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Health Board Charity Grabs £3.9 million

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charity123AN INVESTIGATION by The Pembrokeshire Herald has revealed that the Local Health Board has reclassified millions of pounds of charity funds – which were pledged by donors for various specific projects – and reclassified that money so it can be spent how it sees fit. 

In 2009/2010 the Board undertook a secretive accounting exercise that moved £3.427m from restricted funds to unrestricted funds, meaning that its own charity could use the cash as it wished. The Herald can also confirm that by moving the cash into unrestricted funds, the Health Board’s charity is able hold on to the money which was raised for a Cancer Day Unit (CDU), even if it did not build one in the county. The Herald can also confirm that if the Board Charity held on to the money raised for the CDU in Restricted fund and then did not build a CDU in Pembrokeshire, then it would have to return the money to those who made donations to that project. If the money is Unrestricted, it would not. The Board claims that its own health charities given “vital support beyond what the NHS currently provides”. But in one example of charitable funds expenditure uncovered by the Herald, £4.5K of charity funds were used to refurbish storage cupboards. In addition, a recent decision means that the income from investment funds enabling the purchase of equipment for cardiac care can be deployed to meet other financial needs. The move was welcomed at the time by the only elected representative on the Health Board’s Executive Committee, Labour turncoat and IPPG Cabinet member Simon Hancock. So shy is the Health Board Charity of providing information about its activities that minutes of its meetings are virtually absent from the Board’s website. A look at the Board’s website on Tuesday, July 15 revealed that no public record of minutes exist for the Charity Committee’s meetings before March 3, 2014. With the last recorded meeting taking place on June 17, 2014. One explanation for the absence of minutes could be the reconstitution of the charity. A move that also means that past records of fundraising and charitable accounts have been removed from the public record. That change means that the unilateral reclassification of restricted funds to unrestricted ones would not be contained within information publicly available via the charities’ regulator’s – the Charity Commission – website. The Board claims: “All our funds are reported in our accounts and Annual Report to the Charity Commission and are subject to external audit by Wales Audit Office.“ The reality is that the reclassification of £3.9m in 2009/2010 cannot be found by reference to the public record at the Charity Commission, as that health board charity no longer exists. The Herald has, however, obtained copies of minutes of Charity Committee meetings, accounts and correspondence that sheds a startling light on the Board’s handling of charity funds. While the Health Board charity’s publicity strategy emphasizes its independence from the Local Health Board, that position is difficult to square with repeated assurances given by former Board Chair Chris Martin and former CEO Trevor Purt that charitable funds would be used to underpin the services would be revamped. If the Health Board’s charity was truly independent, unfettered discretion as to the deployment of its funds would be subject to a decision of its Trustees in line with Charity Commission rules and its own constitution (or Trust Deed). An examination of past Charity Committee meetings minutes obtained by the Pembrokeshire Herald shows that the names of those attending the meetings and taking part in decisions to spend charitable funds have been obliterated to prevent their identification. The Health Board charity says it will work with other charities and fundraisers. It offers its services to Leagues of Friends. The Charity Committee and the Board were not so forthcoming when it decided to secretively reclassify donations given to it away from one type of fund to another. As an example, the Herald has noted that the Board delegated two members of the Committee to visit undertakers in Pembrokeshire to ensure that legacies that would otherwise have been donated to Ward 10 at Withybush Hospital were instead directed to Pembrokeshire Cancer Services. The Health Board charity’s use of undertakers to help it meet its fundraising target of £2m a year means that families of bereaved could be misled into making donations to a cause not of their own or their deceased loved one’s choosing. The important difference between the two is that a donation