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Cancer care chaos

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• Specialist beds lost in further cuts to Withybush General Hospital

LOCAL healthcare services have been cut again. The Herald can reveal that specialist inpatient cancer care has ended at Withybush, with cancer patients now being treated in general medicine. 

Withybush HospitalOncology and palliative care beds have been re-designated which means that patients needing urgent cancer care cannot be admitted direct to Ward 10. Instead, patients face assessment in A&E before admission before being shared around noncancer specialists to supervise their care. It appears as though despite hundreds of thousands of pounds being raised for Ward 10, the Board is rapidly retreating from its commitment to maintain cancer care services in Pembrokeshire.

As from Friday September 19, there is no longer an on-site consultant oncologist at Withybush for the foreseeable future. Instead of specialist care, cancer patients will be allocated to other physicians and trainees within cancer care will be palmed off onto other consultant physicians. The Pembrokeshire Herald has been informed that a potential consultant oncologist, who has settled in the area, has instead gone to Bronglais where he can achieve certainty and security in his career. The Health Board has been obliged to apply a “sticking plaster” solution by asking Dr Anne Barnes MBE to come out of retirement and work part-time to provide oncology support.

Dr Barnes, awarded an MBE for her services to cancer care in Pembrokeshire, announced her retirement at the beginning of 2014. The Board failed to advertise for a replacement until shortly before she left the Board’s employment in June this year. The Pembrokeshire Herald understands that while doctors are prepared to take up the training of those student doctors previously assigned to cancer care, no cancer training will take place in Haverfordwest. The Board was informing the Deanery of its position this week.

It is understood the one senior doctor has expressed major concerns, in particular criticising the Board for allocating a locum oncologist to Bronglais for a year and not having an oncologist based at Withybush. The Herald believes that the acute intake at Bronglais for cancer care is under half of that at Withybush. The staffi ng issue is understood to be a substantial worry for those concerned in and about cancer care in Pembrokeshire. It is diffi cult to see how advertising a solitary post for one of the sites will attract applicants if there is no proper planned service. There are clinical concerns about inferior care being provided to Pembrokeshire cancer patients if there are no oncologists to look after them.

The Herald spoke to local campaigner Lyn Neville, who said: “It’s crazy. The Board told me that the change might be because of refurbishment, but this is just mad. It is completely wrong that bearing in mind the number of people who need treatment that the Board has withdrawn this specialist service. I am gobsmacked that Bernadine Rees told us all about a refurbished Ward and new Oncology Lounge and failed to tell us this was coming. Is she as bad as the last bloke?” Anne Barnes commented: “The situation currently is that as from last Monday (Sept 22), there are no longer any dedicated inpatient cancer care services at Withybush. There are no longer any palliative, haematology or oncology beds.

They have been re-designated. They Health Board have their reasons, and have expressed a rational but we feel that things could have been handled differently. I am looking forward to meeting with Acute Services Clinical Director, Dr Sian Lewis, on Monday in the effort to resolve the situation satisfactorily and reinstate services at Withybush for the benefi t of patients in Pembrokeshire.” Ms. Barnes added: “I would encourage patients and their families to make their views known to both the Board and their local and national representatives.”

 

Challenge to Board: Where is Pembrokeshire’s money?

CHRIS EVANS THOMAS of Adam’s Bucketful of Hope and Anne Tadman of Cancer C.O.P.S. were appalled at the Board’s conduct. They said as follows: “On September 8 we were at a meeting chaired by Paul Hawkins, the Board’s Chief Operating Offi cer. At that meeting we were told the Board was committed to providing specialist care. We were told of a green light for a new Ward 10 and Cancer Day Unit. “Now this! Does the right hand not know what the left hand is doing, or is the Board treating us like mushrooms? “Well, enough is enough. If the Board cannot or will not provide the care it has failed to deliver for so long, if the Board cannot keep its promises, we will have the money we have raised back so we can do it. “The Board took £3.9m of money raised in Pembrokeshire and dumped it into a central pot. That money was raised in Pembrokeshire to be spent in Pembrokeshire. All the clever, clever bookkeeping in the world cannot hide that. “So we say: ‘Show us the money!’ “We want to see the books to fi nd out where Pembrokeshire’s money went. We challenge the Board to show us. If they won’t, it will show that the Board has something to hide. If they have been honest and straightforward, they have nothing to fear.”

