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Mother-of-two died ‘because ambulance didn’t get to her on time’, says family

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A FAMILY has been left grieving after a 40-year-old woman died on New Year’s Eve despite repeated attempts by her 15-year-old daughter to call medical assistance.

Mother-of-two Charlotte Burston knew that her health was rapidly deteriorating on Christmas morning when she began experiencing severe tingling sensations in one of her arms.

But despite repeated attempts to call urgent medical assistance, Charlotte’s daughter’s requests remained unanswered.

Charlotte Burston: Family say she died after an ambulance failed to reach her in time

Eventually, as Charlotte’s condition continued to deteriorate, another family member decided to drive to Charlotte’s property in Llanteg and convey her to Withybush General Hospital by car.  But shortly after commencing their journey, Charlotte Burston suffered a major heart attack from which she never gained consciousness. 

On New Year’s Eve, Charlotte Burston was pronounced dead.

A post mortem concluded that the cause of her death was hypoxic brain injury, which is a lack of oxygen to the brain. 

“If an ambulance had got to Charlotte within 15 minutes of Ella’s first call, she’d still be with us today,”said Vincent Laye, the father of Charlotte’s daughters.

“The pain and the grief that this has left us with is beyond explanation.

“Our girls have lost a mother who they relied on and who was their best friend, and the community around Llanteg has lost a woman who was greatly loved.  This was shown earlier this week when over 150 people turned out for her funeral.

“The bottom line is that the NHS has failed in providing the care that everyone pays for and that every one of us deserves.”

Charlotte began feeling unwell at around 7am on Christmas Day.

“I called 111 at 8.19am, the call lasted 53 seconds so I hung up because it was taking too long,” explained 15-year-old Ella Laye.

“I then called 999 at 8.29am and the call lasted 41 minutes.  The woman I spoke to refused to tell me how long an ambulance would take, but just said that one would be arranged.”

Realising that her mother’s condition was getting worse and worse, Ella then rang her grandfather, who lives in Clynderwen.

“He managed to drive over within around 20 minutes but by now Charlotte was drifting in and out of consciousness,” continued Vincent.

“He managed to get Charlotte into his car and began driving to Withybush.  But as they approached Robeston Wathen, he heard her make a gurgling sound and from then on, Charlotte never regained consciousness.”

When they reached Withybush, Charlotte was put onto a life-support system and conveyed to Morriston Hospital.  Sadly, she never recovered.

“Just because all this took place on Christmas Day, does it mean that people like Charlotte should be deprived of the medical care they deserve?” continued Vince Laye.

“Our girls have lost a mother who was with them and who cared for them 24/7.  Yes, their schools are doing everything they can to help them through this and we’re visiting the Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity, but absolutely no support is being shown to us by any other authority.

“All I can do is take things hour by hour because I truly believe that this awful death could have been prevented.  I really do.

“I don’t know the state of affairs in the NHS across Wales last Christmas morning but if they were severely understaffed through their own mismanagement, then someone has to be held accountable for Charlotte’s death.

“We’ve since discovered that the heart attack was caused by a blood clot that had moved to Charlotte’s heart, but we were also told that the damage this caused could have been treated with medication.    What took her life was the lack of oxygen to her brain…in other words, the length of time in which she was left untreated.  

“Charlotte has lost her life and the girls have lost their mother.  But this isn’t about the pain that we’re currently going through…this is going to continue for years.

“It’s about every other person out there who deserves to be looked after when they are most in need.

“The NHS and the local authority have failed us in a way that’s going to change our lives for ever, and I’m refusing to allow this to be brushed aside.  Somebody needs to be held accountable for what’s happened, to prevent this from happening to somebody else.”

Liam Williams, Executive Director of Quality and Nursing at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “We were deeply sorry to hear about Ms Burston’s passing and would like to extend our thoughts and condolences to her family on their sad loss.

“A thorough investigation has begun, and we will be contacting Ms Burston’s family to invite them to participate in this process and share their experience, which no doubt will have been traumatic for all involved.

