Connect with us


Bathing water samplers set for a busy season of water quality checks



WHILE families across Wales start making plans for the summer, samplers from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) are embarking on their annual programme of bathing water quality tests.

This year, there are 110 designated bathing waters which will be sampled multiple times between 15th May-30th September, in line with the UK Bathing Water Regulations. 109 of these are coastal waters, and one inland lake (Llyn Padarn).

Last month the Welsh Government announced that Nefyn Beach in Gwynedd had been added to the list of designations, following a successful application.

Bathing water samples are sent to NRW’s laboratory in Swansea, where they are tested for levels of Escherichia coli (E. coli) and intestinal enterococci (IE).

Results from a four-year rolling period then determine the classification for the next bathing water season; excellent, good, satisfactory or poor.

Last year, 98% of Wales’s designated bathing waters met stringent environmental standards, with 80 out of 109 meeting the ‘excellent’ criteria.

Clare Pillman, Chief Executive of NRW said:

“More and more people are enjoying the benefits of open water swimming, and where better to take a dip than at one of the many fantastic bathing waters Wales has to offer.

“Our blue waters offer a wealth of recreation opportunities, providing a vital boost to Wales’ tourism sector and the health and well-being of our communities.

“Our teams continue to work hard to tackle the many sources of pollution which threaten our water quality, including from agriculture and storm overflows. Much progress is being made, and we are pressing for record levels of water company investment for the environment in the coming years to safeguard the future health of our waters.”

Prior to the start of the traditional bathing water season, NRW officers undertake a number of pre-season checks and samples. This includes checking to ensure permit conditions for nearby discharges are being complied with.

Issues or deteriorations flagged in last year’s results are investigated by local teams to identify any sources of pollution which may be contributing to high bacteria levels found in samples.

Information about where to find designated bathing waters, and the standard of bathing water is available on NRW’s website.

Visit the Adventure Smart website for information about swimming safely in open waters.

Continue Reading


Decades of failure and denial over tainted blood scandal revealed



ON MONDAY evening (May 20), Rishi Sunak apologised on behalf of the British government to the victims of the contaminated blood scandal.

After a five-year public inquiry, the Prime Minister offered an “unequivocal” apology for the findings published in Sir Brian Langstaff’s report earlier on May 20.

The findings were damning.

They included the revelation that ministers, doctors and civil servants knew the risks of the blood products given to haemophiliacs and people needing blood transfusions.

Victims were “gaslit” by claims that the mass infection of those patients with HIV and hepatitis C was inadvertent, that screening started as soon as it could, and that no one could have stopped it sooner.

None of those things were true.

Under successive Labour and Conservative Governments, the Department of Health and HM Treasury fought against a public inquiry and the idea of paying compensation to those affected by being given tainted blood products.

Officials fobbed off ministers who tried to look into what had happened, complaining that they had too much sympathy for the victims.

When briefing documents for ministers got close to revealing the truth, civil servants doctored their content to misrepresent their authors’ findings.

While Mr Sunak apologised for the failures of the British state and Sir Kier Starmer for a “failure of politics”, the blame doesn’t rest only at Westminster’s door.

Welsh Government ministers are specifically mentioned for refusing to hold a public inquiry and not seeking advice specific to Wales. Instead, despite having responsibility for the NHS in Wales, they slavishly followed Westminster’s line.

Welsh Government ministers failed to examine the strength of the evidence UK ministers and officials relied upon or assess the evidence available in Wales.

Had they done so, they would have found key claims – that all infections were inadvertent and patients received the best possible treatments – were untrue and unfounded.

Only in 2017 did the Welsh Government change tack, when then-Health Minister Vaughan Gething wrote to his UK counterpart, Jeremy Hunt, to request a UK-wide public inquiry.

Ironically, only Theresa May’s political weakness following the 2017 General Election led the Westminster Government to order a public inquiry. Mrs May feared losing a Commons vote on the demand for one.

The worst elements of the scandal are clinical and institutional.

Clinicians, Department of Health officials, and others concealed the truth to avoid blame and liability.
The inquiry pointed to medical advice on the dangers of blood and plasma dating back 40 years and court rulings that showed other countries had started screening sooner.

Doctors claimed they hadn’t seen evidence of infection through those products even while treating people who had contracted AIDS from their treatment with them.

Documents disappeared, were “lost”, and patient records were deleted.

Leading clinicians withheld critical information from patients and their families.
Children with haemophilia were treated as guinea pigs.

The list of severe historic and continuing failings is almost unending.

The government’s easiest task is paying compensation. Addressing the culture of secrecy and institutional arrogance will be much harder.

For more on this story, see this week’s edition of The Pembrokeshire Herald.

Continue Reading


Further pleas to save Anchorage Day Centre



A PLEA by a concerned parent to keep Pembroke Dock’s Anchorage Day Centre open was heard at a full meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council.

The Anchorage Day Care Centre in Pembroke Dock has been a “safe and happy place” for adults with learning difficulties and additional needs for decades.

In more recent years it has expanded to support elderly dementia sufferers.

But now the centre is expected to close, with services instead being offered elsewhere in the county, including Haverfordwest and Milford Haven.

A series of engagement events have taken place at The Anchorage recently, outlining the reasons and the options in continued service.

One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “One young woman who attends ran out of the first meeting sobbing when she was told it was going to close. Another, at the second meeting, tried to address the meeting but was so choked up at the thought of not seeing her friends anymore she could hardly speak.”

In a submitted question heard at the May 9 meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council, concerned parent Peter Welsh asked: “Is the council aware of the huge impact the impending closure of the Anchorage Adult Day-care Centre in Pembroke Dock is already having to the health and mental wellbeing of my daughter and 20 other vulnerable adults with special needs and learning difficulties, who are unable to cope with changes to routine, or to process and understand what is happening to them?

