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Come clean over cancer cash

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ADAM’S CHARITY SHOP, HAVERFORDWEST

ADAM’S CHARITY SHOP, HAVERFORDWEST

A LOCAL charity, Adam’s Bucketful of Hope, has asked the Local Health Board to refund money given to it to fund cancer treatment at Withybush Hospital. 

During his treatment for leukaemia, Adam Evans-Thomas campaigned vigorously to persuade the then government to pay the costs of DNA tests for bone marrow donors and, through his campaigning zeal, also helped enlist 3,000 people on to the bone marrow register. During the later stages of his illness, Adam established the Bucketful of Hope appeal, to raise money to refurbish Ward Ten at Withybush Hospital and support the construction of a new Cancer Day Unit (CDU). Adam died of leukaemia in 2004 but his campaign was continued by his mother, Chris. The charity has raised just under £650,000 towards the costs of refurbishing and building cancer facilities at Withybush Hospital. But now Chris Evans-Thomas is asking for the money back. Gross delay in the Health Board even agreeing the location of a new CDU over the last ten years has exhausted her patience. In an interview, she said that she had been given several dates for the works to start on a CDU but that nothing had ever been done to realise those plans. As a result, of the Health Board’s failure to act, she has now asked for the money back so she can crack on with fulfilling Adam’s wish to provide cancer services within Pembrokeshire. The Herald understands that the Board is unlikely to agree to her request. The Local Health Board has claimed, as it has in relation to cutting other services at Withybush Hospital that staff shortages and recruitment problems have delayed refurbishing Ward Ten and building a CDU. The Board has, however, been widely and repeatedly criticised for its apathetic recruitment practices and has been alleged by some campaigners to have engineered staff shortages to justify its plans to shift essential services away from Withybush to Glangwili, where the Chemotherapy Day Unit was refitted in 2011. The situation has been muddied by the failure of the Board to ring fence money raised to provide services in Pembrokeshire. The Board amalgamated its various charitable funds into the Hywel Dda General Fund in March 2012, with a pot for cancer treatment ACROSS the Health Board area, and now touts for donations to this charity. Hywel Dda claims that £550,000 has been dedicated to refurbishing Ward 10 at Withybush and to building a Cancer Day Unit. A spokesperson for the Board said: “The capital build is only part of the challenge as all service/units that we provide require a review of staffing to ensure that they are sustainable in the long term. “We continue to work hard with colleagues, partner organisations and stakeholders, including our charitable fundraisers, to ensure we provide the best care possible for cancer patients and will continue to work closely with them on the development of the new chemotherapy day unit.” Local campaigner Lyn Neville is unimpressed by the Board’s stance: “A Hywel Dda Charitable Funds Committee Summary Report written in 2010 stated that a decision could not be made until after the clinical review had concluded in Summer 2011. Assurances were given that the Cancer Day Unit was NOT under threat and the Chairman, Mr Chris Martin, agreed to issue a statement to provide assurance to the local population. The statement never happened and three years on still nothing happens with the CDU and Ward 10. “As it happens, Board minutes from September last year say that the announcement of £550,000 of funding in Pembrokeshire is intended to ‘appease’ local sentiment.” If that was the Board’s plan, it has spectacularly backfired. As the Herald previously reported, a further review of Cancer Services – initiated only in the last few months – is now not scheduled to report until the end of 2014. In relation to that review, a Health Board spokesperson said: “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.” The failure to update oncology services at Withybush are rendered even more shocking in light of the Herald’s recent revelation that the Board had not advertised in good time for a replacement for cancer specialist Dr Anne Barnes MBE, who earlier this year told the Board she was retiring. A check carried out on the Health Board’s jobs website shows that while a recruitment advert for a number of general medical posts is online, the closing date for applications is July 6, with new staff unlikely to be in post much before this September. In November 2013 it emerged that outpatient appointments at Withybush Hospital for cancer sufferers had been capped. As a result, instead of attending in Haverfordwest, some patients and staff were required make a three and a half hour round trip to Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli twice a month.

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‘Reach out to friends and family’ says Council Leader

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THIS week’s update from Cllr David Simpson, Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council:

‘Hello everyone, I hope you are all keeping well and safe.

‘I’d like to highlight that this week is Mental Health Awareness Week.

‘I’m very aware that the last 15 months has had a huge impact on our lives and, in some cases, our wellbeing.

‘Mental Health can be a hidden issue and we all need to be aware that some people may need some extra support.

‘On a personal level the lockdown restrictions have reminded me of the importance to talk to people and to ensure people are supported.

‘Supporting your friends and family can be as simple as a phone call to say hello. A quick hello can ensure people are ok and managing and can give someone a huge uplift.

“Our communities have done a fantastic job of supporting each other so please, Team Pembrokeshire, continue these efforts.