“On behalf of the Welsh Ambulance Service, I would once again like to extend my sympathies to Ms Burston’s family.”

Speaking about delays to patient care earlier this week, The Welsh Ambulance Service’s assistant director of operations Sonia Thompson said: “Our ambulance service is under extreme and well-documented pressure as a result of wider system pressures across the NHS.

“The service is looking at solutions as the current situation is untenable for patients and staff across health and social care.

“As an ambulance service, we’re thinking very differently about the way we deliver services in future, and we are already testing some new ways of working across Wales to understand how we can relieve some of the pressure,” she added.

The Welsh Government has said recently that despite budget pressures, it was investing in same-day emergency care, extra community beds and social care services to improve patient flow through hospitals.

Community

Pop up museum opens in Haverfordwest whilst Castle works continue

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WITH Haverfordwest Castle closed for the next couple years due to building works for the Heart of Pembrokeshire project the Haverfordwest Town Museum has had to relocate to the town centre.

Last September, plans to move temporarily Haverfordwest’s museum to the town’s Riverside Quay while levelling-up works in the town are ongoing were given the thumbs-up.

An application for a change of use of the former GAME electronic games store at 24-25 Riverside Quay to the temporary home for the ‘pop-up’ museum was submitted to county planners by historian and council presiding member Dr Simon Hancock.

The museum itself is moving from its current site at the Governor’s Office next to Haverfordwest Castle due to ongoing works connected with the £24m Heart of Pembrokeshire levelling-up redevelopment of that part of the county town, which is expected to last until Spring 2026.

Work is ongoing to set up displays and create a museum shop and the new Riverside home is hoped to open to the public on March 25.

Museum Curator Dr Hancock said: “We want to make the pop-up museum an informative and entertaining space. We will have models of the castle and Tudor Merchant’s house, displays on the Llewellin churnworks, the Port of Haverfordwest, items made in the town during the Victorian period, David Lindley paintings and the People of Haverfordwest panels.

“We will be open all year round in our new premises and so we will ensure there will be regular changes of content. We would like to hear from anyone who would be interested in volunteering for us.

“The pop-up museum would only be possible thanks to the stalwart support of the county council with funding from the Shared Prosperity Fund for which we are extremely grateful.”

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Vandal-blighted house cannot be demolished without application

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AN OFFICIAL application needs to be made before a deteriorated vandal-blighted house in Haverfordwest may be demolished by a social housing provider, county planners have said.

Social housing provider Ateb Group Limited recently gave county planners prior notification of its plans to demolish The Grove, St Thomas Green.

In its application, it stated: “The building has been unoccupied for several years and its physical condition has deteriorated significantly over that time. It has become prone to vandalism and trespass and is becoming difficult to manage and secure.

“Its demolition will allow the structure and resultant debris to be removed, improving the visual amenities of the locality. It will also enable the site to become readily available for a sensitive redevelopment in association with the adjacent Meyler House.”

It added: “The cleared site will become part of the adjoining Meyler House site, with proposals being prepared to redevelop and construct affordable elderly persons apartments and associated parking facilities.”

Ateb has said it expected the demolition works to take several weeks, starting this April.

Agent Evans Banks Planning Limited, in a supporting statement said The Grove, adjoining Ateb’s head offices at Meyler House, received permission back in 2009 for the “Demolition of existing dwelling and replacement with apartments, houses and landscaped grounds.”

Conservation Area Consent was also granted at that time.

“Those permissions were not implemented and have long since lapsed, but nevertheless indicate that the principle of demolishing The Grove was deemed acceptable at that time to the local planning authority,” said Evans Banks Planning Limited.

“A pre-application enquiry has recently been presented before the local planning authority which seeks to reignite such redevelopment proposals but on a much larger site, incorporating Meyler House and its grounds into a comprehensive redevelopment scheme to create elderly persons apartments.”

It added: “This current submission seeks to renew that 2009 Conservation Area Consent given that the existing former dwellinghouse has now reached a physical state where its deterioration is causing concern.”

