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Health

Avian flu hits Grassholm seabird colony

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BIRDS on Grassholm are at risk following an outbreak of avian flu.

The disease’s presence in Grassholm’s large wild bird population was confirmed on Wednesday, August 3.

Avian influenza is a highly contagious viral disease.

It affects many species of birds’ respiratory, digestive, or nervous systems.

Some strains of Avian influenza can spread easily and quickly between birds and have a high death rate.

Migratory seabirds and waterfowl are known carriers of avian flu.

The highly pathogenic H5N1 strain originated in the intensive poultry industry in Asia and has since spread into wild bird populations worldwide.

Up until now, the disease had not reached Grassholm.

Sadly, this is no longer the case.

Following a spate of suspicious deaths during a recent RSPB surveillance visit, DEFRA testing confirmed the disease’s presence.

The outbreak is in its early stages, and RSPB are keeping Grassholm under close surveillance and will update the public as and when there is more to tell.

Very rarely infected birds can pass the disease onto humans.

Grassholm is known for its huge colony of northern gannets; the island has been owned since 1947 by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and is one of its oldest reserves.

A National Nature Reserve, Grassholm is the world’s third most important site for gannets.

It serves as a breeding site for 36,000 pairs of gannets and supports around 10 per cent of the world population.

A severe outbreak at a major breeding site would be disastrous, as would the potential for the disease’s spread along the Pembrokeshire coast and the neighbouring islands of Skokholm and Skomer.

At present, the outbreak is small but has the potential to escalate.

You may come across dead or dying gannets (or other seabirds) washed in on beaches around Pembrokeshire.

DO NOT touch these birds, keep dogs away from them, and report to DEFRA on 03459 33 55 77.

Health

Fourty-five nurses recruited from overseas to fill urgent vacancies at local hospitals

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HYWEL DDA Health Board says it has recruited 45 international nurses and plans to increase this number significantly over the coming months.

International nurses have been part of the NHS since its inception in 1948 and continue to play a vital role. Hywel Dda UHB aims at recruiting 100 international nurses this year through the centrally delivered programme with NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership, local health boards and the Welsh Government.

The newly recruited nurses are part of a wider project to enhance and expand the health board’s nursing workforce which will help deliver the best possible care to patients.

The first cohort of 11 nurses arrived in May. The nurses have taken their objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) and are based in Glangwili and Prince Philip hospitals

The second cohort of nurses arrived in June. The group of 19 nurses have also taken their OSCE and are based across Glangwili, Prince Philip and Bronglais hospitals.

The third cohort of nurses arrived in July and are currently undergoing OSCE training in preparation for their examination. The 15 nurses are spread across Glangwili, Prince Philip, Withybush and Bronglais hospitals.

Judith Avan from Nigeria, who works at Bronglais Hospital said: “Living in Wales has been lovely, people are so welcoming, and the weather has been so lovely. I look forward to developing in my career and specialise in respiratory therapy.”

Nabitha Kabeer from India, who works in Glangwili Hospital said: “I’m excited about working with NHS Wales. I look forward to enjoying the beauty of Wales and developing in my career. I want to specialise in Infection control or operating theatre nursing or forensic nursing.”

Oyebola Opemipo Tikolo from Nigeria, who works in Glangwili Hospital said: “It has been a nice experience on and off the ward, the people are friendly and helpful. I am looking forward to developing in my career by taking more courses, I also look forward to bringing my family over and settling down here. I intend to specialise in midwifery as I have experience in midwifery from my country.”

The UHBs approach to attracting and retaining its employees is to be a value-based organisation.

Director of Workforce and OD Lisa Gostling said: “We continuously work together to be the best we can be as we strive to develop and deliver excellent services, putting people at the heart of everything we do. We want to attract a diverse workforce and are delighted to welcome the newly recruited nurses to the Hywel Dda family.”

If you wish to be kept informed about jobs in Hywel Dda UHB, please follow SwyddiHywelDdaJobs on Facebook or Twitter.

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Health

Calls for clarity on Monkeypox vaccination programme in Wales

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THE WELSH LIBERAL DEMOCRATS have called on the Welsh Government to offer clarity on its approach to vaccination against the Monkeypox virus in Wales. The calls come after there has been confusion over the approach of the Welsh Government compared to the approach in England.

Monkeypox is an infectious viral disease related to Smallpox that usually causes mild symptoms, although death estimates range from 1%-10% and the disease can be more harmful to those with weak immune systems.

The virus is currently seeing an outbreak in the UK with over 2,000 cases seen so far. The outbreak has spread to over 75 countries with the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaring a global health emergency. In Wales the number of cases stood at 24 as of July 21.

Although no vaccine for Monkeypox currently exists, the Smallpox vaccine has proved effective against the virus as they come from the same family.

