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Listen to us or ‘kids will die’

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swatTHE SAVE WITHYBUSHT ACTION  TEAM (SWAT) descended on Cardiff in full force this week in the continued campaign to save our fantastic local hospital. 

Ten coaches and over a 1000 people arrived at the Senedd in our capital city on a gloriously sun drenched summer’s day. The desperate fight to keep essential services and funding at Withybush Hospital has been further accentuated after figures last week from The Nuffield Trust predicted demand on the NHS will outstrip the money it receives by 2025, and that the NHS in Wales is facing a £2.5bn funding gap over the next 10 years. In the short term, the Nuffield Trust said the NHS faced a challenging funding gap of £200 million in just the next two years. On board the coaches were many residents of Pembrokeshire who have had direct experience of how the hospital has helped them, and featured in their lives, and there were many parents of children travelling to Cardiff that demanded their voice be heard. One of the protesters was a Pembrokeshire mother who lost more than half her blood when the birth of her daughter went terribly wrong. Emily Holden thought she would never see her family again as Withybush doctors raced to save her life. She explained how she had ‘pushed’ when she shouldn’t have which resulted in severe bleeding, losing two and a half litres of blood in the process. Her Husband Christian was left holding the newborn baby as his wife faced potential death. She explained how she felt as all this was going on: “At that time I calmed down and accepted I was going to go. I was becoming more non-responsive. I was aware things were bad but I was slowing down and I had gone grey”. Emily ‘was fading away’ but Withybush and its facilities, medics and staff saved her life. At the protest, Ruth Howells, a retired consultant gynaecologist who worked at Withybush Hospital, addressed the crowd about the problems with the Health Board’s plans, saying: “I’m worried about the journey times in an emergency. No one is even talking about the extra travel costs for the patients and their f a m i l i e s . It is a disastrous move to c l o s e Withybush services. I can’t understand how the people who have made these plans can countenance between a 1 and 2 hour journey time for people who may be in dire emergencies.”

A DOCTOR’S VIEW 

Local Paediatrician, Gustavo Falco, said: “We need a 24 hour paediatric service in Pembrokeshire because of the geography. Travelling is difficult, especially in an emergency from the western coast to Carmarthen. It’s not on. If a child has a cardiac arrest there is no way that child is going to be alive by the time they get to Carmarthen.”

POLITICIANS SUPPORT THE PROTEST 

Liberal Democrat, Eluned Parrott AM, told the protesters and reporters that the lack of ambulances in Wales is ‘disgusting’, and ‘it’s an issue that affects everyone in Wales’. Simon Hart, MP for Pembrokeshire South, told The Herald that he had seen the pictures of the protest online and said it was a ‘great effort by Pembrokeshire people to unite and have their voices heard’. He went on to question Mark Drakeford’s tenure, saying ‘he must be thick skinned not to question his own judgement on this issue, and are thousands of Pembrokeshire people wrong and just one Minister only is right?’ He further suggested that Mr Drakeford’s own party did not really support him on this issue and that the Minister should take a good look in the mirror and try and convince himself that it is ‘ok’. This viewpoint seemed to be supported by Delyth Evans, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for South Pembrokeshire, who told The Herald: “After today’s demonstration there can be no doubt in the minds of the Welsh Government about the strength of feeling in Pembrokeshire about the proposed changes at Withybush. There is only one way to alleviate people’s legitimate concerns about the future of their local health services. The Minister must make an unequivocal statement that no changes will be implemented until adequate emergency transport is in place, and that there will be no further reduction in essential services at Withybush, whatsoever. We cannot accept a gradual reduction of our local health service by stealth. There has to be a commitment to maintain a fully functioning hospital for the people of Pembrokeshire.” Another Labour politician, Derek Vaughan MEP, refused to comment saying it was a matter for the Welsh Government Minister. However, Labour AM for Mid and West Wales, Rebecca Evans stated: “To have such a big turn-out at the Senedd shows just how passionately people in Pembrokeshire care about their hospital. That message came over loud and clear. Everyone is agreed that the over-riding concern has to be about the safety and sustainability of health services. Whilst we cannot ignore the requirement of the Wales Deanery and the Royal Colleges, I have been clear all along that there must be no change until the ‘safety net’ is fully in place – including the provisions to address the significant transport challenges.” Paul Miller, Parliamentary candidate for Preseli Pembrokeshire, made his position clear in relation to The Welsh Minister, saying to The Herald: “The people of Pembrokeshire showed on Wednesday just how strongly they feel here about the proposed changes to our hospital. People are rightly concerned that because of our geography they will not be able to access centralised services in an emergency and the Minister must pledge today, not to allow Hywel Dda to implement any changes whatever, unless he is 100% satisfied that adequate emergency transport is available. While I do accept, that in some instances patient outcomes can be improved when services are centralised, local hospitals will always remain the first port of call in an Emergency. We cannot accept a gradual reduction of our local services by stealth and Withybush Hospital must always remain a fully functioning District General Hospital. I have made clear to the Minister, on both occasions when we have met this year, that I will vigorously oppose any moves which reduce the current, 24/7 A&E cover at Withybush General Hospital and I will never accept that any less than a 24 hour service is safe for the residents of Pembrokeshire”.

