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Wales’ ambitious aim to offer all eligible adults a booster by end of the year

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FIRST MINISTER Mark Drakeford last night set out Wales’ aim to offer all eligible adults an appointment for a booster vaccine by the end of December.
Urgent plans are being put in place to further accelerate the booster programme as new evidence has emerged showing two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine are not enough to offer protection against the new omicron variant.
But the booster dose is vital in improving protection against the fast-moving variant.
In a televised message to Wales, the First Minister said: “We must be prepared for omicron cases to rise quickly and very steeply – just as they have in other parts of the UK.

The NHS in Wales is being put on high alert due to fears over the Omicron variant


“We are still learning about this new form of coronavirus. All the information we have tells us we are facing a very serious situation. By the end of the month, omicron will have become the dominant form of the virus in Wales, bringing a new wave of infections and illness.
“This could then translate into a large number of people needing hospital treatment just at a time when the NHS is already under significant pressure. The Welsh Government will do everything we can to protect people’s health and keep Wales safe.
“New evidence has emerged about the effectiveness of our vaccines against omicron. Two doses of the vaccine is simply not enough to give the level of protection against the infection we all need. We have already increased the speed of the roll-out of our booster programme. New clinics have been opened and operating hours extended. Urgent efforts are now underway to accelerate the programme even further so we can offer all eligible adults an appointment by the end of this year if possible.
“Please make getting a booster a priority, as it is the single of the most important things you can do to protect yourself against coronavirus and this new variant.”
The First Minister added: “None of us wanted to hear the news of a new omicron variant. After almost two long years of the pandemic, we had all hoped that we could put coronavirus behind us this Christmas. Unfortunately, we are once again facing a serious and worsening situation. But, we have faced challenges many times during this pandemic.
“We can once again pull together to look out for each other – for friends, family and neighbours – to protect each other and keep ourselves safe and well. We have already taken some steps to increase protections in Wales and we may need to take some further steps to keep Wales safe.”
Commenting, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said: “Whilst it is encouraging that all indications show Omicron is a milder form of the virus, it is more transmissible and it’s clear booster jabs are a vital defence against the variant. Therefore, it is essential that government infrastructure is geared up to deliver boosters on a war-like scale.

The military as well as volunteers will be assisting the NHS deliver ‘shots into arms’


“The system clearly needs to be modernised to introduce more dynamism and flexibility like online booking systems, especially considering the numerous questions over how normalised regular jabs are going to become.
“After heeding our calls for walk-in centres and reactivation of the volunteer army, Labour’s Health Minister should now extend the hours during which people are vaccinated, making greater use of community pharmacists, reopening mass vaccination centres, and prioritising boosters over jabs for teenagers.
“We do not need more restrictions if a critical mass of people get their jabs. There is a duty on all those eligible to get their vaccination and the Labour Government has a responsibility to deliver the rollout rapidly. A free society and an open economy depend on it.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats welcomed the accelerated vaccine booster targets but have also called for greater support to be provided to the hospitality industry over the winter.
Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS stated: “I welcome the Welsh Government’s new target to offer every adult a booster vaccine by the end of December, vaccinations remain the best way out of this crisis.
“However, we would also like to see more financial support offered to hospitality firms being hit by reduced footfall due to concerns over Omicron. Despite no lockdown being in place pubs and restaurants are concerned about a drop off in trade during what is usually their busiest time of year, following fresh work-from-home guidance.
“Firms have already paid for stock for the Christmas period in the wake of supply chain disruptions. Much of this can’t be stored for the future, and even the small proportion that can will cause immediate cash flow disruption in already struggling businesses.”

A technician uses a single channel pipette dropper to test for Omicron


GMB Union said it encourages everyone to get their booster – but says frontline workers need a pay boost too.
Rehana Azam, GMB National Secretary, said: “There has been no respite for our frontline workers throughout the covid pandemic.
“They’ve put themselves in harm’s way to serve the public – particularly when governments and employers failed to ensure the provision of proper PPE and testing to keep them safe at work.
“GMB members know the importance of keeping safe and well, that’s why we’re encouraging everyone across the four nations to get their booster.
“But as governments, yet again, ask our NHS, social care and key frontline workers to undertake another huge national effort, they are still not paying these workers properly.
“Against the backdrop of covid, there is a cost-of-living crisis, key services face an understaffing crisis and the people delivering them are enduring a wage crisis.
“That’s not good enough and it’s got to be confronted.
“Our key workers must be paid properly – it’s the least they deserve for everything they are doing for all of us.”

Health

Local health board to consider how children’s hospital services will be delivered

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HYWEL DDA University Health Board will receive an update on a review into children’s hospital services, and a timeline for further work needed, at a meeting on Thursday 26 May 2022.

Since March 2020, the daytime Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit at Withybush Hospital, Haverfordwest, referred to as Puffin Ward, has been relocated to Glangwili Hospital, in Carmarthen.

The Board will be asked to approve the proposed approach to the review, to include a clinically-led appraisal of different options for provision of children’s hospital services in the interim years ahead of a new Urgent and Planned Care Hospital being established in the south of the Hywel Dda area.

Deputy Chief Executive and Medical Director Professor Philip Kloer explained: “Our review of the temporary changes to hospital paediatric services in the south of Hywel Dda, began in March this year. One of the first tasks has been developing a detailed scope, project plan and timeline.

“We want to undertake a clinically led appraisal of the options for the service between now and the establishment of the new hospital network, predicted to be around 2029. We want to hear the voices of our stakeholders, building on the feedback and engagement undertaken since 2014, to assess what else may be needed. We continue to work with the Consultation Institute to ensure the scope, approach, and timeline for the engagement are appropriate.”