County planners determined that prior approval is needed before any demolition works take place, with details of tree protection while the works take place needed, along with a suitable method statement to minimise noise, dust and a strategy for dealing with hazardous materials should they arise during the demolition.

A similar application by Ateb, for demolition works at the town’s former learning centre, near to the former county library, was recently made subject to broadly similar conditions.

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Pembrokeshire council tax rise ‘highest in Wales in 20 years’

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A UK campaign group is to target Pembrokeshire ahead of the county facing what the group says would be the largest council tax increase in England and Wales in more than a decade.

At the February meeting of the county council’s Cabinet, members backed a council tax increase in Pembrokeshire of 16.3 per cent.

The proposed increase, which will be decided by full council at its March 7 meeting, would see the basic council tax level – before town/community precepts and the police precept are included – rise by £219.02 for the average Band D property, taking it to £1,561.98.

It is expected to be the highest percentage rate in Wales, on top of previous Pembrokeshire increases of 12.5 per cent, 9.92 per cent, five per cent, 3.75 per cent, five per cent and 7.5 per cent.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) has launched a campaign against the proposed increase, and will be in Milford Haven on Thursday, February 29, and Friday, March 1, delivering leaflets and speaking to residents about the proposed increase.

TPA research says that if the tax rise is agreed, it will be the largest in England and Wales since 2012-13, when referendum principles were agreed.

England differs from Wales in having a cap, needing a referendum for any rate above five per cent for the 2024-25 financial year.

Taxpayers Alliance says Pembrokeshire’s proposal would be the largest percentage increase in Wales since 2000-01 and the third largest since 1997-98.

The only larger rises were in 2000-01 and 1998-99, when Monmouthshire and Powys county councils increased their council tax by 23.15 per cent and 17.5 per cent respectively, the group says.

At the February meeting of Pembrokeshire’s Cabinet, potential rises of 18.94 per cent, and an eye-watering 20.98 were mooted, which would have placed the county in second place.

The TPA is calling on residents in Pembrokeshire to write to the leader of the council, Cllr David Simpson, expressing their opposition to the proposals.

Benjamin Elks, grassroots development manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This record-busting rate rise would deal a devastating blow to household finances in Pembrokeshire.

“Local taxpayers face being punished for the council’s failure to find efficiencies, cut down on waste and balance the books.

“Councillors should show some backbone, stand up for their residents and say no to this ruinous tax hike.”

Pembrokeshire, currently facing a projected funding gap of £31.9m, has historically had the lowest council tax in Wales.

For comparison, the current 2023-’24 average Band D base council tax – before police and town/community council parts of the overall bill are included – for Pembrokeshire is £1,342.86, compared to Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire at £1,553.60 and £1,490.97 respectively.

If the council had Ceredigion’s level of council tax for 2023-24, it would have had an additional £11.758m income and if it had Carmarthenshire’s it would have had an additional £8.264m.

Pembrokeshire Cabinet Member for Corporate Finance Cllr Alec Cormack said: “For 2024-25, Pembrokeshire County Council is facing additional demand pressures in statutory services (adult and children’s social care, homelessness and education).

“This means we need an extra £17m to provide these services next year – this alone is equivalent to an increase of over 26 per cent on council tax. Additionally, we face inflationary pressures of £22.8m.

“Our funding gap, after the AEF money we’ll receive from Welsh Government, is £31.9m.

“We are legally required to balance our budget – to match the amount of money coming in against what we spend to provide services. We are planning to make savings on our spending of £12.2m, as well as utilising some council tax premiums to enhance the sustainability of our communities.

“This has allowed us to limit the council tax rise to 16.31 per cent. This weighs up the need to limit council tax rises on residents against the need to preserve services used by many of the most vulnerable people in the county.

“The demand pressures, particularly in social care, are affecting all councils in Wales, but particularly Pembrokeshire, since we have had the lowest council tax in Wales for decades.

“Based on current information, we expect Pembrokeshire to still have one of the lowest council tax levels – probably 18th out of the 22 Welsh local authorities.”

Neighbouring Ceredigion is recommended to back an 11.1 per cent increase at its full council meeting of February 29.

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