made expressly for the benefit of Ward 10 would be a restricted fund that could only be used to benefit Ward 10. A donation to Pembrokeshire Cancer Services would be to an unrestricted fund operated by the Board’s own Charity that it could deploy as and when it saw fit. The Board has claimed in public on a number of occasions that funds are “ring-fenced” to develop a CDU at Withybush and to refurbish Ward 10. That assertion was made in a letter to new Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb in a letter from Trevor Purt, the Health Board’s former CEO. That sounds like the money is set aside and cannot be used for other things. But it does not. Mr Purt’s claim that the funds were “ringfenced” does not mean that charity funds will be used to develop such services in the same way that they would if the funds the Board reclassified were still restricted for that sole use. The distinction can be summarised as the difference between the Board having to use donations for the purpose for which they were intended or saying it will use them for that purpose but without any commitment to do so. An analogy of that type of meaningless promise is that the Board told Pembrokeshire it would maintain paediatric care in Pembrokeshire and then ran the service in such a way as to force inpatient paediatrics to move to West Wales General Hospital. When we asked the Board to comment on the activities of its charitable fund, it told us: “In relation to the above Cancer Services Fund a total of £550,000 has been committed voluntarily by the Charitable Funds Committee to two projects. The refurbishment of Ward 10 (the main cancer ward in Withybush Hospital – amount committed £250,000) and the re-provision of a Cancer Day Unit (in conjunction with Bucket Full of Hope).” Campaigners suspect the Board re-designated the funds because of the preponderance of donations given to provide cancer services in Pembrokeshire that were restricted for use at Withybush or within our county. That sentiment appears to be justified by unfortunate minutes seen by the Herald that suggests that, after the funds grab took place, an investment of £550,000 for cancer services at Withybush should be announced to “appease” people in Pembrokeshire. One charity the Board thought would be appeased is the Bucketful of Hope Appeal was set up in memory of Adams Evans-Thomas, who while suffering from the leukaemia that ended his life, campaigned for leukaemia and cancer sufferers. After Adam’s death, his baton was picked up by his mother Chris Evans- Thomas, who was subsequently awarded the MBE for services to charity. Chris continues to be involved in the Appeal and recently made a public request for the return of money handed over to the Board so that the charity could make good on the numerous promises made by the Board to build a Cancer Day Unit it has never fulfilled. Interestingly, and as the Herald was able to reveal last week, in 2010 former Board Chairman Chris Martin did offer to return the money raised toward the CDU to the Bucketful of Hope Appeal. He accompanied that offer with a statement that the Board intended to press ahead with building a CDU. In the circumstances, the charity declined as the Board seemed about to make good on its promises. The Herald has spoken to others at the meeting where that offer was made. Judging from the stance since adopted by the Board, Mr Martin’s approach was either unauthorised and unlawful or a cynical ploy, as the Board recently claimed: “The Health Board did not receive donations and legacies from the public to the Cancer Services Pembrokeshire Fund with any specific wish that it is for the Bucket Full of Hope’ or any expressed restriction (most likely in the form of a legacy) that it be used in this way. “Instead it was received with the wish that it be used in Cancer Services in Pembrokeshire (in the form of unrestricted donations). “Further, the Charity Commission have confirmed that under charity legislation the Trustees have a duty to expend the funds under the objects of the charity to which they were donated and these are specifically NHS. It was further confirmed by them that the University Health Board’s Charity has no power to hand these monies wholesale to a non NHS charity. Therefore it is the hospital charity that is responsible for the public discharge of those funds under Charity Commission rules and charity legislation.” While the Board Charity now says it cannot disentangle the money given to fund the CDU from its combined funds, as the redesignation of those funds took place before Chris Martin’s offer to hand back fundraisers’ money, its assertion appears to be – at best – slightly disingenuous and potentially selfserving.