The Executive Steering Group overseeing this review, is asking Board to approve the option appraisal process to take place in Autumn 2022, as well as an output report back to Board in November 2022. This would outline a list of options for interim paediatric services, and consider, along with the Community Health Council, whether formal engagement and or consultation is needed.

Since March 2020, the daytime Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit at Withybush Hospital, Haverfordwest, referred to as Puffin Ward, has been relocated to Glangwili Hospital, in Carmarthen.

This was due to the need for space at the hospital for the COVID-19 response. It was later extended due to an expected surge in children with respiratory illnesses (RSV) and the fact that the daytime service was then co-located with overnight services and a children’s high dependency unit, should a child’s condition deteriorate.

What this means is that children with serious illness, across the south of the Hywel Dda area, have been referred, asked to attend, or taken by ambulance, directly to Glangwili Hospital. Children with minor injuries or scheduled outpatient appointments have continued to be able to access this care and treatment at Withybush Hospital, as well as at Cardigan Integrated Care Centre.

In the meantime, the health board continues to monitor the pathway, ensuring it is safe for children and young people, and collecting data including patient outcomes and experiences for consideration in the review.

Children, young people and their families whom have received care from Hywel Dda University Health Board are encouraged to give their feedback on their experiences at any time. You can do this by visiting our website https://hduhb.nhs.wales/ and searching ‘patient feedback’ and you will find age appropriate questionnaires.

Clinical Director for Women & Children’s services, Consultant Paediatrician Dr Prem Kumar Pitchaikani said: “I want to reassure people that whilst this review takes place, we continue to provide stable, clinically safe and high quality hospital children’s services for children and young people across the south of our area from Glangwili Hospital.”

Clinical teams in the Emergency Department at Withybush Hospital and the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust are using a ‘triage tool’ to ensure rapid identification of children with significant illness who may present in Pembrokeshire or Withybush Hospital and quick onward transfer for specialist care.

You can watch the Board Meeting on Thursday 26 May through a link on the Health Board’s web pages – https://hduhb.nhs.wales/about-us/your-health-board/board-meetings-2022/board-agenda-and-papers-26-may-2022/ – which will be added on the day.

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Health

Health board and staff shortlisted in national BAME awards

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HYWEL DDA University Health Board, along with a number of its Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff, have been shortlisted in the 2022 National BAME Health and Care Awards (BAMEHCA).

The BAMEHCA is an annual event, hosted by DiversityQ, that recognises the hard work and resilience of BAME professionals in the UK health and care sectors.

The staff who have been shortlisted as finalist in nine categories are:

Joe Jaimangal, Nurse Specialist at Memory Assessment Service in Pembrokeshire for BAME nurse of the year
Dr Tipswalo Day, ST7 Specialty Trainee in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Glangwili Hospital for Clinical Champion
Jefferson De Vera, ITU staff nurse at Prince Philip Hospital, for Clinical Champion
Dr Rajeev Vaikanthanathan, GP at Ashgrove Medical Centre, Llanelli, for Clinical Champion
Community Development Outreach Team for Community Initiative of the Year
Augusta Stafford-Umughele, Workforce Culture, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, for Compassionate and Inclusive Leader
Dr Anand Ganesan, Consultant Psychiatrist for Carmarthen CMHT & CRHTs based in Wellfield Resource Centre, Carmarthen for Compassionate and Inclusive Leader
Dr Premkumar Pitchaikani, Consultant Paediatrician at Glangwili Hospital for Compassionate and Inclusive Leader
Chris Martin, Digital Business Change Manager, for Digital Champion
Dr Hashim Samir, Consultant Radiologist at Glangwili Hospital, for Inspiring Diversity and Inclusion Lead
Dr Akhtar Khan, Consultant Liasion Psychiatrist at Glangwili Hospital, for Mental Health Initiative
Beverly Davies, Strategic Partnership and Inclusion Manager for Outstanding Achievement of the Year
Hywel Dda UHB for Outstanding Corporate Achievement of the Year
Maria Battle, Chair of Hywel Dda UHB and the health board’s BAME Advisory Group, said: “I am really pleased to see all the outstanding work of our BAME colleagues in Hywel Dda being recognised nationally. It’s excellent that so many staff, and the health board itself, have been shortlisted for these prestigious awards. Good luck everyone and thank you for your dedication and compassion.”

The awards ceremony will take place on Thursday 9 June 2022 in London.

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Health

Those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster should get jabbed by end of June

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ALL those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster are being urged to take up their offer of the vaccine before the end of next month.

A deadline of 30 June has been introduced to ensure all those eligible for the spring booster will have a long-enough interval between this and the autumn 2022 booster, if they are also eligible.

An announcement by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) about which groups will be eligible for the autumn booster is due to be published shortly.

The JCVI has advised that people over-75, older care home residents and all those aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed are eligible for the spring booster.

Those who are 75 on or before 30 June, can get their booster at any point up to the deadline.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “It is important we continue our very high take up levels of the vaccine to help protect us against the risk of serious illness from Covid-19. I would urge everyone who is offered a spring booster vaccination takes up the invitation.”

If someone eligible for a spring booster has had a Covid infection recently, they will need to wait 28 days from the date they tested positive before they can be vaccinated. They will still be able to get vaccinated after 30 June as part of this campaign if they have to postpone their appointment.

All those eligible for spring boosters will be invited by their health board or GP.

It is not too late for anyone who needs a primary dose (first, second or third) to be vaccinated.

Please check for local arrangements.

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