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Hospital visiting restrictions relaxed in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokehire

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FAMILY and friends can now attend hospitals in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire to visit patients on a limited basis with prior agreement with hospital staff in line with Welsh Government guidance.

While the prevalence of COVID-19 has reduced within our hospitals and in the community, the virus has not gone away. Like some other areas across Wales and the UK we are continuing to deal with cases of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections in our hospitals. As a result, visiting arrangements to all hospitals in Hywel Dda UHB are being reviewed regularly and remain subject to change at short notice.

With effect from Monday 29 November, all visits must be pre-arranged with the ward sister or charge nurse to enable us to maintain social distancing in our wards and across our sites. This means that a pre-booked visit for one person daily can be supported, provided your visit has a clear purpose and is in the best interest of the patient, in line with the following guidance:

‘Visiting with a purpose’:

  • End of life – last days of life
  • Carer – you are the carer or the nominated representative
  • Parent/Guardian – children and young people can be supported in an inpatient environment by the identified parent/guardian
  • Learning disabilities (LD) – a patient with learning disabilities may need you as their carer/next of kin to share information about their individual needs and virtual visiting may not be appropriate
  • Dementia – to support a person with Dementia as part of the ongoing support/plan of care
  • Other – for example where it is felt a visit from you may help the patient with rehabilitation, understanding of care/condition, help with dietary concerns. The ward sister may agree visiting outside of this guidance in certain circumstances.

The current visiting arrangements within our maternity services remain unchanged at this time.

Please note that visitors who do not meet the criteria will be asked to use a virtual visiting option instead which is available within the hospital, such as using a tablet or mobile phone. Family Liaison Officers will be available on wards to support access to virtual visiting.

All visitors must carry out a lateral flow device (LFD) test at home and have a negative result from that test prior to travelling to the hospital. Lateral flow self-test kits can be obtained by:

It is recommended that test results – negative or positive – are recorded on the UK Government portal (www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result)

When visiting our hospitals please remember to wear a face covering, this will be replaced by a surgical face mask at reception or ward entrance. Please remember to maintain social distancing and to clean your hands on entering the building and as often as possible using soap and water or hand sanitiser.

Mandy Rayani, Executive Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Experience, said: “On behalf of the health board I want to express our deepest gratitude to our patients, their families and our communities for their continued understanding and adherence to the very strict hospital visiting rules that we have had to impose throughout this pandemic. 

“We appreciate that it is a difficult time for everyone. We will continue to support the wellbeing of our patients/service users, their families and loved ones in the best way we can, while keeping everyone as safe as possible.

“Our patient support team and family liaison officers can help to deliver essential items to patients from their family and facilitate communication through digital options/telephone; if you need their assistance please call them on and 0300 0200 159 and they will do their best to help you.”

Please do not visit any of our hospital sites if you:

  1. are unwell, have flu like symptoms, currently have or had diarrhoea and vomiting in past 48 hours, have been in contact with anyone with the above symptoms in the last 48 hours have an existing medical condition or are on medication that puts you at risk of infection. Infection control advice – Hywel Dda University Health Board (nhs.wales)
  2. have been asked to isolate by the contact tracing team or if you have any of the three main symptoms of COVID-19 – a new continuous cough, temperature or loss or change of taste or smell. If you experience any of these symptoms please book a COVID-19 PCR test via the UK portal or by ringing 119. You should also book a test if you have mild cold or flu-like symptoms, including runny or blocked nose, sore throat, muscle ache or pain, excessive tiredness; persistent headache, persistent sneezing and/or hoarseness, shortness of breath or wheezing. When booking your PCR test, you will also be asked about your symptoms: if you have mild cold or flu-like symptoms, rather than the classic three symptoms, choose ‘None of these symptoms’ and then choose one of the following options to enable you to complete the booking:
  • My local council or health protection team has asked me to get a test, even though I do not have symptoms or
  • A GP or other healthcare professional has asked me to get a test.
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Health

Fourty-five nurses recruited from overseas to fill urgent vacancies at local hospitals

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HYWEL DDA Health Board says it has recruited 45 international nurses and plans to increase this number significantly over the coming months.

International nurses have been part of the NHS since its inception in 1948 and continue to play a vital role. Hywel Dda UHB aims at recruiting 100 international nurses this year through the centrally delivered programme with NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership, local health boards and the Welsh Government.

The newly recruited nurses are part of a wider project to enhance and expand the health board’s nursing workforce which will help deliver the best possible care to patients.

The first cohort of 11 nurses arrived in May. The nurses have taken their objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) and are based in Glangwili and Prince Philip hospitals

The second cohort of nurses arrived in June. The group of 19 nurses have also taken their OSCE and are based across Glangwili, Prince Philip and Bronglais hospitals.

The third cohort of nurses arrived in July and are currently undergoing OSCE training in preparation for their examination. The 15 nurses are spread across Glangwili, Prince Philip, Withybush and Bronglais hospitals.

