show how important partnership working is to a patient’s care. We wish Dai all the very best on his continued recovery.”

There are several ways that the public can continue to support the Wales Air Ambulance Charity. These include online donations, signing up to the Charity’s Lifesaving Lottery or by coming up with innovative ways to fundraise. Further information can be found via www.walesairambulance.com. 

Alternatively, a £5 text-message donation can be made by texting the word HELI to 70711.

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New videos launched to support care for children and young patients

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Hywel Dda - Children's services

PARENTS, carers of children and young people are being reminded that they can still access 24/7 minor injury care for children at Withybush General Hospital, or during daytime hours at Tenby Walk-in Centre and Cardigan Integrated Care Centre.

Hywel Dda University Health Board has created a series of new information videos explaining the types of care that we are currently able to provide for children and younger patients following the temporary move of the Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit (PACU) at Withybush.

Minor injury units can treat adults and children over 12-months of age, with minor injuries such as the following:

Minor wounds
Minor burns or scalds
Insect bites
Minor limb, head, or face injuries
Foreign bodies in the nose or ear

Minor injury units are run by an experienced team of highly skilled specially-trained emergency nurse practitioners, triage nurses and health care support workers. Some are located on main hospital sites, which have emergency departments as well, and others are in community-based health care centres.

Bethan Thomas, an Emergency Nurse Practitioner in the Minor Injuries Unit at Withybush General Hospital, said: “Part of my role frequently involves treating children and young people with minor injuries, and we can do this quite quickly in the emergency department at Withybush so that those patients can return home having been seen and given care.”

Children with serious illnesses or injuries will be seen at Glangwili General Hospital in Carmarthen or Bronglais General Hospital in Aberystwyth. In an emergency, please dial 999.

In the videos, which are available to view on the Health Board’s website, and on social media, Consultant Paediatrician Dr Didi Ratnasinghe also explains what parents need to be aware of and how to access care if their child has a respiratory illness, while fellow Paediatrician Dr Prem Kumar gives an insight into what to expect if your child needs to stay in hospital for treatment.

Emergency medicine Consultant Dr Nicola Drake provides an explanation of other childhood medical emergencies, and when parents need to call 999 for an ambulance to take a child to Glangwili or Bronglais.

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