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Ambulances at breaking point

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ambulancesWHILE controversy continues about the tragic death of Wayne Young (see page x) on New Year’s Day, The Herald has spoken to several sources who have told the same story again and again: that the Ambulance Service has been pushed to the breaking point and beyond over recent weeks. One concerned member of staff told us that ambulances based in Pembrokeshire have been forced to cover incidents in Ceredigion and as far afi eld as Llandeilo, as Carmarthenshire-based ambulances have been overwhelmed by calls to Swansea and beyond.

AMBULANCES FILL THE GAPS’ 

Five ambulances are rotated to cover Pembrokeshire. However, demands from outside the County and long waits at Glangwili for ‘emergency admissions’, mean Pembrokeshire has been left hopelessly exposed with fewer available than are required to be on duty. Pictures have appeared in the Welsh media of a dozen ambulances queued up outside Morriston, each with a patient waiting for admission to Accident & Emergency. A similar, but less dramatic situation has recently occurred at Glangwili, with a Pembrokeshire ambulance waiting for more than two hours to unload an ill patient. The Herald has also uncovered that in Christmas week only one third of the most urgent ‘Red’ cases were reached within the eight minutes target set by the Welsh Government. The problems with the Ambulance Service have called into question the viability of the Board’s ‘Designated Ambulance Vehicle’ (DAV). The Herald understands that although twelve vacancies were advertised to crew the DAV, there has been difficulty in acquiring long term staff for the service and that at least two replacement posts have recently gone out to advertisement.

LOCAL GP VOICES CONCERNS

Dr Dan Weaver, a GP at the Robert Street practice in Milford Haven, posted his family’s experience on the Save Withybush Hospital Team’s (SWAT) Facebook page: “One of my children has been really poorly recently. “At the weekend they had been really wheezy with a croupy upper respiratory tract infection, but abruptly got a lot worse and they went into a degree of respiratory distress, really struggling to breath to the point where they were vomiting with the effort and lips had bluish tinge. “We live approximately 12 minutes from Withybush and last year in a similar situation I would have run her to the car and driven to A&E in case she needed nebulising/oxygen support etc. This was not an option as it was after 10pm. “West Wales General is more like a 45-50 minute drive. “I am medically trained but would not have fancied risking her worsening further in a cold car while I drove to Carmarthen as I could still be potentially over half an hour from help – additionally I realised that I would need to fi ll up with petrol to get to Carmarthen as my tank was virtually empty. I gave her oral steroids and salbutamol, we tried to keep her calm and called an ambulance. “The ambulance took over 30 minutes to come because it had to come from Carmarthen. Apparently all the Pembrokeshire ambulances were in Carmarthenshire and stuck in Llanelli (this was according to the crew who attended who were fantastic). “She was already starting to improve a little when the ambulance crew arrived thankfully as the steroids were beginning to kick in. She’s still pretty poorly but breathing better than a couple of days ago. “I felt it important to share this as I think there are two key points about the current situation that I think are worth underlining: Firstly it does not seem that ambulance provision is anything like appropriate considering the increased demands on the ambulance service from reduced local jobs & gynae/paediatric services. Ambulances from the county seem routinely being used to cover other regions which leaves Pembrokeshire very exposed. “Secondly I think it may be worth anyone who looks after a child (or is pregnant or knows someone who is pregnant) in Pembrokeshire making sure they always have enough fuel to get to Carmarthen quickly in the event of an unforeseen emergency. This is not something which I had really clearly thought about before Saturday night; but I think is increasingly relevant and could make the difference between recovery and tragedy.”

CONCERNS FOR EXPECTANT MUMS 

An expectant mum contacted The Herald this week and told us that mums to- be are being told to consider opting to give birth in Withybush to ease pressures on the DAV and ensure that maternity services remain in Pembrokeshire. She told us that she feels midwives have been trying to plant the seed for mums to stay in Pembrokeshire, despite accepting that birth at Withybush might be no safer than having a home birth attended by a midwife. She also said that midwives have been telling expectant mothers that staff shortages at Glangwili mean that aftercare is poorer than at Withybush and that there is pressure on staff to turnaround beds too quickly. Rebecca (name changed) said: “I made the to decision to go to Carmarthen early on in my pregnancy, but when I went to a recent appointment, I felt very confused afterwards after feeling pressured to agree that I would be better off going to Withybush due to the poor aftercare, even though if I needed an emergency caesarean or even an epidural, I wouldn’t be able to have one due to there being nobody qualifi ed to perform the procedure.” Rebecca also reported that she had been led to understand that if people do not use the midwife led unit, it will close all together and there will be nowhere at all to have a baby in Pembrokeshire. The Pembrokeshire Herald reported staff fears on that very point last summer, when the Board closed Withybush’s Special Care Baby Unit and ended consultant-led care at the hospital. Rebecca continued: “I’ve also been told to call the midwife when I go into labour so I can be checked to see when I should go to the hospital, but whenever I call them, whether it be at the doctors surgery or the midwife led unit, nobody has ever answered the phone to me when I call, and I have to leave a message to be picked up later. “The Midwife Led Unit never goes to answerphone and never stops ringing. “What worries me most is that problems can’t always be detected until they’re happening in labour. Expectant mothers in labour are expected to wait until contractions are fi ve to six minutes apart, despite having to travel for up to an hour or even more, with the risk of waters breaking in the car on the way.”

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Man arrested for illegal fishing in Teifi valley

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A MAN has been arrested after environmental crime officers from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) spotted an illegal net in a mid-Wales river.

