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Good news for patients: Fresh approach rescues GP practice in Johnston



NEW and late information available to the Health Board relating to accommodating GP services in the Neyland and Johnston Medical Practice means that a decision to move Johnston patients to practices in Haverfordwest and Milford Haven has been scrapped.

The Board’s Vacant Practice Panel had recommended the immediate closure of the Johnston Surgery, with patients there re-registered in practices in Milford and Haverfordwest at the end of October.

Local GPs, pharmacies, community councils, and patients vehemently objected to the plan.

However, until the new information arrived, the Board was certain to follow the Panel’s recommendation.

However, the Board heard that a fresh proposal involving alternative premises, the possible recruitment of more GPs, and fresh provision on a new model gave the Board the chance to avoid dispersing patients in Johnston elsewhere.

The Board will establish a new practice to cover all 6,000 patients registered and will review the Vacant Practice Panel procedure.

The Board acknowledged retaining a 6,000-patient practice was a risk but that keeping a practice of that size would be more attractive to new GPs.

The key submission to the Board came from Community Interest Care CIC, a group including a former deputy director of the Health Board, business stakeholders, and input from the Council’s Director of Social Services, Jonathan Griffiths.

Member of the CIC, Cllr Paul Miller, told The Herald the Board deserved praise for listening to the strong concerns of patients and other practices about retaining a consolidated service.

He said: “Since the Vacant Panel process, it has become apparent that there are opportunities to use alternative premises, and additional GPs have come forward to support the practice in the short term.
“Given that maintaining the full list of 6000 patients will support the medium-long term sustainability of the practice, we can now commit to maintaining the list at 6000 patients.

“I’m very pleased that Hywel Dda Health Board’s meeting today confirmed the recommendation to manage the Neyland GP Practise for 12 months directly.

“Their decision gives us the breathing space we need to develop a sustainable, long-term plan for maintaining GPs’ services.”

He continued: “I was also pleased to note that the Health Board rejected the recommendation to disperse the patient list from Johnston.

“That’s really good news in my view for the long-term viability of the practice, and I’d like to put on record my thanks to the Health Board for listening to the concerns I, many patients, the LMC and the neighbouring practices raised.

“We’ve now got 12 months to come up with a plan to sustain the service long term and I look forward to working constructively with the Health Board to make sure we do.”

Neyland Town Council welcomed Thursay’s decision by the Board of the Hywel Dda University Health Board to retain the full patient list currently held by the Neyland and Johnston Surgery, and to run the Practice as a whole as a Health Board ‘managed practice.’

In an official statemenet the council said: “We appreciate that a ‘managed practice’ is not the ideal solution for any Practice, but as an interim measure to allow time for an alternative GP services provider to put forward a viable business case, the Board’s bold and sensible decision in light of new information not to accept the initial Vacant Practice Panels recommendation to disperse the patient list, will certainly be welcomed by Neyland’s community, as well as the communities in Johnston and other areas surrounding Neyland.

“The decision to maintain the existing patient list of approximately 6000 patients is important to the long-term future of the Practice, and is something that Neyland Town Councillors have been calling for since meeting with Members of Hywel Dda’s management team on the 11th August 2022. Removing the immediate uncertainty around the future of the Practice will go some way to address the concerns and worries of our community, regarding obtaining Health Care Services locally, in line with a stated aim of the Board. Neyland Town Council would urge Hywel Dda UHB to fully engage with alternative providers, as the Vacant Practice Panel suggested in their report to the Board and indeed in today’s meeting and would ask them to explore all avenues available to secure the long-term future and success of the Neyland and Johnston GP Surgery.

“Moving forward, to address concerns raised in today’s meeting regarding the process followed by the Vacant Practice Panel, if faced with a similar situation again we would ask that the Board seriously consider automatically moving a vacant practice to a ‘managed practice’ for a set period of a minimum of 12 months. A proposal previously made by Neyland Town Council in the 11th August meeting. This would provide some security for surgery staff and importantly remove immediate concerns of the patient base, while allowing the Vacant Practice Panel sufficient time to explore every avenue, which would be in addition to their already extensive workload.”


Care is Apprenticeship Ambassador Elen’s true vocation



ELEN LEWIS is developing a career in health and social care thanks to a bilingual Foundation Apprenticeship opportunity provided by Blaenmarlais Care Home in Narberth.

Elen, 19, who lives in Narberth, believes care is her true vocation and may consider training to become a hospital nurse in the future.

Due to her passion for the Welsh language and apprenticeships, she has been appointed an Apprenticeship Ambassador by Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol (CCC) and the National Training Federation of Wales (NTfW).

Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol leads the development of Welsh medium and bilingual education and training in the post-compulsory sector in Wales and the NTfW represents work-based learning providers across Wales.

She began working at Blaenmarlais Care Home 18 months ago, having previously taken a Health and Social Care Level 3 course at Pembrokeshire College. She is now completing her Foundation Apprenticeship in Health and Social Care through City & Guilds, delivered by the same college and hopes to progress to a Level 3 Apprenticeship.

Happy speaking in both Welsh and English to improve her language skills, Elen said: “I love my job because it’s so rewarding to care for our residents and develop a relationship with them. A couple of them enjoy having a conversation in Welsh.

She is proud to be an Apprenticeship Ambassador because, she says, it gives her a chance to promote the Welsh language: “I like apprenticeships because they allow people to earn while they learn, which is one of the main reasons I was not interested in going to university.

“Welsh medium and bilingual apprenticeships provide an opportunity to learn in the language of your choice and encourages the use of the Welsh language, which is important.