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Conservatives in plea for rate reduction ahead of Small Business Saturday

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WELSH CONSERVATIVES have reiterated their calls for Labour ministers to slash business rates for next year as we work to bounce back from the pandemic.

The party’s renewed plea comes as we mark Small Business Saturday tomorrow (Dec 4) which encourages people to shop local.

The annual event, now in its ninth year, saw 15.4 million people across the UK support their local shops, spending a huge £1.1 billion.

Small Business Saturday is a chance to celebrate the fantastic work they do such as creating jobs for local people and supporting our communities.

The Welsh Conservatives believe this year is more important than ever for people to shop in their local small businesses as they work to bounce back from the pandemic.

There are 265,340 micro, small and medium sized businesses across Wales employing nearly 740,000 people and turning over £46 billion a year.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for the Economy, Paul Davies MS, said: “From corner shops to cafes, small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the beating heart of local communities up and down Wales.

“Businesses have taken a huge hit because of the pandemic and with our economy still recovering, it is vital we do all we can to help our traders get back on their feet.

“We can help by shopping local, but Labour ministers in Cardiff Bay can also play their part by matching the UK Government’s pledge to slash business rates by 50% for next year – or even more.

“It is important now more than ever to shop local and help our small businesses bounce back and I hope the Labour government will step up to the plate as well and provide them with much-needed economic support so they can flourish and grow.”

Welsh Liberal Democrats are also calling for aSupport Package for Small Businesses 

Ahead of Small Business Saturday, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for more action to support more small businesses across Wales.

Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities and takes place on the first Saturday in December each year. 

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have stated that not enough is being done to support small businesses across Wales given the adverse few years they have just had to face, adapting to post-Brexit trading agreements and coping with the long-lasting fallout of the pandemic.  

Among the measures the party is calling for are: reform of business rates, improved broadband speeds and access, further investment in towns regeneration and a windfall tax on global giants like Amazon.  

Commenting on the calls Mid & West Wales Senedd Member Jane Dodds stated: “Small businesses are the backbone of the Welsh economy. With over 60 per cent of Welsh employment being provided by small and medium businesses, they will be the driving force behind our recovery from the pandemic.  

“It is for this reason, it is absolutely vital they are properly supported over the coming years with real tangible ideas. The Welsh Liberal Democrats would ease the pressure of business rates, invest in public transport, broadband and mobile phone signal, and make sure that big online business pay their fair share. 

“The Labour-Plaid Cymru deal is bereft of ideas to support small businesses and the Conservatives are busy undermining business in London. The Welsh Lib Dems have small businesses and jobs at the top of our agenda.   

“At the forefront is our call the reform of business rates. Business rates represent an enormous on our local shops and enterprises. An analogue tax in a digital age, rates give a competitive advantage towards online retail giants while punishing our local shops that actually employ local people and pay all their taxes.

“If the Labour-Plaid Cymru administration is considering reforming council tax, reforming business rates should also be at the top of their agenda. At a UK Government level we continue to call on the Conservatives to implement a windfall tax on online giants such as Amazon where the funds raised can go into improving high streets across the UK.

“We also want the Government to consider more support for a towns regeneration fund. We are proposing a £500 million towns regeneration fund over the next five years to invest in the physical and digital infrastructure of our towns. In rural regions like my own, digital connectivity is still a major barrier to the success of some small businesses.

“Its also important to recognise the impact that leaving the EU has had on many small businesses across Wales. Increased trading barriers and red tape have left many struggling to continue exports to EU customers, with the costs of increased bureaucracy putting them at a competitive disadvantage compared to companies in Northern Ireland and other EU states. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are continuing to call for an improved trading deal with the EU as well as the return of freedom of movement.

“We can do more to support our small businesses, we just need key players to find the political will to do so.”

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New funding for Pembroke regeneration scheme welcomed

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has said it is proud to announce the success of its bid to the UK Government Levelling Up Fund for its regeneration project at South Quay in Pembroke.

This £4.1million LUF award will enable the Council to develop phase 2 of the South Quay plans.

“The announcement has given us a welcome opportunity for a progress update on phase 1, and to share our plans for phase 2 of the project,” said Rachel Moxey, Head of Economic Development and Regeneration.

As part of its wider regeneration work across Pembrokeshire, the County Council embarked on an ambitious programme earlier this year to redevelop the historic and prominent South Quay site next to Pembroke Castle.

