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Crisis? What crisis?

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nhssaveTHE HERALD can reveal that in recent days, expectant mums expecting to deliver their babies at West Wales General Hospital, Glangwili, were turned away and sent to Withybush Hospital instead. A shortage of maternity beds meant that patients could not be admitted at the Carmarthen Hospital. 

• As SCBU cut looms, Glangwili can’t cope

• Transport plans questioned

In addition, the Herald understands that four C-sections, two elective and two emergency, were recently performed at Withybush within one twentyfour hour period. In the case of the emergency C-sections, Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford’s purported “safety net” would have been of no use at all in keeping mums and babies safe. The Herald has been told that such was the shortage of SCBU spaces in the Local Health Board area that a baby from Carmarthen requiring special care had to be transported to North Wales to receive appropriate treatment, while another mum had to be transported to Bridgend to have her baby delivered. We spoke to Peter Milewski, retired consultant surgeon and health campaigner: “As a result of the service cuts, I dread to think what is going to happen if the Withybush SCBU is closed in August. The Board will probably find that it’s full and there’s nowhere for the babies to go, so it won’t be able to close it (or relocate the staff that run it). “For many years, significant numbers of Grade 1 or 2 Caesarean sections have taken place each week at Withybush. Grade 1 or 2 means 15 minute urgency so obviously wouldn’t reach Carmarthen. Some of them occur out of the blue in low-risk multiparous women of exactly the type who would be considered (by the health board, not by me!) suitable for an isolated midwifery unit. “These are the women who will lose their babies, and, occasionally, their lives. “On top of that, there are the women who develop their complication at home and will be supposed to be taken to Carmarthen. That can never be eradicated. It’s clear that some will not make it, whereas they would have to Withybush. “It is common for babies to be shifted in various directions between SCBUs. For example Swansea may be full and transfer their babies to Withybush (I’ve seen that happen myself, and it’s not an isolated incident). Again, what’s going to happen to them?” Another confidential source working in the Health Board has confirmed that in 2012 there were 60 Grade 1 (immediate) or Grade 2 (within half an hour) emergency Caesarean sections. That’s at least one expectant mum and baby each week who would not make it to Carmarthen. There were 120 less urgent C-sections. Even some of those may not have made it to Carmarthen. While under the new arrangements, some of those 60 will have been recognized as high risk and sent to Carmarthen, ostensibly low risk and unpredictable patients would not have been sent there. There is no indication that that 2012 was different from any other year. We asked Peter Milewski about the figures and he told us: “It certainly accords with my impression when I was working. When I was in theatre it was not uncommon for me to have to postpone a case to make way for an emergency Caesarean Section.” Patient transport, a major issue which is yet to be resolved has also been thrown into sharp relief with the revelation that expectant mums cannot be transported by Air Ambulance in an emergency. David Williams, from Pembrokeshire Health Concern said: “It has always been the case that women in labour or likely to go into labour cannot be transported by air ambulance for lack of room, equipment and expertise. “Patients are loaded feet towards the tail of helicopter so no room to work at business end and currently helicopter staff are not allowed to go below waist. The Health Board – apparently – did not know this. When challenged it said the Board would get bigger helicopter. However, due to the new A & E, dialysis unit and car park changes nothing bigger than current helicopter can land at Withybush, anyway. To use a larger helicopter, the Board would either have to build bigger helipad or land at Withybush airport and have patients transferred to that location by road ambulance, assuming one is available. “When it comes to emergency consultant cover, the Welsh Government has said that it is not how far away a consultant can live from the relevant site but the time taken to be able to return for emergency work purposes. It is for local employers to consider service needs and establish local limits. “The Deanery requirement for full A & E cover, which is required to meet the out-of-hours paediatric plan, is that the consultants are to be within 20 minutes of hospital 24/7. Therefore transferring to Glangwili, which is minimum of 45 minutes away, means A & E cover will be lacking. “The Health Board may try to say all consultants will have to live around Whitland (!), but as the Board claims to have a recruitment problem (disputed and shown to be contrived). So, telling consultants where to live will not making recruitment easier. “How many are you going to need to keep on call 24/7, as those on duty at Glangwili will be more than twenty minutes away from of Withybush and those off duty surely cannot be on call 24/7 – and that’s without factoring in staff sickness, absence, or holiday cover. A Health Board spokesperson told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “I can confirm that nobody was transferred to another Health Board due to capacity issues. “We would like to reassure the public when our obstetric services is on one site there will be no reduction in beds. Locating our obstetric services on one site is only part of the service modernisation of our maternity services. “In addition to the obstetric service there will be a midwifery led unit on both the Glangwili Hospital and Withybush Hospital sites.”