QUESTIONS TO THE HEALTH MINISTER  

The Herald asked Mark Drakeford, Health Minister, and his office for a comment regarding the protest to which they simply responded by saying: “We have no comment – it is a matter for the Health Board.” However, a statement was released by the Minister to the protesting crowd which read: “Firstly, let me make it clear that provision of high quality safe maternity services in Wales is a priority for the Welsh Government. The strategic vision for maternity services in Wales published September 2011 states the foundations for health and well being start in pregnancy. The months before and after birth are crucial to the life chances of the mother. We know the health and happiness of future generations can be enhanced with the provision of high quality maternity services and pregnancy is a powerful motivator for change. Pregnancy impacts on health and well being on individuals and communities. It is vitally important that efforts to ensure mother and child are safe and healthy well before birth. The strategic vision sets out the results we want for women and their babies through pregnancy and childbirth as well as our expectations of NHS Wales in delivering maternity services that make a real difference to families in Wales. For every mother wherever they live and in whatever circumstances, pregnancy and childbirth will be a safe and positive experience so a family can begin parenting feeling confident, capable and well supported of giving their child a secure start in life. Continuous improvements are being made to maternity services.” Local Assembly Member Paul Davies joined the crowds outside the Senedd to voice concerns over threats to services at Withybush hospital. He said: “Once again, the people of Pembrokeshire have come to the Assembly to send their message loud and clear. We in Pembrokeshire already have to travel further afield for specialist treatment; forcing us to travel further afield for lifesaving care and emergency services, will put lives at risk. I’m appalled that the Welsh Government and the local health board have decided to proceed with these catastrophic plans. I’m pleased that so many people made the trip to Cardiff – showing that we will not go down without a fight. I’m thankful that they have taken the time to travel down from Pembrokeshire. For my part, I will keep raising this issue in the Assembly Chamber with the Minister at every opportunity and I will continue to lobby to reverse these decisions. The message is clear: Services at Withybush hospital must stay put!”

SWAT ORGANISER SPEAKS OUT 

Chris Overton, a consultant at Withybush and leading the SWAT protest, was asked about how the protest could make a difference: “We have just got to keep trying. There is no point just sitting back and letting them make these disastrous services changes. We need to have the services they are trying to take away, kept in Pembrokeshire because otherwise people will die. From the 6th August there will be no difficult deliveries (at Withybush). So instead of 1300 deliveries there will be 100. 1200 will have to go to Llangwilly. There are significant problems getting there quickly and lives are at risk, particularly small babies.” He was challenged with the Health Minister’s assertion that services have to be centralised, to which he responded, “We don’t disagree and we think services should be centralised in Withybush, because it makes perfect sense. You have to take everything in the round. You have to include the ABMU Health Board as well, and the three logical centres would be, Morriston South, Bronglais and Withybush. The protest ends today, then there is the judicial review next week and we are very hopeful. we have a very good chance, good witness statements, a good argument and we are hoping we are going to win.” On the subject of centralisation, Mark Drakeford’s view seems to be diametrically opposed to that of NHS England Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, who has said that the NHS must ‘end mass centralisation and instead expand its local services to treat people in their own communities’. Liberal Democrat Eluned Parrott AM told the crowd about the lack of ambulances available; stating that it’s an issue that is affecting everyone in Pembrokeshire. She made clear that this was, ‘politically driven and NOT clinically driven.’ Pembrokeshire Councillor David Lloyd addressed the crowd and spoke gravely of the collapse of the Cleddau Bridge in 1970, which killed four workmen, reminding the protesters that in fact there was no hospital within Pembrokeshire and therefore any victims had to be driven to Carmarthen. He continued by saying that the coroner who dealt with the workmen’s death stated that carrying critical ill people long distances had resulted in deaths.

