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The number of people waiting for NHS treatment in Wales ‘just keeps growing’



HUNDREDS of thousands of patients across Wales are waiting to start NHS treatment.

New figures released today show that in August there was more than 750,000 patient pathways waiting to start treatment with around 589,000 individual patients on treatment waiting lists in Wales.

This is an increase of almost 3,500 patients from the previous month.

Figures released this week continue to show the pressure facing the Welsh Ambulance Service and emergency departments across Wales.

Throughout September the ambulance service 3,553 red (life threatening) calls – which is 10.2 per cent of all calls made.

This is an increase on the immediately life-threatening calls on the previous month.

50% of red calls received an emergency response within 8 minutes, 0.7 percentage points lower than the previous month and the joint lowest on record.

Commenting on today’s figures, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said: “The failure of the Labour Government to prepare for pandemic recovery continues to be felt by the people of Wales as they experience the longest treatment waiting lists, ambulance delays, and A&E waits in Britain.

“This failure to plan for the re-opening of hospitals has meant the delivery of healthcare is out of control – staff are doing their best to cope with demand but a lack of leadership from the centre has meant minister leaving the NHS totally adrift.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said: “Behind these figures are countless human tragedies. In every corner of the country people are frightened, suffering and waiting in pain because our NHS can no longer cope.

“Labour is letting the NHS fall to its knees and patients are paying the price. Wales routinely has the worse health figures in Britain despite all nations facing similar challenges. This cannot go on.

“The Government must come forward with a proper plan to bring down waiting times and recruit and retain more NHS staff. The Welsh Liberal Democrats will continue to call for greater investment in primary healthcare facilities, GPs and social care.

“We must prevent people from getting so ill they require either treatment in A&E or complex treatment paths if we are to reduce pressures on the system, this starts at ensuring people can access their GP easily. We also need to ensure patients can be discharged safely once their treatment is finished.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Progress continues to be made on the longest waits and we have seen a reduction in the number of patient pathways* waiting more than two years for treatment for the fifth month in a row. This is a fall of 16 per cent since the peak in March.

“Thousands of people are still being seen and treated by NHS Wales and there were more than 338,000 consultations carried out in August. We will continue to work with health boards on how we can best support them to meet our planned care targets.

“We saw slightly more people start their cancer treatment in August (1,691) than in the previous month. A total of 13,534 pathways were closed following the patient being informed they did not have cancer, an increase of more than 12% on the previous month and the highest level on record. A huge amount of work, focus, investment and service change is under way in reducing the number of people waiting for cancer treatment and the Health Minister recently met with health boards and trusts to hear their plans about how they are working to bring the waiting lists down.

“August also saw just over 93,000 patient pathways closed, a significant increase from the early stages of the pandemic and 27 per cent higher than for the same month in 2021.

“For diagnostic services, the number of patient pathways waiting decreased to just over 107,000 in August from 110,000 in July. For therapies, the number of patient pathways waiting decreased to just over 67,500 in August.

“Urgent and emergency care staff remain under intense pressure, and we are working with health and social care service leaders to support improvements. We acknowledge ambulance performance is not where we, NHS Wales nor the public expect it to be and we are driving a whole system response to support improvement. We expect health boards to take ownership and immediately reduce ambulance patient handover delays while working with social care services to improve timeliness of patient transfers home from hospital.

“Performance improved against the four-hour and twelve-hour standards and the average (median) time spent in emergency departments shortened slightly. September saw the best performance against the four-hour standard since January 2022 and this is testament to hard working emergency department staff given the ongoing system pressures.”


Haverfordwest: Fire crews attend kitchen fire in Abbots Close



MID and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have issued a statement following a house fire in Abbots Close off Augustine Way in Haverfordwest on Tuesday evening (Jan 31).

The statement reads: “At 7.05pm on Tuesday, January 31st, crews from Haverfordwest and Tenby were called to an incident at Haverfordwest.

“There was a kitchen fire in a private dwelling which was extinguished using 4 breathing apparatus sets, 1 hose reel jet, 1 main jet, 1 positive pressure ventilation fan and short extension ladders.

“The Police and Local Authority were also in attendance.

“Crews left the scene at 8.57pm.”

It is thought there were no injuries as a result of the incident.

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Ferry staff concerned over rumours Pembroke Dock to Rosslare route coming to an end



CONCERNS are growing amongst Irish Ferries staff operating out of Pembroke Dock as rumours continue to circulate that the company is considering abandoning the Pembroke to Rosslare route.

Several sources state that Irish Ferries is to pull out of Wexford (Rosslare) all together.