The officers were conducting a routine patrol of the River Teifi on Thursday (May 14) when they came across a net in the water.

Following an investigation carried out in partnership with Dyfed Powys Police, a man was arrested on suspicion of illegal fisheries offences in the Teifi valley.

At the scene, officers retrieved the net which contained seven dead sea trout.

David Lee, NRW’s North and Mid Wales Operations Team Leader, said:

“Thanks to the excellent work of our officers and Dyfed Powys Police we were able to prevent further damage to the Teifi sea trout population.

“We take any activity that threatens sea trout and salmon extremely seriously and this is especially true of illegal fishing.

“Nets can potentially capture large numbers of fish and given the current challenges facing stock numbers currently every sea trout or salmon taken represents another blow to our efforts to protect these iconic fish.”

Despite the current Coronavirus lockdown, NRW officers are continuing to patrol Welsh rivers and people are encouraged to check that fish they buy locally – particularly through social media – are from a legitimate source.

If you see any suspicious or illegal activity on our rivers please report it to the NRW incident hotline on 0300 065 3000.

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Mother-daughter foot patrol brings 30 year career to a poignant end for Chief Inspector

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AS Chief Inspector Nicky Carter ended a 30 year career in policing, there was no better way to do it than going out on patrol with her daughter.

And for PCSO Charlotte, taking to the streets of Lampeter with her mum was a fitting way to mark her first six months at Dyfed-Powys Police.

Patrolling together in uniform was something the mother-daughter pair had long imagined, with PCSO Carter wanting to join the police from a young age.

The 19-year-old said: “I joined in September 2019, and have wanted to be a part of Dyfed-Powys Police since I can remember. I was inspired by my mum working in the force, and thought it would be a great career.

“I’m really glad I joined before she retired, as it gave us the opportunity to go out on foot patrol in the town where mum had been the local Inspector. It was really lovely.”

Embarking on a career she’d planned since childhood, PCSO Carter took the chance to gain valuable advice from her mum – whose experiences on the frontline inspired her to join.

“Mum has told me to always treat people as I would wish to be treated,” she said. “That’s something I’ll take forward with me.”

“I’m six months in now, and I enjoy dealing with the public and offering reassurance to people in the communities of Lampeter town and surrounding areas.”

For former CI Carter, the foot patrol drew a 30-year career – starting at North Wales Police – to a poignant close.

She ended her time at Dyfed-Powys Police in her home division of Ceredigion, transferring to Aberystwyth in 2006 to take up an inspector post.

Despite admitting there will be concerns for her only child as policing inevitably comes with risks, it was a career she encouraged.

She said: “I was very proud of Charlotte wishing to join Dyfed-Powys. As I retire I still consider that policing offers tremendous job satisfaction and I know that the organisation looks after and cares for its staff.

“I encouraged her to find out about the PCSO role before she applied, and also encouraged her to attend an open evening in Ceredigion to speak to staff. I wanted her to make an informed decision to join the organisation.

“As a parent and a former officer, it is natural to be concerned about what may occur when Charlotte is at work. However, the training, mentoring and support from staff and supervisors is second to none, so that offers me reassurance.”

Looking back at 30 years in policing, CI Carter has achieved plenty to inspire her daughter – and other women thinking of joining. From being a founding member of female networks in two forces, and a committee member of the British Association of Women in Policing, she has also proudly contributed to local and national work to ensure all staff reach their full potential.

She was humbled to receive a leadership award from Chwarae Teg in 2017, and represented chief officers at the International Association of Women Police awards in Alaska in 2019, where two Ceredigion officers were rewarded for their bravery.

When it comes to passing on her wealth of experience to her daughter, the former CI urged her to always consider her own wellbeing as well as that of the community.

“The most important advice I have given Charlotte is to look after herself and her wellbeing as whilst policing is a very rewarding role, it is one that can be both challenging and stressful at times,” she said.

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Ben Lake MP “disappointed” after Agriculture Bill amendment on the standard of food and agricultural imports is rejected by House of Commons

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The UK’s new Agriculture Bill was put before MPs on Wednesday (13 May) for the final time as it reached the Report Stage and Third Reading.

Alongside farming unions and campaign groups, Ben Lake MP has lobbied for the Bill to include a number of important amendments. One of the amendments sought to introduce a legal requirement that agricultural or food products imported into the UK under future trade agreements would need to be produced or processed according to equivalent animal health, welfare and environmental standards as those required of UK prodcuers.

This amendment, in the form of New Clause 2, and which was tabled by the Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Neil Parish MP, was rejected by the Commons. All Plaid Cymru MPs supported the amendment and Ben Lake MP said he was “disappointed” that the house did not vote in favour of an amendment to prevent the importation of products produced to lower animal health and environmental standards, and which in turn would have supported the high standards of Welsh produce.

Ben Lake MP said:

“Without this amendment there remains no legal requirement for future UK trade agreements to ensure that any agricultural or food imports are produced to the same standards as those required of domestic producers.

“Farmers in Wales strive to produce quality food in a sustainable manner, but the failure to include this amendment to the Agriculture Bill risks undermining these efforts by keeping the door open to imports produced to lower environmental and animal welfare standards.

“I have always argued that in order to protect our own high standards it is crucial that a level playing-field is maintained in relation to imports, and that farmers in Wales are not put at a disadvantage by having to compete with imports that are produced to lower standards. I sincerely hope that this amendment will be adopted by the House of Lords, so that the House of Commons has another opportunity to support it.”

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