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New hospital sites to be reviewed by appraisal group

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PEOPLE from communities across the three counties will next week help score five potential sites for a new hospital in a zone including and between Narberth and St Clears, the Health Board have suddenly announced.

The move is at odds with the wishes of the people of Pembrokeshire who have been campigning to save Withybush Hospital. There are concerns that a hospital further away from Haverfordwest would be too far away in emergencies, and would cause locals unnecessary travel.

The healthboard said that a workshop being held on Tuesday (Jun 28) will be the second of two technical sessions with members of the public, staff and partners.

But campaigners are saying proper consulation is not taking place.

According to the Health Board, the first workshop, held in May, agreed the ‘weighting’ of the seven technical criteria to be used in this scoring process.

The potential sites to be reviewed are:

  • Agricultural land and buildings forming part of Kiln Park Farm which is located to the north of Narberth train station and adjacent to the A478, approximately 1km to the north-east of Narberth town centre.
  • Agricultural land located to the north-east of Whitland town centre and situated between the A40 to the north, Whitland Rugby Club to the east and Spring Gardens to the south.
  • Agricultural land and buildings forming part of Ty Newydd Farm which is located to the east of the Old Whitland Creamery site and Whitland town centre.
  • Agricultural land and buildings forming part of Penllyne Court located between Whitland and St Clears just outside Pwll-Trap. The site lies between the Swansea-Haverfordwest railway line to the north and the A40 to the south.
  • Agricultural land at old Bryncaerau fields, located adjacent to the junction of the A40 and A477 in St Clears, between the A4066 (Tenby Road) to the south, the village of Pwll Trap to the north and the A40 to the west.

The Health Board argues that all sites are in a zone that is the most central location for the majority of the population in the south of the Hywel Dda area and was determined through public consultation.

The upcoming workshop will apparently involve the scoring by a majority public representation being drawn from across our region and including participants with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.

The Health Board has given assurances it will not close Withybush Hospital. The promise came in response to a petition to retain A&E at Withybush Hospital reached 10,000 signatures back in April.

Speaking then, Lee Davies, director of strategic development and operational planning for Hywel Dda, said the board are aware of the ‘passion’ and ‘strength’ of feeling around the long-term strategy titled ‘A Healthier Mid and West Wales: Our Future Generations Living Well’, which includes plans to build a new hospital on a site as yet unconfirmed believed to be somewhere in the St Clears area.

Mr Davies called the proposed changes a ‘once-in-a-life-time investment’ into the health care services in west Wales.

Mr Davies said: “Our ambition is to move from a service that treats illness to one that keeps people well, prevents ill-health or worsening of ill health, and provides any help you need early on.

“We can also reassure the public that we have no plans or intention to close Withybush Hospital.

“We fully understand the passion and strength of feeling that exists in our communities.

“We share that passion, along with a commitment, to deliver the best possible care and services for people who live in mid and west Wales.”  

Supporters of the petition, which having reached 10,000 signatures will now be considered for debate by the Petitions Committee at the Senedd, say they will not let Hywel Dda ‘trample on them’.

Today, following the latest announcement on sites, Lee Davies said: “The health board has been committed to undertaking significant engagement with our communities. This partnership has brought us a step closer to selecting a site for the new hospital, so I am grateful to participants for their involvement in this important part of the process to identify the best hospital sites.

“The outputs from this workshop will be considered by the Board in August, along with the findings from other appraisal groups that are currently ongoing. These appraisal groups are currently reviewing matters covering clinical, workforce and economic / financial issues.

“The final decision about the chosen site will be made by the health board, in agreement with Welsh Government, should they support the funding of the hospital.”

The health board says its ambition is to bring opportunities to provide a wider range of specialist health services to our communities within the boundaries of Hywel Dda than is currently possible.

There is, however, the Board says is an important continued role for Withybush and Glangwili hospitals, which will operate as local community hospitals, with ambulatory services, therapy and nurse-led beds, focusing on rehabilitation and less acute needs. The aim is for most people to receive their care locally and only stay in the new Planned and Urgent Care Hospital when really necessary for acute care and when possible to be transferred back to their homes or to closer hospitals if they need a period of rehabilitation. We plan to have 24/7 minor injury units at Glangwili and Withybush hospitals, based on the successful Prince Phillip Hospital minor injury unit.

Steadfast: Pembrokeshire firmly backs retaining Withybush Hospital and its services (Pic Herald)

The health board said does not intend to make changes at Glangwill or Withybush hospitals until the new hospital is built (we think the new Urgent and Planned Care Hospital will take until at least the end of 2029 to open).

They promised regular engagement – listening and working with our communities, and our partner organisations, and possibly consultation on parts of the programme.

However campaigners say that proper engagement is not happening.

A spokesperson from the Save Withybush Campaign told The Herald: “Under the Future Generations Act they are legislatively obligated to engage in co-production with residents before making any decisions regarding changes to services. 

“This includes vulnerable groups, people without cars, and especially those who will be most affected by the proposed changes.

“We know from our research that they have not done that. 

“They have conducted piecemeal consultations which have not used the correct methodology. And they certainly have not actively reached out to the people who would be most affected by this – should these changes ever go ahead.”

