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Protestors: ‘Health meeting is a load of bull’

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portestWITHYBUSH Hospital’s Conference Centre was the scene of protests on Thursday as the Local Health Board held its first executive board meeting in the county since confirming its intention to proceed with the imminent transfer of vital services from Haverfordwest to Carmarthen. Ahead of the meeting, the Herald spoke to some of those gathered outside: Heather Scammell from Haverfordwest told us: “It’s vitally important that we retain core services at Withybush. Carmarthen is just too far to get to in an emergency and I know from my own experience how vitally important it is to get there quickly when push comes to shove. “When he was 13, my son collapsed into a diabetic coma. He was rushed to A&E at Withybush and I was told he wouldn’t have made it in time to get to Carmarthen. He was in a paediatric ward for a week, in a high dependency unit and then on to an ordinary ward. He had open access to that ward as a child. “I could get there in five minutes, if there were subsequent problems. It was a safe environment for him to be treated in. If A&E had been reduced to a 12 hour service, my son would be dead. “My husband died in the intensive care unit five years ago; they are talking about reducing critical care. The three weeks he was there I could stay there and get there quickly. It was such an important part of his being ready to die and me coming to terms with what was happening. If he had died on the way to Glangwili I would probably still be in pieces. “We were also able to donate his organs which I regarded as so important, it helped me so much. We and the recipients of the organs would have been denied that. Just because they have decided to apply an urban model into a rural area where we don’t have the infrastructure. We do not trust the Health Board or the Welsh Assembly Government. “I think it’s partly a money saving issue and they have this model – everything is ‘sucked’ to Carmarthen. The roads deteriorate as you cross the border (into Pembrokeshire). Carmarthen voted them (the Assembly) in – we didn’t. “A hospital contributes so much to the economy. People, staff, will have to move away. The knock on effect will be massive. Already I know of one couple who have chosen not to retire down here because they don’t trust the Health Board to provide the health care they need. My mother was ill recently and I felt I couldn’t bring her down here. I no longer have the confidence it would have been safe to bring her down from Stafford.” Moira Lewis of Goodwick was even more trenchant in her criticism: “This is the slippery slope of downgrading Withybush Hospital”. Discussing whether the Board would address protestors’ concerns she said: “I walked out in disgust as I could see it was a whitewash and they were only here to put over only what they were going to do. They hadn’t taken any notice of the letters they had received, or the demonstrations. “I walked out when they started saying they were going to give evidence of a patient experience in Withybush, that had nothing to do with the cuts, it was about a woman with diabetes, how she arrived in hospital etc etc. “I said this has got nothing to do with what is going on in Withybush, this is a load of bull, it’s disgraceful – you haven’t listened to anybody and taken no notice of demonstrations. They (the Health Board) are determined to put through whatever changes they have suggested no matter what, to the detriment of people in the county and people will suffer as a result and there could be deaths. “It’s like we are becoming a third world country here. I don’t know what we can do – the Court of Human Rights maybe – we must discuss that with the SWAT committee.” The Pembrokeshire Herald can reveal that a key element of the muchvaunted “safety net” announced by Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford is still not finalised. The Special Care Baby Unit is due to close on August 4. An advertisement to crew the 24/7 single ambulance that will replace emergency maternity admissions in Withybush has a closing date 24 hours afterwards. That advertisement indicates that the Board is seeking 12 paramedic staff to replace inpatient consultant-led services for emergency mother and baby admissions, offering salaries of between £21,424 and £27,901 for a twelve month secondment. The fact that the secondment is only of one year’s duration adds fuel to concerns that the Board, which has not yet even begun to build the midwifeled unit scheduled for Withybush, and might seek to renege on its pledge to retain maternity services at the hospital. The Herald has been told by hospital staff that they have been told that if there are problems in delivering a midwife-led service at Haverfordwest, the Maternity Unit will close. The Herald also understands from hospital staff members that the Board has told them that they must transfer to Glangwili without compensation when their duties are redeployed or they will be deemed to have “voluntarily” left the Board’s employment. In a separate story the Herald asked the Health Board to comment on the rumoured withdrawal of the Out of Hours Doctors Service at South Pembs. The Board responded to our request and a spokesperson told us: “The rumour is not true. The service at South Pembrokeshire Hospital has not been withdrawn. We do regularly have an Out of Hours GP based there on a Saturday and Sunday mornings. Recently, due to ongoing shortages of GPs, there have been occasions when this has been unable to happen. On these occasions, the out of hours service is still available at Withybush Hospital.”

