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Health Board’s vaccination priorities questioned

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THE HEALTH BOARD has denied claims that the wait for Covid vaccinations has been ‘queue-jumped’ by Council employees and other non-front line workers.

On Thursday evening, a member of the public contacted The Herald via our Facebook page and asked us:

‘Can you please investigate and shine a light on the Pembrokeshire council employees, (some of whom are office staff who have been working from home since March, some are repair and maintenance guys.)

‘They have had phone calls to book and are booking appointments to have their vaccines done at the new vaccination centre in Haverfordwest at the records office run by the council. Some have been for jabs today and others have appointments for the weekend. They are definitely not in any of the first few priority groups and are taking vaccines away from those who need it more.”

When we put the issue to the local authority, Ros Jervis, Director of Public Health at Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “The decision was made this week to extend the vaccine invitation to staff groups critical to the COVID response, without which we would not be able to run essential COVID response services.

“Many of these staff are currently redeployed from frontline and patient facing roles and employed by the health board, social care services, independent or third sector care services and fall within the JCVI’s priority group 2.

“The invitation was only extended once we were absolutely certain frontline staff had been provided ample opportunity to receive a vaccine and once all stand-by reserve lists were exhausted. This approach has led us to having one of the lowest vaccine wastage figures, despite the challenges of our rural location.

“I’d like to reassure the public that vaccinating this essential group of staff has in no way delayed our rollout to the wider population and I can confirm the first invitations for members of the public to attend our mass vaccination centres will be issued this week.”

The Welsh Government’s strategy is to inoculate frontline staff and then Over 80s – that is its First Priority. Other people fall into different Priority Groups. With so many unvaccinated in the First Priority Group – over 80s – the question goes begging as to the basis upon which their claims to the vaccine were bypassed in favour of those in the Second Priority Group.

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb told us: “I am very concerned about the claims being made of vaccine queue jumping. From the explanation given by Hywel Dda University Health Board, it looks like the priority list drawn up by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has now been ripped up and lots of other people are being invited to get vaccinated who are not in the priority groups.

“The whole reason for the priority list, which was agreed to by all four Chief Medical Officers from across the UK, was to save the greatest number of lives by vaccinating the most vulnerable people first.

“I have consistently raised concerns about the slow rollout in Wales. We are not where we should be by now especially when it comes to vaccinating the over 80s. There is limited supply of vaccines and the Health Board should be using these for the most vulnerable people in our community. It’s important for building confidence in the roll-out that people can see there is a clear plan being followed. I’m afraid situations like this undermine that confidence.”

The Welsh Government faced increasing criticism this week about its management of Wales’ vaccine distribution. On Monday, there was outrage about the First Minister’s remarks on Wales’ strategy which the Welsh Government spent the next four days trying to stem.

On Tuesday, Vaughan Gething, Wales Health Minister, claimed that 70% of over 80s would receive their first vaccine dose by this weekend. On Wednesday evening, figures released by Public Health Wales showed less than a quarter of over 80s had got their first shot.

Mr Gething later claimed he’d made “an innocent mistake”, saying: “There was a minor amount of confusion about the difference between care home residents, where we had vaccinated a majority, and over 80s.”

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Fishguard RNLI launch to attend injured fisherman 13 miles offshore

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FISHGUARD’s RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat launched early on Monday (Jan 17), with a full volunteer crew, to rendezvous with an Irish scalloper fishing boat which had an injured crew member aboard. The 14-metre fishing boat ‘ Golden Fleece’ had requested assistance by making radio contact with HM Coastguard. 

The lifeboat launched at 7.30am in calm conditions and headed to the fishing boat positioned approximately 13 miles north of Cemaes Head. Once on location the injured fisherman, who had suffered a significant finger injury, was transferred to the lifeboat. No further medical assistance was necessary from the lifeboat crew but he was kept under observation during the return journey to Fishguard where he was transferred to an awaiting ambulance upon arrival at 8.30am.   

 

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Brains’ £100 million sell-off plan includes local pubs in Pembrokeshire

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SA BRAINs is close to completing a £100m deal which will see the sale of 100 Wales pubs, including Pembrokeshire locals, it has been reported.

It is reported that Wales most prominent brewers will sell the freeholds to 100 of it’s pubs to a consortium.

Brains currently has a portfolio of 200 pubs across Wales and the South West.

Sources within the pub industry said that the transaction could be signed in the next few days.

The deal is to be made with Song Capital and Cerberus Capital Management, the former owner of Admiral Taverns.

The deal, which is thought to be around the £100m mark, is expected to be used by the Brains’ family shareholders to pay down debt.

The hospitality sector has been hit severely by the Coronavirus pandemic, being forced to close for long periods at a time and then reopening with strict restrictions.

In 2020, Brains struck a deal with Marston’s to operate 141 of its pubs, under the Welsh brewers brand, following financial pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Six Pembrokeshire pubs are earmarked to be included in the transaction; The Ferry Inn, St Dogmaels, Crown Inn, Tenby, Grove Hotel, Narberth, Waterman’s Arms, Pembroke, Harbour Inn, Solva and The Galleon, Broad Haven.

The sale will see the Brains pub estate as a family-owned brewer with a small residual pub portfolio.

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St Clears’ McDonald’s opening delayed for a week

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McDonald's sign

THE OPENING of the new 100-seater McDonald’s in St Clears has been delayed by a week. 

The restaurant, which will be built along the main approach road to Pembrokeshire, aimed to open its doors on Wednesday, January 19. 

However, the company has confirmed that the opening has been postponed until Wednesday, January 26. 

The new McDonald’s will join Haverfordwest and Pembroke Dock McDonald’s as the only members of the company located west of Carmarthen. 

It hoped to provide over 80 full and part time jobs due to being open around the clock. They hosted a recruitment day in December 2021. 

The original applications had previously stated that the McDonald’s would be open 24 hours a day. A premises licence application is currently being made to the County Council for the “provision of late-night refreshments” which, if accepted, would allow the restaurant to be open 24 hours a day.

It will open on the opposite side of the road to Travelodge and Starbucks, which replaced the Little Chef restaurant in 2017.

The restaurant was initially going to include a separate building which would have accommodated a Costa Coffee. However, it will now host a Greggs. 

Alongside this, planning permission has been granted separately for a petrol station with six electric charging points.

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