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Children to be turned away from Withybush A&E in department downgrade



WITHYBUSH GENERAL HOSPITAL’S accident and emergency department will be downgraded to an ‘adults only service’ until at least the spring of 2022, according to Simon Hart. There has been no word yet from the Health Board but the local MP has posted the controversial plan to his Facebook page.

Children requiring emergency treatment will have to be ambulanced to further-away hospitals, putting pressure on the local ambulance service, who are already reducing the number of vehicles available in the county from seven to five.

Withybush is experiencing a severe shortage of staff, and is also grappling with the third wave of COVID-19 infections, which is expected to be announced as one of the reasons for the downgrade.

But some hospital insiders are saying things are worse in Carmarthen.

In addition, hospital sources have told the Herald that three unvaccinated COVID-19 patients died in Withybush last week.

The plan has come to a shock to many, but Steve Moore, the Health Board’s Chief Executive, has this week reported that there are 66 people in our hospitals with confirmed Covid, 10 of these are in Intensive Care

The local ambulance service is under great pressure, with many crews spending long waits at the hospital (Pic Herald)

He stated that about half of those in ICU have been vaccinated and added that the clinical view is that patients respond more quickly and favourably if they are vaccinated. All Covid deaths in the past few weeks have been of unvaccinated people.

Infection rates are coming down slightly but are still very high, with 506 cases per 100,000 people in Carmarthenshire (the 2nd highest level in Wales) and 293 cases per 100,000 in Pembrokeshire. There is a test positivity rate of 16% across the HB area. It is thought that cases peaked on 6th September, though the full impact of schools going back may not yet have been seen.

Reacting to the news of the downgrade to A&E, Tracy Olin, who runs the PATCH charity said on social media: “People without cars and/or money already struggle to get to Withybush. How are they supposed to be able to afford to get to Carmarthen? This will be an added pressure on our ambulance service. Sadly I fear, even with excellent arguments against the plans for Withybush the decision will not change.”

Local resident Bev Jenkins also added her concerns, saying: “Paediatrics is needed full time at Withybush, also now with only five ambulances going to be in Pembrokeshire, its shameful. Withybush needs all its services back! Sack half the pen-pushers at the health board, reduce the managers at the hospital, employ more doctors and consultants.”

Heather Scammell commented on Facebook, saying: “Were I to comment what I really think about Hywel Dda’s shameful disregard for the needs of Pembrokeshire residents, I would be permanently banned from Facebook. To leave our County without paediatric care for so long is indefensible and no further downgrade of A&E is acceptable.

More than 1,200 people – many of who credit Withybush Hospital with saving their life or that of a loved one – came out to protest planned cuts to services in November 2018.

Families, staff and current and former patients braved the bad weather to send a message to Hywel Dda health board: Pembrokeshire must keep its A&E department.

Children will need to be ambulanced to Carmarthen in an emergency, adding extra journey time. (Pic Herald)

Demonstrators shared moving personal accounts of how the hospital has helped them, and aired concerns over the potential impact if it is downgraded, and services moved to a new site between Whitland and St Clears.

Addressing the crowd at the time, Preseli-Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb: “When 40,000 people sign a petition to the health board, they mean it.

“Most of us are here because Withybush is part of our lives, it’s part of our community. The campaign is not over. We will keep fighting to defend our A&E.”

The question now is, how does closing the A&E to children affect their safety, and does it put our children’s lives at risk?

The health board has been contacted for a comment.

A demo against cuts to services in Cardiff in 2018 (Pic Herald)


A round up of Covid changes to measures and information



FROM Today (Oct 12) Pembrokeshire County Council is urging the public to be vigilant following the important changes to the Covid-19 measures and information about the vaccination and testing programme.

To ensure our communities are aware, here’s a summary of what you need to know:


From 11 October, you must use the NHS COVID Pass to show that you are fully vaccinated or have tested negative (through taking a lateral flow test 48 hours before event or attending venue) to attend large events, nightclubs and other similar venues.

You can get your NHS COVID Pass at:

You will need to register with the NHS before accessing your pass, please bear this in mind before any big event you’re planning to attend.

More information for businesses on the requirements for the NHS COVID Pass can be found on the Welsh Government website:

COVID-19 Testing for children and young people and for staff working in special schools and colleges:

From Monday 11 October, staff in primary schools, secondary schools and colleges and learners who are under 18 in secondary school and college who have a household member that has tested positive for COVID-19 should undertake daily lateral flow every day for seven days, in addition to PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8.

This should start on the day a household contact is confirmed positive from a lateral flow or PCR test result.

Testing children under 5 years of age:

It is no longer recommended that children under 5 years of age take COVID-19 tests without symptoms.

Where children under 5 do have symptoms Welsh Government do not routinely recommend tests unless directed to do so by a doctor or if parents believe a test is absolutely necessary and in the best interests of the child.

Booster vaccines:

Those eligible for a booster vaccination will be invited to attend a Mass Vaccination Centre by Hywel Dda University Health Board (HDUHB) when it is their turn i.e. those who received their second vaccine dose more than six months ago.

You may have received an appointment at one of the HDUHB mass vaccination centres further away but you can attend your nearest centre at a time that suits you.