‘I urge you all to pick up the phone and say hello to your friends and family, as we all need to play our role in everyone’s wellbeing – talking about issues does make a difference.

‘If you are suffering from Mental Health or general wellbeing issues please reach out, do not struggle on your own, your friends and family can help and make a difference.

‘Please also take the opportunity to also view the website at https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week which has much more information and support.

‘I now want to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in last week’s elections.

‘Elections take a phenomenal amount of organisation at the best of times but even more so in a pandemic situation.

‘To all those who ensured the smooth running of the elections process, thank you.

‘Congratulations to all the successful candidates and I look forward to working with them to further improve the lives of Pembrokeshire people.

‘We have now had further updates from Welsh Government and the next phase of the unlocking road map has been unveiled.

‘From Monday, 17th May, indoor hospitality can re-open.

‘Up to six people from six different households will be able to meet indoors in pubs, cafes and restaurants.

‘We have so many fantastic hospitality venues in Pembrokeshire who we know will be giving their customers a big welcome after so long away.

‘The opening of indoor hospitality will be a major landmark in our emergence from the pandemic and towards recovery.

‘While out and about please remember social distancing rules are still in pace, consider your actions on others, remember your footprint has an impact on our communities, so please tread lightly.

‘When you go home, leave with a smile – enjoy your days out, enjoy seeing your families and most importantly enjoy our beautiful county and please support us in keeping Pembrokeshire special – play your part and please be responsible.

‘I want to wish you all a lovely weekend and I look forward to talking to you all again next week through my update.

‘Thank you everyone.’

You can keep up to date with all the Council’s press releases here: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/newsroom

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Plan to rescue rare butterfly from extinction in Pembrokeshire

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THE PEMBROKESHIRE Coast National Park Authority is stepping up efforts to save the marsh fritillary butterfly, which was once widespread in Wales but is now close to extinction in Pembrokeshire.

Funded by the Pembrokeshire Nature Partnership, the new landscape scale strategy aims to improve the fortunes of the rare species, which relies on networks of flower rich marshy grasslands across the landscape.

Much of this habitat, which is home to the favourite food of its larva – the devil’s bit scabious (succisa pratensis), has been lost due to drainage, inappropriate tree planting and the neglect of traditional management of grasslands through light grazing with heavy animals such as cattle.

National Park AuthorityBiodiversity Officer, Sarah Mellor said: “The marsh fritillary in Pembrokeshire is now in a very precarious position. We think it has already become extinct in a number of areas in its former range and it has not been seen on the St Davids Peninsula since 2013. The population around Keeston and Tiers Cross is also now thought to be extinct.

“We must find a way to make space for wildlife in our landscape to ensure that nature can thrive for future generations. It is quite sobering to think this species could disappear from Pembrokeshire in my lifetime. We have a responsibility not to let this happen on our watch.

“Even in those areas where it remains we have seen dramatic declines, for example around Mychanchlogddu it used to be recorded from 32 sites, but since 2015 it has only been seen at seven sites.”

The National Park Authority has already stepped up its action to rescue the rare butterfly by assisting landowners to bring sites into suitable management through grant aid and providing suitable grazing animals through the Pembrokeshire Grazing Network and the Conserving the Park Scheme.

The new strategy will include mobilising Park Authority staff and volunteers to undertake targeted surveys at sites across the county, as well as helping landowners to manage their land in a sensitive way to help ensure the future of this rare butterfly.

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Santander turns away customers due to nationwide computer glitch

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CUSTOMERS of Santander in Haverfordwest were being turned away this morning by branch staff saying that they were unable to make transactions due to a computer glitch. It is understood that branches use the same computer systems which run the bank’s other systems.

Problems arouse last night when computer updates which the bank was implementing did not go to plan.

Some Herald readers contacted the news room to speak of their surprise that they were not able to access their funds.

One reader, who had gone to the bank to withdraw funds to pay rent on his home was told that there was nothing that could be done.

Website and App transactions are also being affected at the high street bank, and card transactions are being declined

The head of money at consumer magazine Which?, Gareth Shaw, said many customers will be stressed, “with people reporting that they have been unable to make online payments or in some cases purchase food in their local supermarket”.

“Customers can incur fines, penalties and fees when they’re not able to access their finances, so the bank must offer compensation to all those who have been impacted in this way”.

Santander told customers they can “access cash from other banks’ ATMs, at the Post Office and can get cashback where that’s available”.

A service status page on its website said planned maintenance was due to be performed on the Santander mobile banking app overnight on Friday. It is not known whether this prompted Saturday’s problems.

On Twitter, a Santander spokesperson said: “We’re sorry that a technical problem is affecting our services, our teams are working hard to fix it.

“You can access cash from other banks’ ATMs. Please check back here for further updates.”

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