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Health chair speaks out

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• The Board must communicate with the people
• ‘There WILL be a Chemotherapy Day Unit at Withybush’
• ‘Ward 10 is not closing’

Health Board Chair Bernadine Rees: Says Ward 10 is not closing

Health Board Chair Bernadine Rees: Says Ward 10 is not closing

IN A WIDE-RANGING interview with The Pembrokeshire Herald Assistant Editor Jon Coles, Health Board Chair Bernadine Rees spoke candidly about the challenges facing the Board in Pembrokeshire and beyond. Ms Rees began by addressing last week’s front page story, which she was concerned had implied Ward 10, the cancer care ward, had closed. Ms Rees was adamant that Ward 10 remained open to offer the same range of cancer care as previously: “I am from Pembrokeshire. I use services across all three counties served by the Health Board.

Make no mistake, we are committed to delivering a model of service that works for all people across the Health Board area. My first clinical experience was at Withybush Hospital in intensive care. But over the years that have passed since that experience, how we deliver care has changed.” Asked about the patient experience of health care, Ms Rees was direct: “Patients will not experience any change in the care they receive.

The core services at Withybush will remain the same. But we have to acknowledge that patients, people generally, are a lot more mobile than they were in the past. As I said above, since my first clinical experience at Withybush, methods of delivering care have changed and so have the ways in which people access it. The Board cannot stand still. The Health Board has to recognize that the way in which care is delivered has moved on.

We must ensure we deliver the best care possible across the whole of the Health Board.” Bernadine Rees revealed that the new service model developed for paediatric care at Withybush provided for on-site care at Withybush to run from 10am in the morning to 10pm at night, supported by 24 hour Accident and Emergency care. We put the problem the Board had with perceptions that it had failed to communicate its plans fully in the past. While declining to comment on past practice, Bernadine Rees said: “We must ensure that good news gets out.

I am concerned that we need to be given the chance to respond to stories in the press and that we work with the press in a much more proactive way. People must have confidence that the decisions we are making are based on evidence and we will work hard to make that evidence available so people can see the reasons behind our decisions. We will be sending more information out so that people know what changes we are making and why we are making them.”

She went on to explain: “I was personally disappointed to find that perhaps the Board has not been as effective communicating with those involved in cancer charities as I would have hoped. We remain committed to working with them to deliver the best possible service for cancer patients and their families in Pembrokeshire.” She confirmed: “Let me be clear: Ward 10 is not closing. We will build a chemotherapy day unit at Withybush.”

After the interview, The Herald received a press statement from the Board in which Dr Sian Lewis, Acute Services, Clinical Director said: “It is important that patients, their families and the general public understand that we continue to provide cancer services at Withybush Hospital. We have had to change the way we provide in-patient care because of problems in recruitment of a suitably trained oncologist.

This means that patients will be admitted under the care of general physicians with the support of specialist oncologist rather than directly under an oncologist. This is the usual model of care in district general hospitals throughout the UK. This change has happened because our recently appointed a locum consultant oncologist left on the 19th of September.

We have re-advertised and continue to work with recruitment agencies however there are currently more than 30 consultant oncologist vacancies across the UK and recruitment is a significant challenge. The new model of care will enable us to maintain in-patient services locally and for certain complications of cancer therapy, should improve the way we deliver care. Importantly, out-patient and chemotherapy services remain unchanged.”

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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