The work involves the restoration and re-use of three dilapidated Grade II listed buildings on the site, as well as enhancing the surrounding environment and improving access between the town centre, castle and the waterfront.

The first phase of work aims to create a new attraction celebrating the town’s legacy as the birthplace of the Tudor dynasty. The second phase will provide a new community hub for social care, continued education and supported employment. Together, the developments will provide a diverse and sustainable mix of new uses in the town.

Phase 1:

The first phase of works is taking place at numbers 4, 5 and 6 Castle Terrace (the road between Pembroke Castle and the junction to Main Street).

The scheme will provide:

  • a new Henry Tudor visitor centre, library and café
  • landscaping of the medieval ‘burgage’ gardens to provide tranquil and restful areas in the historic heart of the town
  • major improvements to the public realm

“We were under no illusions that this was a very complex scheme, and as is often the case with such projects, a number of challenging issues have arisen as the preparatory works continue,” said Steve Jardine, Regeneration Manager.

Issues have included a roof collapse and clearance of contaminated debris, providing additional support to the existing structure and designing for additional demolition works identified during the enabling stage.

Recent work has included providing a protection system to the vaulted medieval cellars of No.4 Castle Terrace and strengthening the property at basement level, to allow for a safer working area within the front third of the building.

The next stage will attempt to make the building safer, in order to allow further investigation and inspection works to finalise the design of the regeneration scheme. This will include the installation of scaffolding to support the front façade during demolition of some of the walls.

A revised timeline will see the remaining demolition and re-build completed by the end of August next year, followed immediately by the start of the construction of the new heritage centre, café and library, with completion planned for early 2024.

In common with many other schemes taking place at the current time, Brexit and the unforeseen impact of Covid have created time and financial implications for the project. The Council is nonetheless committed to staying on track to deliver on the overall scheme as an essential element of its strategy to breathe new life into Pembrokeshire’s towns.

Phase 1 has benefited from Welsh Government ‘Transforming Towns’ funding and investment from Pembrokeshire County Council.

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Economy, Tourism, Leisure and Culture, said: “Repurposing and transforming our key town centres is one of the core elements of our economic development strategy. We are committed to regenerating the South Quay site into an attractive, sustainable and thriving development, of which Pembroke and Pembrokeshire will be very proud.”

Phase 2:

The second phase of development involves the completion of South Quay’s regeneration scheme and is centred on numbers 7 and 8 Northgate Street. It will provide:

  • a community hub over three storeys, including a space for day opportunities , space for digital media, art and heritage craft activities, and learning and skills areas to support independent living for people of all ages
  • environmental enhancements, including the restoration of the buildings, a new sunken garden and improvements to the parking area at South Quay
  • improved access between the Henry Tudor visitor centre and the waterfront

The development would enable the consolidation of adult social care in South Pembrokeshire, providing a modern, better-integrated, community focussed and more sustainable, inclusive day opportunities model in the heart of the town, and yielding savings to the public sector through the closure of existing, poorer quality facilities.

It will also support employment opportunities, which will be integrated within the operation of the new facility.

Jason Bennett, Head of Adult Social Care, said: “This innovative project is representative of our ambition to modernise social care, by offering inclusive services in the heart of our communities, helping people and families remain connected to their local area.”

Cabinet member for Social Care, Cllr Tessa Hodgson said it was ‘fantastic to see this substantial investment in Pembroke’. 

“South Quay is a really innovative scheme designed to benefit all members of the community and is a result of the ambition and drive of Cabinet and the hard work and vision of the regeneration and social care teams at Pembrokeshire County Council,” she said.

Cllr Aaron Carey, County Councillor for Pembroke St Mary South which includes the South Quay site, added: “By introducing an additional offering to the town we can move towards our full potential and offer people, local and visitors alike, reasons to stay in our beautiful town for longer.”

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Extreme pornographic images case to be dealt with at Swansea Crown Court

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A MILFORD HAVEN man who denies three charges of making indecent images of children and of possessing an extreme pornographic image portraying sexual interference with a corpse, has been sent to Crown Court for trial.

Markus Whatling, 38, of Waterloo Square, denies a further charge of possessing a prohibited image of a child.

The offences are alleged to have occurred between May 2, 2010 and February 25, 2021.

Whatling was released by Haverfordwest magistrates this week on conditional bail, the condition being that he does not have any unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 18.

The case was heard on Tuesday.

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