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Health

Omicron ‘challenging all parts of healthcare provision’

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THE INCREASING challenge on healthcare from the Omicron variant is currently affecting all parts of healthcare, including GP, dental, pharmacy and optometry provision, Hywel Dda health board has said in its latest press release.

GP Practices across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire remain under considerable pressure and as a result, more appointments may be offered over the telephone or online.

The board is giving the following advice to service users: “If you are asked to attend the surgery in person, please do so alone unless you need assistance, and remember to wear a face mask.

“Most Practices have online systems, such as E-Consult or Ask My GP, to allow patients to ask a non-urgent question about their health. Please see your Practice’s website for more information.

“My Health Online remains an online 24/7 option for ordering repeat medication; designed for patient convenience and especially useful for those who are self-isolating or shielding. Patients can register for this through their GP practice. Please allow extra time when ordering prescriptions.

“Telephone triage systems are in place in the majority of surgeries to ensure that a patient speaks to a clinical member of staff about their health.

“If a patient needs to be seen in person, the surgery will make an appointment with the most appropriate healthcare professional for their needs.

“Due to staffing issues we have also seen in recent weeks an impact on service pressures in community pharmacies, dentists and optometrists. We continue to work with all of our Primary Care services to make sure that we are able to provide timely and appropriate care but ask that patience and kindness is shown to staff as they are working very hard to try to deliver the services that patients can normally expect to receive from them. 

“Services may vary depending on individual dental practice circumstances, please ensure that you contact your practice who will be able to advise appropriately.

“You may find that you have to wait a little longer than normal to receive your prescribed medication and we would ask that you allow seven days for any repeat medication.”

Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care, Community and Long Term Care for Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “We wish to reassure patients that GP services are still available to you. When you contact your practice, you will speak to the most appropriate person for your condition and if you need to be seen in person, you will be given an appointment at the practice.

“It may take longer than normal to get through on the phone and you may wish to contact your doctor’s surgery online, if possible.

“We have had reports of verbal abuse targeted at Primary Care staff and this will not be tolerated; please remember they are working very hard to help their patients and we thank you for your patience at this time.

“Many conditions can be treated over the phone with advice and if required, a prescription can be issued to your nominated pharmacy. Please do not put off seeking treatment.

“Pharmacies offer a wide range of services including treatment for minor ailments. Please be aware that pharmacies are also operating at capacity and you may have to wait longer than usual.”

Responding to the latest Welsh Government press conference and the announcement of additional funding towards easing winter pressures, Darren Hughes, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, said:

“We welcome the announcement of further funding to support health and care organisations during a time of unprecedented pressures.

“The issues in social care have not gone away but have been exacerbated by the latest wave of the virus. Health and care services continue to work together in innovative ways to both help prevent hospital admissions and support the discharge of as many medically fit patients as is possible, given the constraints.

“It’s important we recognise that all parts of the system are experiencing extreme levels of demand at a time of record high staff absences: not just in our hospitals but in GP surgeries, pharmacies and the community, too. Although Covid hospitalisations aren’t at the highest they’ve been throughout the pandemic, in part thanks to the vaccination programme, GPs are absorbing much of this demand as many patients turn to them for support with Covid symptoms.

“The coming weeks will be some of the most challenging in the NHS’ history as it seeks to absorb the pressure of the Omicron wave amid huge demand and the challenge of significant staff absences.

“This is why the NHS needs you to access services in the right place at the right time, to make sure emergency health services are available for those who need life-saving care.”

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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