Judith Avan from Nigeria, who works at Bronglais Hospital said: “Living in Wales has been lovely, people are so welcoming, and the weather has been so lovely. I look forward to developing in my career and specialise in respiratory therapy.”

Nabitha Kabeer from India, who works in Glangwili Hospital said: “I’m excited about working with NHS Wales. I look forward to enjoying the beauty of Wales and developing in my career. I want to specialise in Infection control or operating theatre nursing or forensic nursing.”

Oyebola Opemipo Tikolo from Nigeria, who works in Glangwili Hospital said: “It has been a nice experience on and off the ward, the people are friendly and helpful. I am looking forward to developing in my career by taking more courses, I also look forward to bringing my family over and settling down here. I intend to specialise in midwifery as I have experience in midwifery from my country.”

The UHBs approach to attracting and retaining its employees is to be a value-based organisation.

Director of Workforce and OD Lisa Gostling said: “We continuously work together to be the best we can be as we strive to develop and deliver excellent services, putting people at the heart of everything we do. We want to attract a diverse workforce and are delighted to welcome the newly recruited nurses to the Hywel Dda family.”

If you wish to be kept informed about jobs in Hywel Dda UHB, please follow SwyddiHywelDdaJobs on Facebook or Twitter.

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Health

Avian flu hits Grassholm seabird colony

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BIRDS on Grassholm are at risk following an outbreak of avian flu.

The disease’s presence in Grassholm’s large wild bird population was confirmed on Wednesday, August 3.

Avian influenza is a highly contagious viral disease.

It affects many species of birds’ respiratory, digestive, or nervous systems.

Some strains of Avian influenza can spread easily and quickly between birds and have a high death rate.

Migratory seabirds and waterfowl are known carriers of avian flu.

The highly pathogenic H5N1 strain originated in the intensive poultry industry in Asia and has since spread into wild bird populations worldwide.

Up until now, the disease had not reached Grassholm.

Sadly, this is no longer the case.

Following a spate of suspicious deaths during a recent RSPB surveillance visit, DEFRA testing confirmed the disease’s presence.

The outbreak is in its early stages, and RSPB are keeping Grassholm under close surveillance and will update the public as and when there is more to tell.

Very rarely infected birds can pass the disease onto humans.

Grassholm is known for its huge colony of northern gannets; the island has been owned since 1947 by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and is one of its oldest reserves.

A National Nature Reserve, Grassholm is the world’s third most important site for gannets.

It serves as a breeding site for 36,000 pairs of gannets and supports around 10 per cent of the world population.

A severe outbreak at a major breeding site would be disastrous, as would the potential for the disease’s spread along the Pembrokeshire coast and the neighbouring islands of Skokholm and Skomer.

At present, the outbreak is small but has the potential to escalate.

You may come across dead or dying gannets (or other seabirds) washed in on beaches around Pembrokeshire.

DO NOT touch these birds, keep dogs away from them, and report to DEFRA on 03459 33 55 77.

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Calls for clarity on Monkeypox vaccination programme in Wales

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THE WELSH LIBERAL DEMOCRATS have called on the Welsh Government to offer clarity on its approach to vaccination against the Monkeypox virus in Wales. The calls come after there has been confusion over the approach of the Welsh Government compared to the approach in England.

Monkeypox is an infectious viral disease related to Smallpox that usually causes mild symptoms, although death estimates range from 1%-10% and the disease can be more harmful to those with weak immune systems.

The virus is currently seeing an outbreak in the UK with over 2,000 cases seen so far. The outbreak has spread to over 75 countries with the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaring a global health emergency. In Wales the number of cases stood at 24 as of July 21.

Although no vaccine for Monkeypox currently exists, the Smallpox vaccine has proved effective against the virus as they come from the same family.

On June 22, the Welsh Health Minister, Eluned Morgan MS, issued a statement outlining that the UK Health Security Agency recommended the implementation of a vaccine strategy for those most at risk of catching the virus, including men who have sex with men and healthcare workers who work in sexual health services.

However, there has been confusion over the rollout, with those concerned told not to come forward for the vaccine until they are contacted.

Meanwhile in England, multiple clinics have made already made the vaccine available and multiple walk-in clinics have been set up in London.

Calling for more decisive action, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said: “We really need to see more clarity from the Welsh Government on its plans to ensure those are more likely to be at risk from catching Monkeypox are able to get vaccinated.

“Stating that those on a PrEP prescription will be contacted is fine, but what about the large numbers of susceptible people who are not on PrEP? In some health boards such as Powys PrEP still isn’t available, which is a problem within itself.

“Given the speed in which the virus is spreading, what we really need to see is vaccines to be made available in clinics across Wales and for walk in appointments also to be made available.

“I would also like the Welsh Government what it is doing to address the limited supply of the MVA vaccine. It is vital that these concerns are clarified to give those at risk peace of mind.”

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