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



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.

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Veteran opens Slimming World in Milford Haven



ARMY Veteran, Rachel, has launched her own Slimming World group in Milford Haven after her own positive experiences. 

“I changed lives in the army and hope to continue changing lives for people in Milford Haven.”

Rachel was born and raised in Milford Haven. As a small child, she was “active and busy” and a real tomboy alongside her brothers. 

In 1998, she joined the Army at 16-years-old as a Combat Medical Technician. Following training, Rachel served in Germany, all over the UK, overseas in Cyprus, and was deployed to Oman, Kosovo, Bosnia and Poland before retiring from service in May 2021.

Her role as a combat medical technician meant she often had to deal with soldiers who had been injured in war zones. Rachel described dealing with the range of injuries as “life-changing”.

Rachel’s job not only consisted of helping soldiers physically recover; she also helped them with their mental well-being. 

She said she: “always pointed out the positives ahead of them for their lives and their families.

“The fulfilment I would get from seeing them recover and their family made whole again is so rewarding, I cannot put it into words.”

She has always been a strong, physically fit person. She enjoyed an active lifestyle and felt as though she “could always eat what she wanted.”

In 2017, she was posted to Harrogate. Rachel was 36 years old and had recently given birth to her third child, a daughter, after already having two sons aged 13 and 5. 

She says she was almost two stone overweight even before her pregnancy. 

Rachel said: “So here I was with four stone to lose. I had lost all confidence and was at a loss.

“I was at a GP surgery when I saw a poster for Slimming World. I was there for my daughter’s first vaccinations and that’s when I decided to join my local Harrogate Slimming World group.”

Rachel said she was welcomed to the group with open arms. She described the members as being lovely, offering to make her a hot drink after being weighed or hold her baby while she got settled into the group. 

It was at this group that Rachel found her love for Food Optimising, which is Slimming World’s unique plan to lose weight and get healthy. 

She swapped takeaway meals for ‘fakeaways’ using recipes she learned from her group. 

After only a week, Rachel had lost 4 lbs and knew this new plan was one she could follow. 

Over the next 10 months, she enjoyed curries, chillis, chips loaded with a variety of toppings and cheese within her daily allowance, and she could still enjoy treats every now and then. 

By June 2018, she had hit her target and lost the whole four stone. She said she “felt amazing!”

Unfortunately, during lockdown, she became a single mum and was at an “all-time low”. She moved back to Pembrokeshire in December 2021 and quickly swapped healthy meals for quick and easy, high-fat processed meals.

Rachel said: “Being stuck in the house with three children during lockdown was hard. 

“As I was working from home with nowhere to go, I found myself mindlessly eating as I was only eating out of boredom. 

“I put almost two stone back on and I was devastated.”

In January 2022, she decided to get into shape again. She joined the local Slimming World group in Johnston. 

Rachel said she had two stone to lose and was determined to return to her target weight. 

She claims she was blown away by the consultant Kelly’s knowledge of the plan and her motivation. 

“She guided me back through the new member talk, reintroduced me to my love of Slimming World and allowed me to fall in love with the plan all over again!” Rachel added. 

“The warm atmosphere and the gentle reminder that the plan can be used for all the family reignited my passion.

“Since January 10, 2022, I have lost one stone and five pounds. I am only two-pounds away from my personal target.”

After talking about Slimming World and the freedom it allows Rachel to have, she joined Slimming World and trained to be a consultant. 

Thanks to her time in the Army, helping those with their physical and mental health, Rachel feels that she would be well suited to helping those achieve their goals. 

She commented: “The training is thorough and covers not only the plan but the psychology of wanting to lose weight. 

“It has totally changed my views on how I shop, cook and eat food, and I hope my drive and motivation will help others to do the same.”

To join Rachel’s Slimming World group, call Rachel on 07391 634033 or visit Milford United Football Club, Marble Hall Road, every Thursday at 5.30pm. 

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Hywel Dda Health Board confirms Bank holiday arrangements



FOLLOWING confirmation that Monday, 19 September, will be a Bank Holiday to mark the Queen’s State Funeral, the Health Board is contacting all patients to confirm or re-arrange their appointments, depending on service availability. Whilst all emergency services will be operating as normal, we need to adjust some elements of our planned care services and prioritise patients with urgent care needs wherever possible.

Our Chemotherapy Units will be operating as normal on Monday and some surgery for urgent cases will take place at our hospitals.

Where appointments need to be re-scheduled, patients are being contacted over the coming days by the relevant team to re-arrange their appointment as quickly as possible. In some cases, this may mean bringing appointments forward to this week. Some face-to-face outpatient appointments will still go ahead, and some may be held as an online/virtual appointment on Monday.

If you have an appointment on Monday, and have not been contacted by 1pm on Friday, please contact the health board’s communication hub on 0300 3038322 or email for further information and guidance. Staff at the communication hub are available to answer calls between 10am-4pm on Saturday, and 10am-3pm on Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday. We are contacting all patients by telephone or text message, please check your telephone for any messages.

As GP surgeries and most Community Pharmacies and Dental services will be closed on Monday, a Bank Holiday out of hours service will be provided. Individuals requiring repeat prescriptions are encouraged to arrange them in advance.

All urgent and emergency care services will continue as normal. If you are unwell and unsure what to do, you can visit the online symptom checker or call NHS 111. The Minor Injury Units at acute hospital sites will be open as usual. Opening hours for community walk-in services can be found on the health board’s website. Please attend an Emergency Department, or call 999, if you have a life-threatening illness or serious injury, such as: 

Severe breathing difficulties 

  • Severe pain or bleeding 
  • Chest pain or a suspected stroke 
  • Serious trauma injuries (e.g., from a car crash). 

We apologise for any inconvenience caused and thank you for your support and patience.

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NHS charity buys £8,000 ultrasound machine for Withybush Hospital



Pictured with the new equipment are Podiatrists Jack Loveday (left) and Conrad Anderson.

THANKS to your donations, Hywel Dda Health Charities has purchased a high-intensity ultrasound machine costing more than £8,000 to help patients at Withybush Hospital. 

The shock wave machine will help patients with muscular and tendon problems and will be used in podiatry, physiotherapy and orthopaedic clinics.

Head of Podiatry Mike Mulroy said: “There is considerable evidence that shock wave, high-intensity ultrasound can be very effective for muscle issues, such as Achilles tendon problems, frozen shoulder, golf and tennis elbow and plantar fasciitis.

“Shockwave therapy delivers shockwaves to an affected area, increasing blood flow and metabolism and accelerating the body’s natural healing process.

“Having this machine located at Withybush Hospital will mean patients can be treated locally, rather than having to travel.

“A huge thank you for the donations which have made this purchase possible as the equipment will make a significant difference to the patient experience.”

If you would like more information on the charity and how you can get involved, go to

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