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£7.5m renal unit used as meeting room.

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renalTHE PEMBROKESHIRE HERALD can reveal this week that serious concerns have been raised at flagship projects at Withybush Hospital. 

The newly built Renal unit, funded by a £7.5m grant and scheduled to open earlier this year, is currently being used as a conference centre. A spokesperson for the Local Health Board, which built the unit under a commission from The Welsh Renal Network, told the Herald: “The new renal unit is a major investment at Withybush Hospital and contains all the latest technology expected in a modern renal dialysis unit. We are actively working with the Welsh Renal Network to ensure a provider is appointed and renal patients can benefit from these facilities as soon as possible.” The Board announced in April that negotiations with The Welsh Renal Network, responsible for appointing renal service providers, were in final stages with the contract award expected by the end of May 2014. The Pembrokeshire Herald has been assured by a member of the Renal unit’s project board that the unit will open, but a date has not been given. There is also considerable disquiet that the Board intends to salami-slice cancer services away from Withybush to Carmarthen, an impression given some impetus by the Board’s failure to appoint a replacement for Dr Anne Barnes MBE. The Pembrokeshire Herald can report that the Health Board failed to advertise for a replacement for Doctor Barnes until very recently, despite knowing of her intention to leave in January. We also understand that other clinical staff have declined to “fill the gap” left by her departure, leaving the future of cancer care at Withybush under question. Peter Milewski, retired consultant surgeon, told the Herald: “Health Board middle management are only just beginning to get a sense of urgency about the situation despite the long notice they’ve had. So it sounds as though a process of muddling through is just beginning to gather momentum, hopefully maintaining the service as it is. “It’s absolutely typical of the wretched health board to drag their feet while services and waiting times get worse and worse. Apparently there is someone interesting in starting in September, but what will happen between now and then is anyone’s guess.” Lyn Neville, who works for Pembrokeshire Cancer Support, said: “They have done this before when the last consultant left and it’s left them in a hole. They’ve just handed the job to Anne and told her to get on with it. “I had a letter to say that Hywel Dda is experiencing extreme recruitment difficulties. They don’t make the vacancies particularly attractive and threats to services aren’t helping attract people to the county either. They’ve set up an Oncology review group which won’t report until the end of the year, even though Anne is leaving in July. Who is going to cover Oncology when she goes? “There are just two consultants for nearly 250,000 people; they’re in a really big hole. People are genuinely fearful about what is going to happen when Anne leaves and the Health Board has done nothing to ease those fears”. Considerable anger has been caused by the discovery that funds donated for specific health care projects in Pembrokeshire have been diverted to a consolidated central fund. It seems that the generosity of Pembrokeshire charities is being used to fund developments in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire in what is arguably a considerable breach of trust and confidence between the Board and local health care charities. It has been suggested by staff at Withybush that the new dialysis unit could be shared with the longpromised Cancer Day unit, which shows no sign of being planned other on a very vague basis and without firm commitment from the Board to its provision. The Herald understands that one charity is investigating its legal options in respect of money it has handed over to the Board towards the cost of providing a Cancer Day unit at Withybush Hospital. A spokesperson for the Health Board told us: “The university health board is totally committed to providing chemotherapy for patients in Pembrokeshire. We are currently undertaking a review of Oncology Services which about strengthening and modernising local services providing high quality, safe, effective treatment and care as close to patient’s home as possible. The CHC is participating in this review. “This process is not about reducing the service we offer but is about creating a more sustainable, high quality service. This may mean the way we deliver cancer services may change.” Paul Davies, AM for Preseli Pembrokeshire, said: “I have grown increasingly frustrated and angry with the delay in the opening of the new Renal unit at Withybush Hospital. To have a new building that appears to have been completed some time ago unused is a huge waste. “A number of constituents have contacted me to voice their concerns regarding this as understandably patients are very keen to use this new facility. “Pembrokeshire patients have in some cases had to continue to travel to Carmarthen for treatment, sometimes literally passing the new building that is lying idle. “I have raised this delay in the Senedd with the Minister for Health and Social Services, Mark Drakeford AM. “I have also contacted the Welsh Renal Clinical Network who are managing this scheme. Whilst I understand that the contract to build the unit is complex and includes work at Glangwili and Bronglais Hospitals, I question whether more could and should have been done to allow the new unit at Withybush Hospital to open far sooner.”

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Charity

Puffin Party fundraising initiative returns for another year

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THE Pembrokeshire Coast Charitable Trust is inviting people to host a Puffin Party this July, to celebrate the Trust’s 6th birthday and raise vital funds.

The Trust has raised more than £380,000 from a range of sources since 2018, including projects such as People, Paths & PollinatorsMake More Meadows and Wild About Woodlands.

It has also provided Force for Nature Grants to help community groups and local organisations boost biodiversity, act on climate change or educate others on these important topics.

Puffin Parties were added to the list of fundraising activities last summer, and proved so popular that they are being brought back for another year.