“And would the council, therefore, please review its closure decision and retain the centre and the vital and invaluable service it provides not only to the individuals concerned but also to the parents?

“If not, what specific measures does the cabinet member have in place to support my daughter and these other individuals who need extra assistance to enable them to maintain their independence, value and allow their carers to have valuable respite from their caring responsibilities and what are the estimated costs for these substitute measures?”

Responding, Cabinet Member for Social Care & Safeguarding Cllr Tessa Hodgson said an engagement with service users, carers and families was made immediately after staff were informed about the potential closure following the council’s March budget setting.

Members were told two sessions were held with all concerned, with a list of alternative day opportunities in the county outlined, with opportunities to attend short sessions at the other centres being available so they “can fully explore which opportunity is best suited to their needs and wants”.

“All service users of the Anchorage will be offered alternative day centre arrangements in order to preserve their independence and also to support the caring needs of their families, these assessments are still taking place and are likely to continue to do so at least until the end of May.”

Cllr Hodgson said she was unable to provide estimated costs of the new arrangements until all the assessments were in place, hoping to update members at a future date.

An online e-petition, on the council’s own website has been launched calling for the Anchorage to stay open.

Continue Reading


Calls for Welsh Govt to improve both maternity and neonatal safety



LEADING pregnancy charities have urged the Welsh Government to take stronger measures to enhance maternity and neonatal services, in order to realise the substantial changes necessary to reduce infant mortality. The Sands and Tommy’s Joint Policy Unit released a revealing report today, stating that initiatives in Wales are inadequate to instigate the vital transformation required to prevent baby deaths.

The report, titled “Saving Babies’ Lives 2024: Progress Report,” notes that strides toward diminishing stillbirths and neonatal deaths have halted in Wales, mirroring a stagnant situation across the UK. The findings suggest that with improved care, as many as 800 infant lives could have been saved throughout the UK last year. The document emphasises the urgent need for meaningful action to tackle the severe and enduring disparities in baby loss and pregnancy complications across different demographic groups.

Particularly alarming is the continuing disparity in outcomes for infants from varied ethnic backgrounds and socio-economic statuses. The report underscores that the stillbirth rate in Wales has exceeded that of any other UK nation since 2014, with minimal improvement in neonatal mortality rates over the past decade. Unlike England, which aims to halve the rates of stillbirth, neonatal death, preterm birth, maternal death, and brain injury by 2025 relative to 2010, Wales has set no similar goals.

Moreover, the report criticises the Welsh Government for the insufficient number of reviews conducted following infant deaths, which are crucial for understanding potential lessons and providing grieving parents with needed explanations.

Robert Wilson, head of the Sands and Tommy’s Joint Policy Unit, commented, “Our report unequivocally shows that the Welsh Government must establish clear targets for reducing pregnancy loss and baby deaths, and for eliminating inequalities. These targets should catalyse a thorough suite of policy measures, adequately supported by necessary funding and resources.”

The report provides specific recommendations to enhance maternity safety in Wales, including the consistent involvement of staff and patients, especially bereaved parents, in assessing the quality of maternity and neonatal services. It also calls for transparent and independently overseen reviews of individual services, and improvements in the completion rate of reviews following a baby’s death.

The Joint Policy Unit is advocating for a unified commitment across all four UK nations to eradicate inequalities in pregnancy and baby loss. Disturbingly, the 2021 data revealed that the rate of stillbirths and neonatal deaths among Black babies was almost double that of White babies, and significantly higher than the overall UK rate. This disparity was similarly stark between the most and least deprived areas in the UK.

The report also highlights that only about 2% of public and charity health research funding has been allocated to reproductive health and childbirth over the last two decades, signalling a need for increased investment in these crucial areas.

Continue Reading

News6 hours ago

Sunak calls summer General Election – we vote on July 4

THE UK goes to the polls on Thursday, July 4. The Prime Minister announced the general election date in a...

Community12 hours ago

Lucky dog rescued by lifeboat crew after 250 foot cliff fall

WHIST on a coxswain training exercise on Monday (May 20), the lifeboat Haydn Miller was tasked to Rhossili, following a...

Education16 hours ago

Exciting visit to France for Pembrokeshire school pupils

LAST week, 60 children and 16 teaching staff visited the Bassin d’Arcachon in France as part of a Taith funded...

Business17 hours ago

First drive-thru Starbucks in Pembrokeshire approved

PEMBROKESHIRE is to get its first drive-thru Starbucks coffee shop after a scheme was backed by county planners today, May...

Crime1 day ago

Man accused of making Category A images of a child in caravan park

A HAVERFORDWEST man has appeared before magistrates charged with making six category A images of a child at a caravan...

News2 days ago

Lifeboat crew plucks woman in difficulty from the water

ANGLE All-Weather Lifeboat was requested to launch at 10pm on Sunday night (May 19). The Coastguard had received a call...

News3 days ago

Two men arrested following death of Milford Haven woman

POLICE in Milford Haven are investigating after a woman died in the early hours of Friday morning, after the Welsh...

News3 days ago

Milford Haven tops list of UK’s most polluted ports

NEW analysis by Transport & Environment UK (T&E UK) has revealed alarming levels of air pollution from ships at UK...

Charity3 days ago

Therapy dogs delight Bryan Adams and crew at Utilita Arena

HAVERFORDWEST-based charity, Cariad Pet Therapy, received VIP treatment during a special visit to Bryan Adams and his crew at the...

News5 days ago

Anticipation builds for more Northern Lights as solar activity peaks

IN the wake of a mesmerising display of the aurora borealis last weekend, experts predict further celestial spectacles are imminent...

Popular This Week