You won’t need to contact HDUHB beforehand. Please bring your appointment letter with you when you attend.

Vaccines for 12-15 year-olds:

12 -15 year-olds in Pembrokeshire are beginning to receive invites to attend a Mass Vaccination Centre by HDUHB when it is their turn.

You may have received an appointment at one of the HDUHB mass vaccination centres further away but you can attend your nearest centre at a time that suits you.

You won’t need to contact HDUHB beforehand. Please bring your appointment letter with you when you attend.

Not vaccinated yet?

You may have previously declined the vaccination but have since change your mind – there’s still time to get vaccinated. Walk-in clinics remain open at all Mass Vaccination Centres for those aged 16 and over who require a first or second dose.

Find your nearest centre here:

COVID-19 has not gone away and we all need to continue to play our part to keep Pembrokeshire and each other safe.

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Hywel Dda Health Board: Visiting restrictions for Withybush Hospital



DUE to increased cases of Covid-19 in hospital and the community, the decision has been made to close Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest to visitors with immediate effect.

Visiting will only be permitted in extenuating circumstances, such as end of life and critical visits. All visitors must carry out lateral flow device (LFD) test at home prior to travelling to the hospital.

Lateral flow self-test kits can be obtained by:

When visiting our hospitals please remember to wear a face mask, this will be replaced by a surgical face mask at reception or ward.

Please remember to maintain social distancing and to wash your hands as often as possible using soap and water and hand sanitiser.

The situation is being monitored at regular intervals and a further update will be made when visitor restrictions are lifted.

We thank everyone for your understanding at this time while we work to stop the spread of this virus.

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New plan to keep Wales open and safe during “challenging” winter ahead



The First Minister, Mark Drakeford, will today (Friday October 8) publish new plans to help keep Wales open and safe during the difficult autumn and winter months ahead.

The Welsh Government is publishing an updated Coronavirus Control Plan, which outlines the key actions, which could be put in place to control the spread of the virus.

Wales will remain at alert level zero for the next three weeks, following the latest review of the coronavirus regulations. This means all businesses are open and Wales has the lowest level of restrictions.

Speaking ahead of his press conference, First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

“We are facing a challenging winter ahead – coronavirus hasn’t gone away and flu is forecast to return this winter.

“Vaccination is the best defence we have against coronavirus – the more people who are fully vaccinated, the better our chances of controlling the spread of this awful virus.

“We will continue to focus our efforts on increasing take up of the Covid-19 vaccine across the age and priority groups and rolling out the booster vaccine too. We also encourage everyone who is eligible, to have their flu jab this year.

“There is also a range of other measures we can all take to help protect ourselves and our loved ones, such as washing our hands, reducing the number of people we meet and wearing a face covering in indoor public places.

“These measures have helped keep us safe throughout the pandemic and they will also help to protect us from other winter viruses, such as flu and other respiratory infections.”

The latest version of the Coronavirus Control Plan sets out two planning scenarios for the pandemic over the winter – in the first, called Covid Stable, Wales remains at alert level zero through the autumn and winter, with all businesses able to open.

This is thought to be the most likely scenario for the future, as we become used to living with coronavirus and we gradually move out of the pandemic to a position where the virus becomes a seasonal illness.

Under this scenario, if case rates fall, measures could be relaxed further in response, and if they rise, some existing measures could be strengthened to protect people’s health.

The second planning scenario, called Covid Urgent, is designed to deal with any sudden changes to the situation, caused by the emergence of a new, fast-spreading variant or if vaccine immunity levels fall, causing a rise in pandemic pressures, which risk overwhelming the NHS.

In such a scenario, the alert level system and restrictions would be used proportionately, but as a last-resort means, to protect people’s health, control the spread of infections and to protect the NHS.

Help keep Wales safe:

• Get your Covid-19 vaccines, including your booster when invited

• Get tested and self-isolate if you have symptoms

• Outdoors is safer than indoors

• Keep your distance when you can

• Wash your hands regularly

• Wear a face covering in indoor public places

• Keep indoor places well-ventilated

• Work from home whenever possible

• Use a Covid Pass in nightclubs and large events.

Commenting on the First Minister’s announcement Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said:

“Like the First Minister acknowledged, vaccinations have proven to be the key that unlocked society and the economy after severely weakening the link between infection and hospitalisation. To those who have yet to be vaccinated, we urge them to do so and those eligible to get a booster jab.

“However, while we remain at Level 0, new restrictions are coming in as the coercive, ineffective, and anti-business Covid passports will limit our freedoms, fail to limit the spread of coronavirus according to the Welsh Government’s own scientists, and add additional burdens on already stretched businesses.

“There has been a poor communication campaign from the Welsh Government on their introduction, little justification of their effectiveness, a failure to address confusion and fix bugs, and no explanation on how they will police the alternative Covid test system so open to abuse.

“We have passed the peak of infections without further restrictions and passports will do little to stem the problems that has led to the worst-ever A&E waiting times, longest ever NHS treatment backlog, and second slowest ambulance response times built up under Labour mismanagement.

“So instead of further restrictions, we need Labour ministers to bring forward a proper winter pressures plan that introduces the Covid treatment hubs for which Welsh Conservatives have long called for and reverse their damaging decision to bring in Covid passports.”

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