Connect with us
Advertisement
Advertisement

Health

Omicron surge leads to changes in testing in Wales

Published

on

AS OMICRON figures significantly rise throughout the country, Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services, has made changes to the PCR testing system.

Those testing positive on a Lateral Flow Test (LFT) but have no symptoms will no longer be required to get a follow-up PCR test.

All four UK nations have agreed upon changes as part of a strategy to reduce the pressures on the PCR testing system and increase access to those experiencing symptoms.

Those who are asymptomatic and have a positive LFT will be required to start their isolation immediately.

Another change announced is un-vaccinated close contacts of positive cases will now be able to replace the PCR test with LFTs on day two and eight.

In a statement, Eluned Morgan said: “Wales Covid-19 testing capacity has increased significantly in NHS Wales laboratories and as part of a UK testing programme which is the biggest in Europe with almost 400 million PCR tests carried out since the start of the pandemic.

“As the omicron wave sweeps across the country demand for PCR testing has reached unprecedented levels across the UK. This has resulted in the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) constraining bookings at times to avoid exceeding the UK programme laboratory capacity and compromising turnaround times for results.

“Since Christmas Day, daily bookings at test sites across Wales have reached up to 28,000 – a record high.

“I have agreed some immediate changes to the PCR testing system that will help reduce pressure and help increase access for those who have symptoms and need to book a test.   

“The first change will mean that people who are unvaccinated contacts of positive cases and are self-isolating for 10 days should now take a lateral flow test on day two and day eight instead of a PCR test. This will help to increase PCR testing capacity.  This change will come into effect immediately.

“Secondly, together with the other UK nations, we have agreed that if a person showing no symptoms has a positive lateral flow test they will no longer be advised to have a follow-up PCR test to confirm the result, unless they are in a clinically vulnerable group, which may need early access to treatment or have been advised to do so as part of a research or surveillance programme.

“As the prevalence of coronavirus is above 1%, the risk of false positives from lateral flow devices decreases. This means there is less value in having a follow-up PCR test to confirm the result. At higher prevalence levels, data suggests that lateral flow tests and PCRs have a similar positive predictive value.

“This change will come into effect from 6 January and we estimate it will reduce the demand for PCR tests by between 5% and 15%.

“Without a follow up PCR tests it is even more important for people to report the result of every lateral flow test they do and self-isolate as soon as they test positive. Without reporting, contact tracing will not be possible, nor will advice and support be provided by the system.

“We need everyone to continue to play their part in disrupting the transmission of Covid-19 by reporting their lateral flow test results on the gov.uk website or by calling 119.

“Positive results from lateral flow tests already flow into the Wales contact tracing system to speed up the contact and support required to help all those who need to self-isolate.

“NHS and social care staff access testing from our NHS Wales laboratories. We may need to introduce further changes to protect PCR tests for key workers through the UK testing programme if demand continues to grow in the coming days and weeks.

“We may also need to introduce other temporary emergency interventions for non-vulnerable symptomatic individuals to manage demand and safeguard capacity to find the cases most likely to result in harm.

“We recognise these changes will potentially increase demand for lateral flow tests. There are no current issues with supplies but we are aware of issues with distribution for people to access tests at some collection points including pharmacies.  UKHSA manage the logistics and deliveries across the UK and we are working closely with them to improve the situation. More than 4 million tests were distributed to workplaces, people’s homes and collection points in Wales last week.”

Commenting, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said: “This change is welcome on two fronts: firstly, it will preserve an increasingly precious supply of PCR tests and, secondly, preserves consistency across the United Kingdom.

“Of course, testing itself merely identifies carriers of the virus but won’t beat it. We can only do that through vaccinations and everyone who is eligible should be taking up their booster jab at the earliest opportunity.

“Soon, we will be able to live with the virus rather than just talk about returning to the freedom that is the birth-right of all Brits.”

Continue Reading

Health

Ground breaking telehealth trial supports people with long term conditions in West Wales

Published

on

A GROUND breaking telehealth trial has been deployed across West Wales to support people living at home with long term health conditions. One third of adults in Wales, around 800,000 people, have a long term health condition.

Hywel Dda Local Health Board is working in partnership with Delta Wellbeing, global health and care technology solutions provider Tunstall Healthcare and local primary care services support patients across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire living with long term conditions, such as cardiac, lung and chronic disease, at home using pioneering telehealth equipment.

The initiative focuses on supporting wellbeing in the community using remote monitoring and is transforming the way that care services are delivered to people living with long term conditions. From a service perspective, telehealth means that patients can remain in their own homes, with the reduced need to travel to appointments, and decreasing the need for staff to see patients who can be supported remotely. This in turn reduces stress and expense, and improves the quality of life for patients and their families.

Commenting on the telehealth trial, Gavin Bashar, managing director at Tunstall Healthcare, said: “Long term health conditions account for approximately 50% of all GP appointments, and more than 70% of all inpatient bed days. Using telehealth can help to provide ongoing monitoring to these patients in their own homes, enabling early intervention and empowering them to feel more confident in managing their health.

