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Extra NHS funding for care services

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nhsHYWEL DDA UNIVERSITY HEALTH BOARD has had a funding boost of £286,440 and a share of central funding to improve primary care services in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire. The funding is part of a £3.5 million package for health boards across Wales, the Health Minister Mark Drakeford announced on Monday (Nov 3). Providing eye care services closer to people’s homes; preventing premature deaths from cardiovascular disease; developing the skills of the primary care providers; and reducing health inequalities though community action in our most deprived communities are to benefit from the funding.

The funding is being made available in 2014-15 from central Welsh Government funds. Following a round of spending proposals from all the health boards in Wales the Minister has approved schemes including of the use of £2 million to improve and develop the skills of NHS primary staff.

These include medicine management, developing GP skills in cardiology, dermatology and palliative care, nurse led phlebotomy, pharmacists support for nurses and GPs, advanced nurse practice, improving access to primary care and pulmonary disease, including bronchitis and emphysema, rehabilitation in community settings closer to people’s homes.

The Minister has also agreed supports for more local eye care services, with £600,000 going to the seven health boards to provide an additional 7,274 eye appointments including cataracts, glaucoma and agerelated macular degeneration. One of the wider benefits of providing these services locally will be to free up hospital appointments. In Hywel Dda, £206,000 is being provided for education and training and £80,440 to provide 624 optometrist-led triage appointments to reduce demand for new ophthalmology referrals and post-op appointments.

Advance Practice Training will get £300,000 to develop a multidisciplinary primary care workforce, which makes more effective use of GPs’ time and expertise. The funding will help train more advanced nurses, therapists and clinical pharmacists to work in primary care to support GPs. Health Minister Mark Drakeford said: “These schemes will improve the quality of service provided by GPs, nurses, pharmacists and therapists to patients. Improving local, targeted services will help reduce the inequalities in health and tackle poverty, both of which are key Welsh Government priorities and are linked to poor health.

By providing a ‘closer to home’ health service which is better integrated with social care and has close links with services provided by the third and independent sectors we will reduce inequalities in health. This funding will help to create a strong, highly-trained primary care workforce, which can deliver a widerange of services in local communities, reducing our dependence on hospitalbased care. It will also see more follow-up eye appointments provided closer to patients’ homes instead of in a hospital setting.”

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Council tax reduction supports people on low incomes

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A COUNCIL Tax Reduction Scheme is in place to help people who are on a low income. The council administers the scheme on behalf of the Welsh Government for people who are liable to pay Council Tax and who live in Ceredigion. With the recent decision to raise Council Tax by 7%, residents on low incomes are being urged to find out if they are entitled to some help towards paying their Council Tax.

People can be eligible for the reduction if they are on a low income, working or unemployed, cannot work because of illness, retired or are caring for someone. The amount of the reduction depends on a person’s circumstances and how much Council Tax they need to pay.

Councillor Gareth Lloyd is the Cabinet member responsible for Financial Services. He said, “We made the difficult decision to raise Council Tax by 7% to reduce the amount of cuts we have to make to council services. The reality is that the council is getting less money from the Welsh Government at a time when costs and demand for services are rising.”

“We want to urge anyone who is on a low income to consider if they are eligible for Council Tax Reduction. Tax increases can add pressure onto people’s budgets, and although this increase is vital to keep quality services in Ceredigion, we want to make sure that anyone who is eligible for help gets it.”

For more information on eligibility and how to claim council tax reduction, email revenues@ceredigion.gov.uk or call 01970 633 252.

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7% council tax increase to protect education funding

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THE COUNCIL TAX in Ceredigion for 2019-2020 will increase by 7%. The increase was agreed by councillors to reduce the impact of cuts to the Council’s budget and, in particular, to protect education spending. The decision was made in a Council meeting on 21 February 2019.

2% of the 7% increase will be used to protect education spending. Schools budgets have been under severe stress after years of needing to make savings. Costs have increased yet again following the agreement of new teachers’ salary increases together with increased pension contributions. This extra 2% uplift will enable school budgets to be kept flat.

The council tax rate increase is set by three key components, the County Council’s tax, the precept of Town and Community Councils and the Police precept. Increases set by the Police and Town and Community Councils result in a combined increase of 7.56%.

Councillor Ellen ap Leader of the Council, said, “We had no option but to ask Council to increase Council Tax by 7% in order to reduce the impact of the cuts we have had to make across council budgets. A successful Ceredigion in the future needs well-funded and well run schools. We want to invest in the future of our children and our county.”

“The reality is that the council is getting less money from the Welsh Government at a time when costs and demand for services are rising. The uplift of teachers’ salaries and pensions has not been fully funded by Welsh Government to date. If council tax had not increased, we would have to make deeper cuts.”

In 2018-2019, the average Council Tax Band D property was £1,226.48. The increase means that the same property will pay £1,312.33 in 2019-2020. The council’s budget has been cut by £39m or 25% in the last seven years. The Council will still need to save another £6m in the coming financial year.

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Information management policies updated to improve security

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THREE key information management policies have been updated by Ceredigion County Council. The policies were updated because of new laws and the need make sure that they are effective in a changing technological environment.

The updated policies were approved by the council’s Cabinet in a meeting on 19 February 2019.

The three policies that have been reviewed are:

· Data Protection/GDPR Policy
· Information Security Policy
· Information and Records Management Policy

The Deputy Leader of Ceredigion County Council and Cabinet member responsible for Governance, Councillor Ray Quant MBE said, “The council needs to keep information and data to carry out the many service we provide. Because of this we have to make sure we’re up to date on data and information protections laws. This decision means that we have approved the hard work done to update the policies and make sure that they are fit for use.”

The policies are essential to manage digital and paper records of the council.

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