On June 22, the Welsh Health Minister, Eluned Morgan MS, issued a statement outlining that the UK Health Security Agency recommended the implementation of a vaccine strategy for those most at risk of catching the virus, including men who have sex with men and healthcare workers who work in sexual health services.

However, there has been confusion over the rollout, with those concerned told not to come forward for the vaccine until they are contacted.

Meanwhile in England, multiple clinics have made already made the vaccine available and multiple walk-in clinics have been set up in London.

Calling for more decisive action, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said: “We really need to see more clarity from the Welsh Government on its plans to ensure those are more likely to be at risk from catching Monkeypox are able to get vaccinated.

“Stating that those on a PrEP prescription will be contacted is fine, but what about the large numbers of susceptible people who are not on PrEP? In some health boards such as Powys PrEP still isn’t available, which is a problem within itself.

“Given the speed in which the virus is spreading, what we really need to see is vaccines to be made available in clinics across Wales and for walk in appointments also to be made available.

“I would also like the Welsh Government what it is doing to address the limited supply of the MVA vaccine. It is vital that these concerns are clarified to give those at risk peace of mind.”

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Health

Health Minister announces pay rise for NHS Wales staff, but Conservatives unimpressed

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THE HEALTH MINISTER Eluned Morgan has accepted the recommendations of NHS pay review bodies and is today announcing a pay rise for NHS staff in Wales.

The recommendation of the NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB), for all NHS staff on Agenda for Change terms and conditions – including nurses, cleaners, porters, healthcare support workers and healthcare professionals, is for a £1,400 pay rise on most pay grades.

But the Welsh Conservatives are not impressed.

Speaking on Friday, Welsh Conservative Shadow Finance Minister Peter Fox MS told this newspaper: “It’s taken the Labour Government till the end of the week to make up their minds on what to do – keeping our NHS workers in limbo, whilst Labour pick political fights with the UK Government.

“Whilst I welcome that NHS pay is being increased in line with the recommendations from the independent panel, the Labour Government has been guaranteed an additional £2.5 billion a year in their budgets.

“It’s a shame that the Welsh Government are choosing the wrong priorities such as wasting money on buying up farms, more politicians or stifling the Welsh economy with their road building freeze, instead of supporting our Welsh NHS.”

But the Health Minister said the Welsh Government will implement this recommendation on top of the Real Living Wage top-up previously announced, which came into effect in April.

For the lowest paid staff (bands 1 to 4), which make up nearly half of the Agenda for Change workforce, this will on average equate to a 7.5% pay rise on pay grades.

The starting salary for the lowest paid roles in band 1 and the bottom of band 2 in NHS Wales will now be £20,758, this equates to a pay rise of 10.8% this financial year for this band and would make Wales the highest paying UK nation for the lowest pay bands in the NHS.

For staff at the top of band 6 and in band 7, the £1,400 payment will be enhanced to be equivalent to a 4% pay rise.

Following a series of meetings with trade unions and representative bodies this week, the Welsh Government has committed to continue to explore a range of other issues raised as part of those discussions.

The Health Minister has also agreed the recommendations of the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body (DDRB) to increase pay by 4.5% for junior doctors, consultants, GPs and dentists employed directly by the health boards.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan told The Herald: “We are committed to working in social partnership and will continue to use our social partnership structures and bring together trade unions, employers and government to deliver the best possible outcomes for our NHS staff. I want to thank trade unions and representative bodies for taking the time to meet me this week and for the constructive discussions we have had.

“Our NHS staff have worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic to keep us all safe and they continue to provide an incredible service in the face of intense pressures.

“I hope this pay award goes some way to recognise their hard work but without additional funding from the UK Government, there are inevitably limits to how far we can go in Wales. We continue to press them to pass on the full funding necessary for fair pay rises for public sector workers.

“We are all facing a cost-of-living crisis. We have structured this pay award so the lowest paid staff in the NHS would see the biggest uplift in their pay, equivalent to a 10.8% pay rise, making the NHS in Wales the highest-paying UK nation for staff in the lowest pay bands.”

Despite not being within the DDRB’s remit, specialty and specialist doctors on the 2021 contract will receive a one-off £1,400 payment in recognition of the unprecedented cost-of-living crisis. Specialty doctors on the 2008 contract will receive a 4.5% pay increase, but those on the top pay grade in the 2008 contract will receive a one-off payment equivalent to 4.5%.

The recommended 4.5% pay uplift in pay for contracted GPs and dentists is subject to overall contract changes by the General Medical and General Dental Services and negotiations are ongoing.

The Health Minister has made clear that staff working within general practice, dental teams and community pharmacies across Wales should receive a fair, proportionate and equitable pay uplift.

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