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Ambulance service: 3 months to improve

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ambulance“VERY DISAPPOINTING”. That was the Welsh Government’s uncharacteristically understated response to the news that the Wales Ambulance Service’s performance had declined yet again. 

The figures show that 50.8% of ambulances in Pembrokeshire arrived at the scene of an immediate life-threatening Category A call within 8 minutes. The target is 65%. Neighbouring counties of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire achieved better figures of 53.3% and 51.9% respectively, and the average for the whole of Wales was 54.1%. While Health Minister Mark Drakeford said that he expected month on month improvement. He failed to set out what steps – if any – he will take if the Ambulance Service continues to fail. Commenting on the figures, Paul Davies AM said “It beggars belief that the Local Health Board and the Welsh Labour Government continue to steam roller through with their unpopular and illconceived changes to our hospital services. It’s clear that at present the ambulance service is under great pressure, and these proposed changes to our health services will mean that patients will have to travel further for treatment, and put even more pressure on our hard working ambulance personnel.” He added “I would like to pay tribute to the dedication of our local paramedics who are being put in an impossible situation. Travelling further to get medical help will only make matters worse and once again I would urge the Local Health Board and Welsh Labour Government to stop their reckless assault on services at Withybush Hospital.” Plaid Cymru health spokeswoman Elin Jones said: “It is clear that the government has failed to deliver the improvements that are needed.” The Local Health Board has repeatedly told Pembrokeshire residents that the Ambulance Service will be able to fulfil the needs of patients in the County as its plans to slash services at Withybush proceed. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the Board has claimed that: “Concerns which were raised predominantly related to transport mainly the safety of women in labour and neonates in transit between units in an emergency situation. Discussions continue to take place with Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust (WAST) and other bodies with a view to establishing mechanisms to resolve these concerns.” The Ambulance Service’s appalling performance figures and the fact that “discussions” are continuing with only a few weeks to go before the Board cuts services at Withybush is one indication that those concerns will not be resolved before the end of July.

PARAMEDIC Colin Picton has written to health minister Mark Drakeford. We have reprinted the letter in full here. 

MR DRAKEFORD, 

I’m writing to you, not that you’re going to take much notice to this email, as you and your band of merry men have come to your conclusions already, about removing vital resources and services from our fantastic hospital, at Withybush in Haverfordwest. I would like you to answer for me, how have you come to this decision, and on what evidence your decision has been made? Do you think it’s acceptable that lives will be lost? Do you think it’s acceptable for vulnerable people to travel such a distance to receive the care they deserve? I have three healthy children and one of them was born prematurely and we used the SCUBU at Withybush, and must say the staff there were amazing, hard-working and dedicated, and I couldn’t have imagined travelling long distances to receive this care elsewhere. As a Paramedic, let me draw some interesting facts to your attention that all my other colleagues want to say, so I will speak on their behalf: • Pembrokeshire at present has 5 ambulances available 24/7 unless Welsh Ambulance are saving money (which does happen) and due to sickness some stations go without cover reducing this to 4, sometimes 3 available vehicles. • Geographically we have one of the most rural areas in Wales. Our 8 minute response times are hardly met now as it is and we are desperate for MORE resources. • Milford Haven alone is the second most populated town in west wales next to Llanelli, and this is only getting bigger, due to additional housing being built to cope with the growing population. • We have on our doorstep one of the busiest ports in the UK and Two refinery’s two LNG plants and a power station. What would happen if there was a major incident? Where would the cover arrive from? How long will it take for them to receive the specialist care they need? How many people will die in the meantime? I have been sat outside A&E for hours at a time waiting to off load, along with sometimes 7 other vehicles, now if these vehicles were out of county that is leaving no cover what so ever in Pembrokeshire, so it’s not all about the facilities that are being downgraded its the impact on the Ambulance Service being able to meet demand, after travelling such distances. In my time as Paramedic I can count at least 20 patients that if they had not received specialist care within 10-15 minutes they would have died, now there are 70-80 staff in Pembrokeshire making that figure roughly 1600. We are playing with statistics now, something like your Cabinet is doing. But that’s potentially 1600 lives that would have been lost: now are you happy for this to happen knowing that investing in our already fantastic hospital and making it a centre of excellence would be far more beneficial than making these ridiculous decisions based on no facts, no risk assessments and no thought what so ever?! I ask you: would you be happy for one of your family to wait in excess of 1 hour for an Emergency Ambulance? Would you be happy for them to travel 50 minutes in the back when they could have been 10 minutes away from the care they needed, but it had been removed due to the penny pinching government that are in power right now? In the long run, there will be so many lives lost due to all these changes the amount of money in corporate manslaughter cases will bring the Welsh Assembly to its knees. This, I don’t care about; but lives, I do. My family my friends the people of Pembrokeshire deserve better, we deserved to be listened to. We have a right to the best possible care and you’re taking this away from us all. I look forward to your response, and would hope you could give me the reasoning for these decisions, and some helpful facts on how the Ambulance Service will meet this demand, and bearing in mind we know the current situation so we will not be palmed off with your made up statistics Mr Drakeford, let’s hear the real truth for once, we deserve to know.

Kind regards Mr Colin Picton

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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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