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Drakeford: ‘doesn’t listen, doesn’t read’

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withybushWHILE protestors outside the Senedd called for him to address them face-to-face, Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford hid behind a statement consisting of bland and complacent reassurance. The crowd called his name and cried “shame” as the former social policy academic remained inside the building. Accused of not listening to protestors and ignoring their concerns, further evidence of the Minister’s tangential grip on his brief emerged following the publication of a letter to Rebecca Evans AM for Mid and West Wales dated June 15. Rebecca Evans had drawn the Minister’s attention to Dr Martin Simmonds’ open letter to the Health Board, which slammed the Board’s plans for scrapping paediatric care at Withybush Hospital and replacing it with a lick and promise. The closing part of Professor Drakeford’s letter has caused some surprise among Withybush staff at the sharp end of the Board’s decision to slash services in Pembrokeshire. Staff have been told to relocate or else leave, with no prospect of redundancy pay if they refuse to uproot themselves and their family to work at Carmarthen. Putting it in terms that Mark Drakeford will perhaps understand, the Health Board will centralize key services at a location as remote from Pembrokeshire’s western Coast as Brecon is from his home in Pontcanna. In relation to Paediatric care, Dr Simmonds’ letter read in part [emphases added]: “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 has produced research indicating that the risk assessment for a PAU here indicates that it is neither SAFE nor resilient enough to serve the needs of the local population this remote from the hub Paediatric inpatient base.” Apparently, Mark Drakeford read Dr Simmonds’ words differently. He notes that “the Health Board will CONSIDER DELAYING implementation of the paediatric component of change to ensure the maintenance of safe services.” The response appears to indicate that, contrary to the Health Board’s repeated claims, the proposed changes are far from being “clinician-led” Note, please, the conditional expression. It is the same as that which accompanied the original conditional pledge to maintain paediatric services at Withybush in January 2013. Events have shown the true value of those words. The CHC were duped by the Board’s reassurance. If they had not been, events would have been very different. Stripped of the pretence of their changes being clinician-led, the Board’s plan to downgrade Withybush would have been laid bare for all to see. That observation rather gives the lie to another bland statement made by Mark Drakeford in his letter to Rebecca Evans: “I am advised that paediatricians support [the changes to neonatal or maternity services].” Quite how Mark Drakeford squares his assertion on the change to neonatal and maternity care with the outrage felt by clinicians at Withybush that their concerns were swept under the carpet by the Board; or worse, as Dr Simmonds suggests, the Board kept asking clinical staff questions and harassing them until it got the answers it wanted. “Please be assured that Dr Simmonds’ comments have been noted by myself and the Health Board. There is no intention to implement a service which is not supported by clinical advice or presents a material risk to patients’ health.” Quite how Mark Drakeford squares the content of his last sentence with the categorical content of Dr Simmonds’ letter is not made clear. Whether Mark Drakeford read Dr Simmonds letter or merely “noted” it, his reply to Rebecca Evans demonstrates that he has not understood it. If Mark Drakeford is unaware of the catastrophic effect on Pembrokeshire of what the Health Board is up to, it is because he and the Welsh Government are wilfully turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the obvious.

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

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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 Herald reporter 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, Callum Hicks 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 scenr

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

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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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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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