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Judith Rhead murder investigation – Detectives given more time to question suspect

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POLICE have been given more time to question a 43-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder.

The man has been in police custody since Saturday night, after being arrested over the death 68-year-old Judith Rhead.

She was found in a residential property in Market Street.

The police now have until Thursday afternoon (Feb 25) to question the suspect.

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All people eligible for vaccination will get theirs by end of July

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PEOPLE eligible for the coronavirus vaccine will get theirs by the end of July, the Health Minister has said.

Wales achieved its target of getting everyone in the first four priority groups vaccinated by the middle of February and is now working on offering the vaccine to those in groups 5 to 9.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has set out that people with severe or profound learning disabilities or with a mental illness will be among priority group 6.

Mr Gething said that they were would make sure that no one is left behind.

The latest figures from Public Health Wales show that 878,506 people had received their first dose of the vaccine.

59,279 people have received both doses of the vaccine.

Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services, said: “We have achieved our first milestone of offering everyone in the first four priority groups vaccination by mid-February.

“We are now making progress in achieving our next milestone, which is to offer the vaccine to all individuals in priority groups 5 to 9.

“The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has set out that people with a severe/profound learning disability and individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, or any mental illness that causes severe functional impairment, should be invited for vaccination as part of priority group 6.

“There are challenges with identifying individuals within these groups, particularly given the JCVI language is not generally in use in Wales, and we are working hard to make sure that no one is left behind. Today we have published guidance on identifying eligible individuals in these groups and on how to support them to take up their vaccine offers.

“The JCVI has also said that some of our invaluable unpaid carers should be included in priority group 6.

“Today we have also published guidance on identifying those unpaid carers eligible for vaccine prioritisation and the process around this. I am grateful to the national carers’ organisations for their support with this work.”

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Council want your help to keep Pembrokeshire active

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL is asking residents to give their views on local walking and cycling routes.

The Council aims to make journeys on foot and by bicycle easier, safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

In order to design a network that works for all, the Council would like to get the views of as many people as possible, particularly those who don’t currently walk or cycle. This will help ensure the routes built for walking and cycling work for the whole community.

The consultation focuses on the main towns and villages in Pembrokeshire which have been selected by Welsh Government as the designated localities in the County. These are:

  • Fishguard & Goodwick
  • Haverfordwest
  • Johnston
  • Milford Haven
  • Neyland
  • Pembroke Dock
  • Pembroke
  • Tenby
  • Saundersfoot
  • Narberth

Pembrokeshire Council is currently undertaking an Active Travel Network Map consultation (ATNM) which will run in 3 stages

Consultation 1: Residents can take part in the consultation exercise online, hosted by Commonplace at https://Pembrokeshire.commonplace.is/

The interactive map allows participants to flag issues, problems and successes on a plan of the active travel settlement and add comments. Such points could be for example, a pavement that is too narrow or a newly built cycle route that is regarded as a success.

The first stage of the consultation will close on 31 st March 2021.

Consultation 2: Following this, the second step of the consultation will see the Council share the initial findings and ask people what they think of the plans
proposed as a result of the feedback received.

Consultation 3: The third stage of the consultation will give members of the public a final say on the Active Travel Network Maps before they are sent to Welsh Government for approval. These maps will have been produced taking into account public feedback and ideas from consultations 1 and 2.

By upgrading facilities and creating new walking and cycling routes, the Council plans to make Active Travel the popular choice for local journeys, to increase the attractiveness of local communities as places to live and work, improve health and well-being, and help tackle air pollution.

Cllr Phil Baker, Pembrokeshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, said: “This consultation exercise will produce an Active Travel Network Map which will be a plan of routes the Council will use to inform where improvements to walking and cycling should be made in Pembrokeshire.

“It will help to make journeys on foot or by bicycle easier and safer for everyone, particularly those who don’t currently walk or cycle often and people who use mobility aids and will build on the increased level of walking and cycling that we have seen over the last 12 months during the pandemic.”

See more information on Active Travel at: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/fitness-and-well-being/active-travel

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