Director of the Pembrokeshire Coast Charitable Trust, Katie Macro, said: “We are delighted to see the return of the Puffin Parties. These events not only help us raise essential funds but also bring the community together in celebration of our beautiful natural environment.

“Once again, there’s plenty of inspiration on hand to get you started, including some party food recipe cards (with healthier options available), invitation templates and some ideas for party activities.

“We encourage everyone to get involved and help us celebrate by arranging a tea party, coffee morning or cake sale with friends, family, colleagues, or the local community during the month of July. As well as having fun, you’ll be making a difference in protecting our stunning coastline and safeguarding it for future generations.”

The celebratory resources, including invitation templates, new recipe cards, and craft activity templates and instructions are available for download at https://pembrokeshirecoasttrust.wales/how-you-can-help/puffinparty.

To find out more, register your interest and access the special celebratory visit www.pembrokeshirecoasttrust.wales.

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Business

RWE launches pre-application consultation for RWE Pembroke Battery

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TO support their decarbonisation ambitions as part of Pembroke Net Zero Centre, RWE is progressing proposals to develop a battery energy storage system on its land adjacent to Pembroke Power Station. 

Battery energy storage plays a crucial role in the integration of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, into the power grid, excess renewable energy can be stored and fed into the grid when needed. Electricity is consumed in real time and this technology will, where possible, enable homes and businesses to be powered by renewable energy.  

The consultation on RWE’s plans launches Monday 17 June 2024 and will end on Monday 15 July 2024. RWE is asking the community for their views on these plans and has launched a consultation where local people can provide feedback on the planning application. 

The proposed development would be located on a 5.1 hectare area to the south of the current power station and would comprise 212 Battery Containers, 106 Power Conversion Systems (PCS) enabling connectivity to the grid, and associated infrastructure. 

The battery would have a maximum charge / discharge power of 350 megawatts and would connect via underground cables to the grid at the adjacent National Grid 400 kV substation. Once fully operational, Pembroke Battery would be capable of storing enough electricity to meet the average daily domestic energy needs of more than 72,0001 typical UK homes. 

In line with RWE’s commitment to protect and enhance local environments, the company has pledged to deliver various biodiversity measures as part of the proposals. Field margins will be enhanced by species-rich meadow planting, native woodland and scrub planting, while a new large pond will be provided and managed to support local wildlife. The periphery of the development site will also be further enhanced with bat and bird boxes, insect hotels and reptile hibernation shelters around the field edges. A Habitat Management Plan will ensure the habitats created are managed sensitively in support of local wildlife for the lifetime of the project.

Commenting on the proposals, Richard Little, Pembroke Net Zero Centre Director, said: “RWE Pembroke Battery represents the next step in our plans to invest in new innovative energy technologies, as part of our vision for Pembroke Net Zero Centre. We would like to thank those who engaged with us in our Green Hydrogen consultation and encourage the community to get involved with the consultation process, learn more about our battery energy storage proposals, and have their say on the proposals.” 

Members of the community can contact the project team and leave feedback via the project website rwe.pembrokenetzerocentre.co.uk/battery, telephone 01646 370090, email [email protected] or by writing to ’Freepost PNZC Consultation’.  

Local people can also join RWE at an in-person event at South Pembrokeshire Golf Club on 24th June 2024 between 2pm and 7pm to speak with project team members, ask questions and provide feedback. 

Pembroke Net Zero Centre has a critical role to play in Wales’ and the UK’s pathway to Net Zero. By decarbonising its current operations at Pembroke Power Station, while investing in new innovative technologies, such as battery energy storage and hydrogen generation, RWE can establish Pembroke at the forefront of South Wales’ low carbon future.

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Charity

Megan’s Starr foundation launches Bottle Top Collection Appeal

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THE Megan’s Starr Foundation, a charity dedicated to supporting young people’s mental health and combating bullying, has recently launched an innovative recycling initiative and is calling on the community for help. The Milford Haven-based foundation is asking for donations of old bottle tops, both metal and plastic, to be dropped off at the Megan’s Starr Community Coffee House in Milford Haven.

This appeal is part of the foundation’s ongoing efforts to support mental health and community engagement through creative and sustainable projects. Bottle tops collected will be used in various community art projects and workshops, aimed at fostering a sense of togetherness and promoting mental wellbeing.

The Megan’s Starr Foundation was established in memory of Megan Evans, a vibrant 14-year-old who tragically took her own life after enduring severe bullying. Her mother, Nicola Harteveld, founded the charity to prevent other families from experiencing similar heartbreak and to provide much-needed mental health support to young people in Pembrokeshire.

In addition to their recycling efforts, the foundation offers a wide range of services including counselling, educational workshops, and support groups. They also run the Speakeasy Coffee Van, a mobile unit that brings support directly to young people in rural areas, offering barista training and mental health resources.

To contribute to the bottle top collection, community members can drop off their donations at the coffee house or arrange for a volunteer to collect them. The foundation expressed their gratitude for the community’s continued support, emphasising that even small acts of kindness can have a significant impact.

For more information on how to get involved or to learn about the foundation’s other initiatives, visit their website at Megan’s Starr Foundation.

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