“Patients in the trial use using telehealth equipment including a blood pressure cuff, weighing scales and a pulse oximeter. The readings from these devices are transmitted to the Tunstall myMobile app on their smartphone and all the information submitted by the patient can be viewed remotely by clinicians 24/7, allowing preventative action to be taken.

“The telehealth service means that changes to a patient’s health or any response to medication can be monitored in real time, ensuring help can be provided at the earliest opportunity. This can lead to a reduction in the need for more complex interventions. The service has protected the wellbeing of vulnerable patients, improved outcomes in patients living with long term conditions, enabled the faster discharge of patients from hospital and provided personalised monitoring of complex comorbidities.”

Clinicians use software that provides a dashboard which prioritises patients that are most in need of care, and allows specialist nurses and primary care to remotely monitor each patient’s symptoms and progress. Areas of concern will generate an email or text message to clinicians, enabling them to be addressed promptly. The technology also allows patients to have consultations by video helping to avoid unnecessary visits to clinics or hospitals. When required, face to face appointments will be arranged for further treatment and consultation.

So far around 300 patients have been supported through the service. Early assessment of patient reported outcome measures show improvement of quality of life and a change in behaviour with improved physical and psychological outcomes.

Speaking on the benefits of home monitoring, 79-year-old cardiac patient Pat , said: “My heart nurse asked me if I would try this new technology that they were bringing in. I’ve had absolutely no problems what-so-ever. It’s no more difficult than going into a GP surgery. It’s all connected to the iPad I have been given which then goes straight through to the heart clinic. It’s so easy! You can do everything from your own armchair no problem at all.”

Clare Marshall, heart failure specialist nurse for Hywel Dda Local Health Board, added: “Telehealth equipment allows me to manage medication changes from a distance, which patients really like. I have been able to prevent hospital admission and more complex care interventions for a patient whose heart rate had decreased following a change of medication.

“Overall, the service empowers patients to manage their own condition as they learn more about what impacts upon their health, and increases confidence in recognising their symptoms. The service builds upon the principles of shared decision making and co-production in healthcare, delivering improved outcomes.”

The trial follows Delta Wellbeing’s successful CONNECT proactive technology enabled care (TEC) programme which has been acknowledged as an exemplar in the UK, providing a good practice example of working across sectoral boundaries to deliver a radical, person-centred approach to wellbeing, care and support.

CONNECT focussed on supporting prevention and wellbeing through a technological and digital approach, and combining bespoke technology enabled care equipment with wellbeing calls, access to a 24/7 community response and digital support. Delta CONNECT is a pioneering national programme funded under the Welsh Government’s Transformation Fund through the West Wales Care Partnership Board.

Continue Reading

Health

Health board: COVID-19 vaccinations will be by appointment only from end of this month

Published

on

THE LOCAL health board has announced that from August 31, access to Mass Vaccination Centres (MVCs) in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire for COVID-19 vaccinations will be by appointment only in preparation for the start of the winter vaccine programme.

Anyone wishing to drop-in for their first or second dose during August is advised to check opening times on the day before travelling by visiting hduhb.nhs.wales/healthcare/covid-19-information/covid-19-vaccination-programme/mass-vaccination-centres or calling 0300 303 8322 as these are subject to change. If you still require a booster, please wait to be offered an appointment.

From 31 August 2022 onwards, please book an appointment by calling 0300 303 8322 or by emailing COVIDEnquiries.hdd@wales.nhs.uk

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health at Hywel Dda University Health Board (UHB), said: “Throughout the vaccination programme we’ve aimed to make the vaccine easily accessible through a combination of drop-ins and appointments. This change will allow us to deliver the COVID-19 in partnership with primary care and minimise the risk of duplication or vaccine waste.

“If you are eligible for an autumn COVID-19 booster, please wait to be invited by either your GP or the health board. Everyone eligible will be offered an appointment by November.

“GP practices are also preparing to invite eligible patients for their seasonal flu vaccine and aim to offer an appointment to everyone eligible by December. Again, please do not contact your GP practice at this time, you will be invited when it is your turn.”

Scheduled drop-in sessions for children and young people who are home-educated or not in education to access childhood vaccinations routinely offered through school nursing teams will continue as advertised at selected MVCs.

The remaining drop-in sessions for children aged 5 to 17 years of age will be held between 12pm and 6pm in the following locations:

Aberystwyth MVC (Thomas Parry Library, Llanbadarn Campus, SY23 3AS) – Tuesday 30 August
Carmarthen MVC (Y Gamfa Wen, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, SA31 3EP) – Friday 2 September
Cwm Cou MVC (Ysgol Trewen, SA38 9PE) – Monday 22 August
Haverfordwest MVC (Pembrokeshire Archives, SA61 2PE) – Wednesday 31 August
Llanelli MVC (Dafen Industrial Estate, SA14 8QW) – Tuesday 23 August
These drop-in sessions are also open to any Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire or Ceredigion school attendees who may have missed their vaccinations.