MATERNITY ‘A HIGH PRIORITY’ SAYS WAG 

A statement was released, at the protest, from the Welsh Government who said: “Maternity is a high priority within the Welsh Government. Continuous improvements are being made to maternity services within Pembrokeshire’. This was met with derision from the crowd who began to chant ‘Shame’, and, ‘Drakeford out!’ William Powell, Regional Minister, continued to address the crowd, claiming that the Welsh Government are in fact looking into the judicial review and that he is personally dealing with it. He argued that, ‘Clinical safety is the key!’ Pembrokeshire Alliance leader, Bob Kilmister, told The Herald: “The Pembrokeshire Alliance fully supports the protestors who went to the Senedd today to protest over the proposed service cuts at Withybush hospital. I hope Welsh Government takes notice of the massive concern shown by the people of Pembrokeshire about these cuts to our health service. It is extremely disappointing that the Health Minister refused to talk to SWAT representatives and I deplore this kind of arrogance. Politicians should front up and face the public and not hide away in meetings.”

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Public engagement exercise over new hospital between St Clears and Narberth

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HYWEL DDA is asking the people of Pembrokeshire to help it further shape and deliver future services by taking part in a six-week engagement exercise.

Since the publication of its strategy, A Healthier Mid and West Wales: Our Future Generations Living Well in 2018, the health board has worked with partners to provide care and develop services. However, the coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on health and care services. As a result, the health board now wants to learn from the public about how the pandemic has affected their health and care, and access to it.

This week, Hywel Dda UHB has been distributing a discussion document for the public to consider, along with a questionnaire for completion.

Hywel Dda UHB is also asking for the public’s feedback in relation to its long-term strategy to develop and build a new hospital in the south of the Hywel Dda area, somewhere between and including St Clears, in Carmarthenshire, and Narberth, in Pembrokeshire.

This location is the most central for most of the population in the south of the Hywel Dda area, and it was determined through the public consultation held in 2018.

The public is also being asked to nominate sites for a new hospital based four criteria:

The nominated site must be within the zone between and including St Clears in Carmarthenshire and Narberth in Pembrokeshire. This location is the most central to most of the population in the south of the Hywel Dda area.

The nominated site should be a minimum of 35 acres of reasonably developable land.

The nominated site should have realistic prospects of obtaining planning permission for a new hospital.

There should be appropriate transport infrastructure for a major hospital site.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “The global pandemic has had a major impact on all areas of our lives so it’s crucial that the health board considers, reflects and learns from this extraordinary period. This engagement exercise will allow the public to tell us in their own words how COVID-19 has affected their health and care, and access to it.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to participate because the feedback we receive will play a major role in helping shape future services. This in turn will allow us to deliver on our long-term commitment for a healthier mid and west Wales.

“I would also stress that this engagement exercise is part of an ongoing process. Over the coming months and years, we plan to engage with the public, stakeholders and partners on a wide variety of issues, such as service models. Everyone will have their chance to give their views and opinions because we are committed to continuous engagement with the public to ensure we provide the best possible care.”

The engagement exercise will run until Monday June 21.

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Paul Sartori taking action to support climate with National Lottery grant of nearly £14,000

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LOCAL hospice at home charity, Paul Sartori Hospice at Home, is taking action to support the climate with the installation of solar panels at its main head office in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.

The charity which delivers end of life care services across Pembrokeshire, has been awarded a grant to fund the purchase and installation of solar panels at Paul Sartori House, Winch Lane. This investment is part of an ongoing commitment to address the climate emergency and the charity joins many others who are taking action. Paul Sartori was one of 35 community groups, who were selected to take part in the Climate Action Boost scheme, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.

Working alongside Renew Wales, a partner in the initiative, the group explored methods to help tackle the causes and consequences of climate change, and to operate more sustainably. A number of options were discussed to reduce their impact on the environment and Renew Wales helped the charity to develop an environmental action plan, which is to be implemented over the coming months. The scheme available to cover a variety of environmental reduction activities, including renewable energy, reducing consumption, local food and reduced or less impactful travel.

Paul Sartori Hospice at Home wouldn’t normally be associated with environmental activity. Through regular consultation over many months, the charity has been really encouraged by what they have learnt.

“We have invested a lot of time in developing the plan; discussed a number of alternatives along the way, but feel that the solar panel installation will have the biggest impact for the charity in the long term”, said Sandra Dade, Charity Manager. “The National Lottery Climate Action Boost has really inspired our charity to minimise our impacton the environment and we will continue this journey,” added Sandra.