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Pembroke Dock: Two in hospital following Fort Road car accident

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EMERGENCY SERVICES dealt with what has been described by a witness as a “horrific car accident” in the Pembroke Dock area on Wednesday night (Jun 12).

A 23-year-old woman, driving a black BMW, travelled down Fort Road at speed, hit a low wall, catapulting the vehicle some considerable distance across a picnic area. The vehicle ended up irreparably damaged on the beach – which was luckily not in use at the time – landing next to the old Cambridge Gun Tower.

No other vehicles seem to have been involved, police said.

The driver has been arrested but remains in hospital in Cardiff, one passenger is in a critical but stable condition, again in Cardiff, and a second passenger sustained only minor injuries.

A spokesperson for Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We were called at 10.45pm on Wednesday night (Jun 23), to reports of a road traffic accident near the Fort Road car park in Pembroke Dock.

“We attended the scene with one rapid response vehicle, two emergency ambulances and our Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service.

“Two people were taken to University Hospital Wales, Cardiff for further treatment.”

The police are appealing in the media for information following the crash.

An official statement from the police reads as follows: “We were called to Fort Road, Pembroke Dock, at around 10.45pm on Wednesday night to reports of a single-vehicle collision. Ambulance and fire service also attended.

“A 19-year-old man was taken to the Heath Hospital in Cardiff and remains in a critical but stable condition.

“A second passenger attended hospital for minor injuries but has since been discharged. A 23-year-old woman was arrested, and currently remains in hospital.

“Anyone who witnessed the collision but who has not yet spoken to us should get in touch by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, visiting our website, or calling 101.

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Pembrokeshire call handler helps deliver Llanelli couple’s new baby

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A 999 CALL HANDLER from Pembrokeshire has helped deliver a Llanelli couple’s baby.

Father-of-two Chris Bassett, from Hook, answered the call from the Trust’s Clinical Contact Centre in Carmarthen, and whose instructions on loudspeaker enabled the pair to deliver their 8lb 1oz new arrival safely.

Thanks to Chris, Troy Smith, 34, and partner Abigail Jones, 33, delivered baby Arabella Dilys Smith in the bedroom of their Llanelli home.

Troy said: “I’ve never felt adrenaline like it but I knew I had to focus on the situation for Abigail and the baby’s sake.

“It all happened so quickly, but Chris’ voice on the other end of the phone kept us calm.”

Abigail, a teacher at Ysgol Carreg Hir in Briton Ferry, went into labour at around 10.00pm on Thursday, June 3, and made a trip to hospital, where nurses confirmed she was in the early stages.

The couple returned to their Pwll home, but their soon-to-be daughter had other ideas.

Troy said: “At around 4.30am, Abigail developed a lot of pain and said she had an urge to push.

“I thought, ‘Right, this is happening’ and phoned an ambulance because I knew I’d be delivering the baby right there and then.”

It was Chris, a former RAF Aerospace Systems Operator, who picked up the call in the early hours of Friday, June 4.

The 29-year-old, who has been with the Welsh Ambulance Service for 18 months, said: “As soon as I answered the call, it was obvious that Troy and Abigail were in distress, as anyone would be in that situation.

“The priority was to get Abigail in a comfortable position to deliver the baby safely.

“For me, it was about giving them clear instructions while trying to keep them both calm.”

Troy added: “I just did what came naturally. When you’re in that situation, you just do it.

“As soon as Arabella came, I felt this wave of relief and I just couldn’t believe how gorgeous she was.

“Chris was so professional and handled the situation really well.

“He gave us all the information and kept us calm.”

Ambulance crews arrived soon after, and took Abigail to Carmarthen’s Glangwili General Hospital, where she was treated for shock before being discharged the following day.

Abigail said: “The whole thing was petrifying because I just never expected to be having the baby at home, but we’re so grateful to Chris for helping us to deliver Arabella safely.”

Chris added: “In your role as a 999 call handler, you’re helping people in their darkest hour, but I’m just glad this call had a happy ending.

“This is the third baby I’ve helped to deliver during my time at the ambulance service, but the first one I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.”

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Covid causes partial school closure at Haverfordwest High VC

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A PARTIAL school closure is in force today at Haverfordwest High VC school after a pupil in year 9 has tested positive for coronavirus.

All students in year 9 must stay at home , isolate and await further instruction while the school completes all of the necessary Track and Trace processes.

In a statement released by the school, they said: “We have been informed that a Year 9 pupil has tested positive for COVID-19.

“We wish them a speedy recovery.

“As a precautionary measure and to enable us to complete all of the necessary Track and Trace processes, the school will be closed to Year 9 Pupils today.

“The school remains open to all other year groups.

“Until further notice, Year 9 students should stay at home and isolate until further instructions are given. Lessons for all other year groups will continue as usual. Unless your child is in Year 9 they should attend school.”

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