If you are unable to attend one of these sessions and have any queries or wish for your child to receive their scheduled vaccines, please complete the form available here hduhb.nhs.wales/healthcare/services-and-teams/immunisation-and-vaccination/childhood-and-young-people-vaccinations/vaccine-access-for-home-schooled-children or call 0300 303 8322 to be contacted by a member of the health board’s immunisation nursing team.

Continue Reading

Health

Possible super-hospital plans released as Pembrokeshire site ruled out

Published

on

HYWEL Dda Health Board have reduced the number of potential sites for the new “super-hospital” in West Wales from five to three. 

The new site has been narrowed down to two possible locations in Whitland or one in St Clears.

According to the plans provided in Hywel Dda’s technical appraisal reports, all sites will include a main building divided into planned and urgent care, as well as a separate facility for mental health services. Parking, administrative facilities, and a helipad are also planned.

Site 12 in Whitland
Travel time analysis for population to site 12

The potential Narberth site is no longer being considered, meaning that the new hospital would be built outside of Pembrokeshire.

Hywel Dda presented the findings of a “transport infrastructure analysis,” stating that both sites had bus services that are “infrequent” and “short,” making shift work difficult.

Plan for ‘site C’ in Whitland
Travel time analysis for population to ‘site C’

For Whitland, it noted that there was an approximate 750m walking distance from the train station to the hospital site, with recommended walking distance of 400m, and that local roads do ‘not appear’ to suffer from significant congestion during a typical weekday. 

In St Clears, the report highlighted the impact a planned new railway station – expected to open in 2024 – could have on the town, saying it would be a ‘major boost’ to the area providing viable alternative car travel, with it being understood there is a commitment to increase the frequency of services at some stations along the west Wales line from two hourly to hourly.

Plans for ‘site 17’ in St Clears
Travel time analysis for population ‘site 17’ in St Clears

After it was announced that Narberth would not be the site of the new hospital, Hywel Dda University Health Board Chair, Maria Battle, assured the residents of Pembrokeshire that their concerns would be taken into account.

“Our programme business case to the Welsh Government is seeking the greatest investment west Wales will have ever seen,” said Ms Battle.

Ambulance times to Whitland, Bronglais Hospital and Morriston Hospital (Welsh Ambulance Service travel time analysis June 2022)
Ambulance times to St Clears, Bronglais Hospital and Morriston Hospital (Welsh Ambulance Service travel time analysis June 2022)

“We have listened to and continue to listen to the fears and voices of the public we serve and our staff who understand the frontline challenges of trying to deliver services across so many sites and spread so thinly.

“Recognising the fragility of our services and the risk this poses every day, we do not intend to make changes at Glangwili or Withybush hospitals before a new hospital is built. And afterwards, they will continue to provide valuable health services to our communities.”

Continue Reading

Business14 hours ago

Bug Farm explains rush to keep people and animals safe as raging wildfire approached

A PEMBROKESHIRE business has taken to the internet to thank everyone who has supported them throughout the recent grass fires....

News21 hours ago

South West Wales enters a state of Drought as dry weather continues

FOLLOWING the extended period of dry weather, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has confirmed that the trigger thresholds have been met...

News1 day ago

Large emergency service mobilisation to assist driver who went over cliff near oil refinery

POLICE, ambulance, coastguard, RNLI and two helicopters were all involved in the extraction of a casualty from a vehicle which...

News2 days ago

School leavers receiving A level results across Pembrokeshire today

A LEVEL RESULTS posted this morning show an overall 98* pass rate at grades A* to E compared with 99.1%...

News3 days ago

Pembrokeshire County Show opens today, and promises to be ‘action-packed’

WALES’ largest county agricultural show, Pembrokeshire County Show, opens today (Aug 17), and promises to be action-packed next week. The...

News3 days ago

Police investigating early morning hit-and-run in Pembroke; Officers appeal for information

POLICE in Pembroke are investigating a road traffic collision which occurred at about 2.15am on Sunday (Aug 14). A silver...

Health4 days ago

Health board: COVID-19 vaccinations will be by appointment only from end of this month

THE LOCAL health board has announced that from August 31, access to Mass Vaccination Centres (MVCs) in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and...

News4 days ago

Police looking for a suspect following disturbance in Narberth High Street

POLICE are investigating an incident which occurred at about 1am on Sunday morning, 31st July 2022 in Narberth . A...

News4 days ago

Seven injured in A477 road accident near Neyland – Two remain in hospital

DYFED-POWYS POLICE is appealing for witnesses after seven people were injured in a road accident. Two people remain in hospital...

News5 days ago

100 firemen at recycling centre blaze which will take ‘days to extinguish’

OFFICIALS from Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have said that a fire at TBS Recycling in Waterston...

Popular This Week