Jemma Nurse, Funding Manager at The National Lottery Community Fund said, “The climate emergency is everyone’s business, which is why The National Lottery Community Fund is acting to support and inspire communities to minimise their own impact on the environment. We are proud to be a significant funder of environmental projects and Paul Sartori Hospice at Home, along with the other groups participating in Climate Action Boost, will play a valuable part in building our knowledge so we can share our learning with other funders across Wales and the UK.”

The services provided by the Paul Sartori Hospice at Home enable people in the later stages of any life-limiting illness to be cared for and to die at home with dignity, independence, pain free and surrounded by those they hold most dear, if that is their wish.

All of the services are free of charge, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, thanks to the generosity of the Pembrokeshire Community. Further information on the charity and its services can be obtained by visiting their website www.paulsartori.org, or by phoning 01437 763223.

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New nursing service to support carers of people living with dementia

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HYWEL DDA UNIVERSITY HEALTH BOARD, in partnership with Dementia UK, is launching a new nursing service to support carers of people living with dementia.

The Admiral Nurse service will be a significant addition to the current support available to people living with dementia and their carers. The initiative is in line with the Dementia Action Plan for Wales 2018-2022, a Welsh Government strategy that aims to recognise the rights of people with dementia, make them feel valued, and help them live as independently as possible in their communities.

The team will cover Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire with a focus on delivering person–centred and relationship-centred dementia care. The Admiral Nurses will work collaboratively in a family-centric manner, across health and social care pathways, to provide support, expert guidance & practical solutions to enable families/carers, including the person living with dementia, to maximise their wellbeing and improve the experience of those affected by dementia.

Dementia UK is the only charity in the UK dedicated to supporting families affected by dementia through dementia specialist Admiral Nurses.  When things get challenging or difficult for people with dementia and their families, Admiral Nurses work alongside them, giving the compassionate one-to-one support, expert guidance and practical solutions that can be difficult to find elsewhere. They are a lifeline, helping families to live more positively with dementia in the present, and to face the challenges of tomorrow with more confidence and less fear.  

The service launched on 29th March 2021 and is now accepting referrals.

Charlotte Duhig, Admiral Nurse Clinical Lead, said: “I am honoured to be leading this new service to support carers and families of people living with dementia across the counties served by Hywel Dda University Health Board. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an incredibly challenging time for people living with dementia and their carers but I’m confident that this much-needed service will make a difference to the lives of those affected by dementia.

“Having previously set up an Admiral Nurse Service, I know the benefit of working as an Admiral Nurse as families can get the emotional and practical support to allow them to plan for the future. Health and social care professionals can also take advantage of our in-depth knowledge of dementia.”

Dr Hilda Hayo, CEO and Chief Admiral Nurse at Dementia UK, says: “We are delighted to announce this new Admiral Nurse service in partnership with Hywel Dda University Health Board. The fact that this service extends to a large rural area within West Wales, with the support of two Welsh-speaking Admiral Nurses, means that we are improving access to dementia specialist support for families.”            

To be able to access this service, the following referral criteria applies:

  • The person being supported/cared for by the carer has a diagnosis (or likely diagnosis) of dementia.
  • The person with dementia and/or carer lives in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion or Pembrokeshire (or is registered with a GP in those areas).
  • The carer agrees to their referral to the Admiral Nurse
  • The carer should have identified need(s) that impact upon their caring role or as a consequence of their caring role*

If you are a health or social care professional or 3rd sector working with someone you believe this service could benefit, or you are a carer of someone living with dementia and would like to be referred to the service, please contact a health or social care professional who can refer you. 

For further information, contact the nursing team direct:

Clinical Lead: Charlotte.Duhig@wales.nhs.uk

Admiral NurseContact detailsLocality covered
Bethan BulmanBethan.Bulman@wales.nhs.ukCeredigion North
Donna Phillips Ceredigion South
Emma VenablesEmma.Venables@wales.nhs.ukPembrokeshire North
Rosie BellRosie.Bell@wales.nhs.ukPembrokeshire South
Siriol DyerSiriol.Dyer2@wales.nhs.ukCarmarthenshire (3Ts)
Liz WrightElizabeth.Wright@wales.nhs.ukCarmarthenshire (Amman Gwendraeth)
Donna OwensDonna.Owens2@wales.nhs.ukCarmarthenshire (Llanelli)
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