Meanwhile, Pembrokeshire County Councillors are due to meet with health board representatives to find out more about the future of care and the implications for Withybush Hospital next month.

A Notice of Motion has been tabled by Haverfordwest’s John Cole raising concerns about the loss of services and the “downgrading” of the county’s general hospital.

People from all over Pembrokeshire were at recent protests (Pic: Herald)

It was due for discussion at Thursday’s (June 16) social care overview and scrutiny committee but members decided to postpone its consideration until a planned seminar with Hywel Dda University Health Board was held, with a provisional date of July 4 referenced.

Clr. Cole’s motion states: “With the recently published declaration of the Hywel Dda Health Board on the future of Pembrokeshire’s only general hospital I would like to ask the council to stand with our electorate in supporting the fight to retain services essential to the health and well-being of residents.

“Many of our residents feel the council, particularly us elected members, are, or appear, indifferent to the concerns being expressed. I believe in doing such.

“We can show that councillors are united and stand with the people of Pembrokeshire we were elected to serve’. would be showing diligence that the best price available is received.”

He tabled the motion in March, adding “I’m sure all members are as concerned with the prospect of losing services and the downgrading of our General Hospital Withybush. This is why I brought my NOM before the council.”

Commenting on Hywel Dda’s designation of five possible future sites, Samuel Kurtz MS, said: “After many years, the Health Board have finally confirmed the five potential sites of the new hospital.

“We now need an honest, detailed, and transparent conversation about the potentials of each of these sites, both positive and negative. This is why this consultation is so important.

“Our local communities should be central to this decision-making process, engagement is key. It’s vital that every local resident has a say in this matter.

“Concerns remain strong in the community regarding access to an A&E department if it is further away. The Welsh Labour Government and the Health Board must answer these concerns honestly, and if they can’t, then maintaining the current services with investment at their locations must also be an option.

“We want to see all of Pembrokeshire and all Carmarthenshire served by a top-class health service which is accessible to all residents.”

News

New mobile visitor centre ready to help visitors gear up for the Pembrokeshire Coast

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Park Authority Ranger Richard Vaughan and Summer Ranger Megan Holt with the new information van at Poppit Sands.

PEOPLE visiting some of Pembrokeshire’s top beaches and events may soon encounter a new mobile information centre, with a specially converted van ready to hit the road and help people enjoy their visit.

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s new information van will be set up at seaside locations and popular local events, with Rangers on hand to give advice to those who need help and suggest free activities for those looking to discover the area’s wildlife.

National Park Authority Ranger Service Manager, Libby Taylor said: “This new vehicle will help our staff provide a range of information at locations where we know many people head to enjoy the National Park.

“As well as helping people learn more about the area and the different ways they can make the most of their visit, people can also find out how they can make the least impact on the Park during their stay.

“As well as having an awning to provide shelter, the van also includes space for magnetic panels that can be changed so the information that’s most relevant to the location or event can be provided.”

The vehicle, which has been converted by local company Poppit Campers, also includes a solar panel, which will help to power two iPads, which will give members of the public a chance to find further information on subjects such as nearby walks and wildlife identification.

The purchase and conversion of the vehicle was made possible through the support of the Welsh Government.

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Community

Deadline approaching for £500 payment to unpaid carers

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THE DEADLINE to apply for a one-off £500 payment to eligible unpaid carers in Wales is rapidly approaching.

The Welsh Government scheme, administered by Pembrokeshire County Council, is open to all unpaid carers in Wales who were in receipt of Carers Allowance on 31 March 2022.

The deadline to apply is 5pm on 15th July 2022 and those who believe they are eligible are urged not to miss out.

The Council is also sending out 400 letters this week to those they believe may be eligible and who have not yet applied.

The payment is in recognition of the increased financial pressures many unpaid carers experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic and to help with some of the additional costs they have incurred. 

The payment is targeted towards those individuals who care for someone for at least 35 hours a week and have low incomes.

You will not be eligible for the payment if:

  • You have an underlying entitlement to Carers Allowance but do not receive a payment because you are in receipt of another benefit at the same or higher rate; or
  • You only receive the carer premium  

If you have already applied please be assured the Council is working its way through the applications as quickly as possible.

How to apply

Applicants (this should be the person in receipt of carer’s allowance)

are required to complete the online form at: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/grants/unpaid-carers-500-pound-payment

Required information is:

  • Your name, address, telephone number and email address
  • Date of Birth
  • National Insurance Number
  • Post code
  • A bank statement showing your name, address, account number and sort code

If you are having problems completing the on-line application form please email: UnpaidCarers@pembrokeshire.gov.uk alternatively call 01437 764551 for assistance.

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Crime

Lola James: Two people have denied charges in connection of the death of 2-year-old

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TWO people who have been charged in connection with the death of a Haverfordwest toddler have denied charges.

30-year-old Kyle Bevan of Aberystwyth, denied a charge of murder at Swansea Crown Court.

Lola’s mum Sinead James, 29, denied a charge of causing or allowing the death of a child.

Lola died in Hospital on July 21, 2020, four days after sustaining a severe head injury at her home address in Princess Royal Way, Haverfordwest.

Bevan was remanded into custody.

James was released on conditional bail.

The trial will take place in 2023 and Judge Thomas said it is expected to last four weeks.

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