Several newspapers in Ireland are reporting that Irish Ferries has failed to reply to queries in relation to future of Rosslare route as concern grows among employees

The company has remained tight-lipped on its plans and despite queries by various reporters to both the Irish Ferries media contact and a senior company official in Rosslare, there was no response from Irish Ferries at the time of publication.

A lot of the concern stems from the fact that customers cannot book passage on the Rosslare/Pembroke route beyond May 31st of this year. Potentially this could be related to the expiry of the company’s charter on the ship currently working the route – Blue Star 1.

The Greek passenger ferry, with capacity for 1,500 passengers, 100 freight vehicles and up to 700 cars, was chartered by Irish Ferries in March of 2021. The company has faced a number of issues with the ship and it was detained by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) as recently as December after failing a safety inspection.

It is reported that in the past couple of weeks, Irish Ferries staff members have met with senior management to express their concerns and have also reached out to their union SIPTU to put them on notice.

The lack of information being provided by the company is certainly not doing anything to quell rumours.

This is not the first time Irish Ferries has caused a stir in Rosslare. Back in December of 2018, the company announced its intention to axe its service between Rosslare Europort and France in a move that wax described as “a kick in the teeth” by locals at the time.

Since then, thankfully, fortunes at the Europort have drastically turned in a post-Brexit landscape with the port now nearly handling up to 40 sailings per week.

However, the routes operating between Rosslare and the UK have seen more mixed fortune. With Stena

Line operating a route from Rosslare to Fishguard alongside Irish Ferries’ sailing to Pembroke, there has been some debate as to whether there is the trade to sustain both routes going forward.

Stena Line’s ownership of the port in Fishguard means its likely to want to hang in there, while back in 2021, Irish Ferries only signed a 10-year deal with Pembroke Dock.

We asked Milford Haven Port Authority for their view on the ongoing speculation. A spokesperson at the Port of Milford Haven, said: “We were surprised by these press articles.

“We are unaware of the basis of them; but we can confirm that we renewed our contract with Irish Ferries in 2021 and continue to provide excellent port services to support this important UK and International trade route.”


Calls a year ago (Feb 2022) for Wales to have one ferry port in Pembrokeshire instead of two due to declining trade following Brexit would be a “disaster” for the county, a Senedd candidate  said.

Rosslare in Ireland’s January traffic to the UK was down 49% on last January, with freight direct to the European mainland up 446%.

Glenn Carr, general manager at Rosslare Europort in Ireland, suggested closing either Pembroke Dock or Fishguard ports to compensate.

But the Liberal Democrat Senedd candidate for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire said at the time that would be a “disaster” and called for Welsh Secretary Simon Hart to “take urgent action” to solve the situation.

“Some companies have chosen to take the sea route from Ireland to the European continent rather than going through the UK’s land bridge,” he said.

“They have done this to avoid the trading barriers which have arisen from our hard Brexit. Mr Hart and his government colleagues need to ‘step up to the plate’ and take urgent action to eliminate these trading barriers before we lose one of our precious ferry ports.”

Conservative Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb also has been calling on the UK Government to “get a grip” on the situation.

“There’s now a big fight on to retain competitiveness and win back business that seems to have been lost out of the Welsh ports since the end of the Brexit transition period,” he said.

“So the UK government needs to get a grip on working out simpler, more effective, streamlined procedures for complying with this paperwork, making it less of a headache for doing business through the Welsh ports between the Republic, the UK and the continent.”

Tina Roberts, Welsh Liberal Democrat Senedd Candidate for Preseli Pembrokeshire also said both Fishguard and Pembroke Dock are vital ferry ports to our local community and to local businesses.

“Staff at these ferries have worked very hard to provide an excellent service which also benefits tourism and local trade,” she said.

“The government needs to end its trading barriers with Ireland to avoid the catastrophe of one of these ferries closing.”

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Man sadly passed away in hospital following incident in Haven Drive, Milford Haven



POLICE and ambulance units were despatched to a residential address in Haven Drive, Milford Haven on Friday following a 999 call from a party concerned with the welfare of a male.

Medics attended, and the man was taken to hospital but sadly died the following day.

The air ambulance also attended the incident, landing at the Milford Haven Rugby Club.

A statement was released by Dyfed-Powys Police concerning the incident: “We attended a property in Haven Drive, Milford Haven on Friday 27th January 2023 following a concern raised for the welfare of a man.

“The man was taken to hospital where he passed away on Saturday 28th January 2023.

“The death is not being treated as suspicious and a report will be prepared for the Coroner.”

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