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Charity

Calls for help over VHF radio may have been a hoax, say RNLI

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THE ANGLE All-Weather Lifeboat was requested to launch on service at 10:23am this morning, Monday (July 22).

Following a call to the Coastguard from Milford Haven VTS, the crew were tasked after the VTS operators overheard a female voice calling for help on VHF channel 12.

After narrowing down the transmission to having been received on the Pembroke aerial site, the crew were requested to conduct a search.

Launching at 10:30am, the lifeboat made best speed to the moorings at Hazelbeach, and a hasty search was requested by the Coastguard of any moored vessels. The crew began making their way amongst the moorings, heading up to the moorings off Neyland. With nothing untoward sighted, the crew proceeded to search the moorings off Hobbs Point, Barnlake Point, Burton, Llanion and Rudders Boat Yard.

With nothing found, the Coastguard requested that the crew continue their search up river to Picton Point. The lifeboat continued searching up the western shore encompassing Llangwm before altering course just past Landshipping and searching the eastern shore back down the river, calling in to Lawrenny on the way to check any vessels moored there.

The RNLI said that the search continued back down as far as the Cleddau Bridge.

On Facebook the organisation posted :”Following a thorough visual, communications and radar search the crew were subsequently stood down when no further information or calls had been received.

“The tasking was therefore deemed to be a hoax call.

“The lifeboat was back alongside and readied for further service by 1pm.”

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Crime

Police investigating after man injured during altercation in cemetery

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POLICE have confirmed that they are investigating a report of an altercation which occurred in the cemetery off Gelliswick Road, Hakin, Milford Haven sometime between 4.30 and 5.00pm, Wednesday 17th July, 2024.

Following the incident, a 32-year-old man went to hospital for treatment and was later released.

A 19-year-old male has been arrested on suspicion of assault and released on bail pending further police enquiries police have confirmed.

The incident caught the attention of locals, who said there was a large police response to the incident included armed officers.

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing [email protected], or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Quote reference: 394 of the 17th

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org

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Crime

West Wales man jailed for rape after victim’s cries heard

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A WEST WALES man has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison for raping a woman in an attack that ended only when her cries for help were heard by others. Charlie Evans, a 22-year-old former Exeter University student, ignored his victim’s repeated pleas for him to stop during the 45-minute ordeal.

The incident took place after Evans and his victim had attended a party, where both had been drinking. The court heard that after kissing, the pair left together, with the woman under the impression that Evans lived in a flat with her friend.

Upon returning to the flat, the woman used the toilet before Evans raped her, despite her repeatedly saying no. The prosecutor described the victim as crying hysterically and added: “She did not want these things to happen.”

During the attack, one student testified they could hear the victim not consenting and begging Evans to stop. Another person said they were so concerned they inquired about what was happening.

Police were alerted after the incident was reported to campus staff, who then contacted the emergency services. Evans was told to leave his flat and was subsequently removed from the university. He denied the offence during his police interview.

Evans, of Victoria Avenue, Mumbles, Swansea, was convicted earlier this year at Exeter Crown Court of rape and sexual assault. He was sentenced on July 12. In a victim statement, the woman said her life had been forever changed by Evans’s actions. She expressed feelings of fear, confusion, and shame during the incident and continues to suffer from nightmares. She now feels distrustful of men and has sought support to cope with her trauma, the court heard.

Christopher Quinlan KC, defending, presented multiple good character references for Evans, describing him as a “kind and respectful” young man who was “always positive, compassionate and thoughtful.” He argued that his client’s life was “in ruins” as a result of his actions.

However, Judge Stephen Climie told Evans he had “completely misrepresented” his victim’s position, adding: “She was so far away from wishing to engage in your sexual activity that the only explanation for your attitude and approach was alcohol that blinded you to what was clearly and obviously the word ‘No’.” He continued: “So far as your life is concerned you will be crushed as a result of the sentence I’m required to impose.”

Following the sentencing, DC Michele Hicks from Devon and Cornwall Police’s major crime investigation team praised the victim for her courage and resilience throughout the investigation. She said: “I hope this case reassures the community how seriously the police take reports of sexual violence against women and girls and gives people the courage to come forward in future.”

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