“We have spoken Welsh in my family for generations and it’s a unique language to our country and should be preserved. It’s a real bonus when you go into a job and you have an opportunity to speak both Welsh and English.”

Helen Hill is deputy manager of Blaenmarlais Care Home, which has 22 residents and 30 staff, including four apprentices. Despite only two residents speaking Welsh, she thinks it’s important that they are able to converse in the language of their choice.

“We support the opportunity for our staff to do bilingual apprentices if they wish,” she said. “I am one of five members of staff who speak Welsh and am proud of the language and my heritage.”

Janice Morgan, Pembrokeshire College’s Welsh language development officer, has taken on an extra role as bilingual support tutor, funded by Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol.

“Elen is an excellent Apprenticeship Ambassador and fully realises the importance of using her Welsh language skills in her work setting when speaking to residents and staff in their first language,” she said.

Lisa Mytton, the NTfW’s strategic director, said: “Many workplaces are becoming more bilingual, so completing an apprenticeship bilingually or in Welsh can increase an individual’s confidence to work in both languages and their employability.

“Our Apprenticeship Ambassadors are excellent role models for apprenticeships, highlighting the benefits of learning and working bilingually in the workplace.”

Elin Williams, from the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, said: “This is the third year running that we have appointed ambassadors for the apprenticeship sector, and we think this is a vital tool in showing people that it is possible to continue with your bilingual learning through the apprenticeship route.

“With the Welsh Government’s target to reach one million Welsh speakers by 2050, it has never been more important to develop your bilingual skills and increase your employability prospects.”

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

To find out more about apprenticeship opportunities go to Careers Wales or telephone 0800 028 4844.

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How to keep your children smiling with regular dental visits



WE KNOW that seeing a child’s happy, healthy smile can brighten up a parent’s day. We also know that juggling work, school commitments, kids’ activities and behaviour can make it difficult to help your children to establish an oral health routine – especially if they’re reluctant to brush (which they often are!).
Regular dental visits help children get into a good oral health routine, as well as ensuring that any problems or signs of tooth decay are detected at an early stage. As dental professionals, we at Elegant Dental Care are aware of the worrying state of the oral health of young people in the UK, and are ready and able to help reinforce the importance of good diet and oral hygiene habits.
Almost a third of children in the UK have had between one and five fillings, and one in ten children have missed a full day of school due to tooth decay. Extractions remain high in children who have had tooth decay. Almost 1 in 4 children have cavities and of these nearly half nearly end up with an extraction, the majority of which have to be done in hospital.*
Did you know damage to children’s baby teeth can cause problems for adult teeth in the future? Here are some top tips to help establish a good oral health routine and equip your child with healthy habits for life when it comes to their mouth, teeth and gums.
As part of an oral health routine, we recommend that children brush for two minutes, twice a day with fluoride toothpaste suitable for their age group.
Children often hurry when brushing their teeth. Tiredness, general reluctance and lack of time are among the most common problems parents experience when helping their children to establish an effective oral health routine. Many parents find brushing their child’s teeth for them is the most effective way to help them learn how to brush.
A toothbrush timer is a great investment as younger children don’t always have a concept of what two minutes feels like. There are lots of timers available from cheap sand timers to fun electric ones. There are also some great brushing apps available that you can download for free.
For begrudging brushers try a brushing reward chart so they can plot their progress and see the results of their good work.
And if you’ve not already done so, here’s your reminder to book your child’s next dental appointment. At Elegant Dental Care we offer dental plans for children, from £5.80 a month. Our plans include check-ups, restorative treatment, advice and preventive care. Call 01646 681114 email today.

*Denplan Consumer Oral Health Survey 2021

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Call for more funding for NHS pay in Wales



THE UK GOVERNMENT has been urged to increase the amount of funding available for NHS pay.

Ahead of the Autumn statement, Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and Welsh Health Minister Eluned Morgan have written to UK Health Secretary Steve Barclay to ask for additional funding to help avert strike action this winter in the NHS.

The letter reads: “We wanted to write to you in advance of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on 17th November to once again make the case for additional funding for our hardworking NHS staff.

“In recent weeks the Deputy First Minister of Scotland and the Welsh Government Minister for Finance and Local Government have written to His Majesty’s Treasury to make clear the need for additional funding for public services.

“The Royal College of Nursing have announced a sweeping legal mandate for industrial action across the UK. In Scotland, they have joined several other unions representing NHS staff in gaining a legal mandate for industrial action with ballots expected to confirm a mandate in the rest of the UK.

“The risk to the NHS of industrial action this winter is profound, and we all need to do all we can to avert industrial action in any form. The NHS across the UK continues to feel the effects of the pandemic as it recovers and remobilises, and any action is likely to have catastrophic effects in all parts of the UK.

“We are experiencing a cost of living crisis and the anger of NHS staff is entirely understandable. Sky rocketing inflation combined with high interest rates, a direct result of the havoc caused by the UK Government’s mini-budget, means that we are simply unable to come close to matching the expectations of NHS staff across the country. While the support provided by the UK Government on areas such as support for energy bills is welcome, it has not gone nearly far enough.

“Media reports suggest that the Chancellor is considering reimposing austerity on the people of the UK again, for which there is no mandate, through extensive spending cuts. That would be a disaster for our public services, including the NHS, at a time when they need more investment, not less.

“We would therefore implore you to work with us to make the case to the Chancellor in advance of his Autumn Statement for increased funding for the NHS and the devolved governments as a whole, primarily to pay our hard working NHS staff a fair pay rise in the face of the cost of living crisis this winter, and avoid what could be catastrophic industrial action in the NHS.”

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