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MS team make life easier for patients

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Morriston-HospitalA TEAM based at Morriston Hospital has tapped into technology to allow patients to ‘attend’ clinics without leaving home.

Getting to hospital for appointments is not always easy for anyone living in rural areas – and even more so for those with multiple sclerosis.

Now the regional MS team has won a prestigious award for making access much easier through the use of smart phones and tablets.

The team may be based in Morriston but it covers the ABMU and Hywel Dda areas, looking after people living as far north as Ceredigion.

Video conferencing facilities have been used for many years to allow Morriston staff to hold clinics in Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth.

This was increased in 2012 with the support of the MS Society, reducing traveling time and costs for the clinicians – but with no additional benefit to patients as they still had to get to Bronglais.

Last year, with the support of a pharmaceutical company, the team piloted the use of iPads for patients to have a consultation from either their home or their place of work.

Lead MS specialist nurse Helen Owen said: “When people with MS first start on disease modifying therapy they need to be seen regularly for blood monitoring. We also need to be sure their injection sites are okay and that they are tolerating their treatment well. They are seen one month after they start, then eight weeks after that and then three months so it’s a big commitment to make. We run clinics in Bronglais Hospital and have outreach clinics in other locations but that still means the patient has to travel. If they live in rural areas the condition of the roads could make attendance difficult, then there is their disability to consider.”

The pharmaceutical company’s support meant the team was able to buy iPads, which can be used to link with the patient’s tablet or phone.

Helen said: “Patients go to their local hospital or GP to have their bloods taken. We can then use the iPads to have a chat with them. If they are having problems with their injection sites, for example, they can show us. It’s much easier for them. One patient who is in work was able to have her review using the iPad from her office so she didn’t even have to take any time off.”

The service is available to patients in both ABMU and Hywel Dda health board areas. Surveys have confirmed they were all either satisfied or very satisfied with their experience.

Nicola Jones, from Llanelli, said: “It was great to not have the hassle of driving to clinic and find parking. Also, I had my consultation while I was at work so there was very little down time.”

The MS team has now won the best poster award at the national MS Trust Conference for its work developing the iPad clinics.

Dr Owen Pearson, consultant neurologist and clinical lead, said: “This is an important advance in developing both a patient centred and responsive service, as well as improving efficacy. The recent MS society report My MS, My Needs raised the difficulties people with MS living in rural areas face in accessing specialist services. The introduction of modern technology into clinical practice has improved this access.”

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Four further coronavirus cases confirmed in Hywel Dda area

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THE LATEST figures from Public Health Wales (PHW) reveal four new cases of coronavirus have been reported in the Hywel Dda Health Board Area.

As of today, June 2, Carmarthenshire identified three new cases, Pembrokeshire has one new case and none in Ceredigion, meaning the new totals stand at 732, 279 and 42.

Wales now has a total of 14,121, with 67 new cases and seven additional deaths recorded, bringing the death total to 1,354.

With Hywel Dda reporting 61 deaths to date.

Dr Giri Shankar, incident director for the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said: “Contact tracing continues in Wales as part of the Welsh Government’s ‘Test, Trace, Protect’ strategy. Contact tracing is the process of identifying people who have come in contact with an individual with Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) in order to prevent the risk of others spreading the infection in our communities.

“Anyone who has a positive Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) test will be contacted by a team of contact tracers, and asked for details of everyone they have had close contact with while they have had symptoms.

“Please keep a note of your activities so you can easily remember your whereabouts on a given day, along with who were in contact with. You do not need to have any concerns about providing names to the tracing team. This is for everyone’s benefit and we are grateful for your continued cooperation.

“If you are asked to self-isolate, you should also comply with this request to prevent further spread of the virus.

“Tracers are trained staff and personal information that you provide will handled in line with data protection regulations and will not be shared widely.

“Over the last few weeks, Public Health Wales has been setting up the methods and guidance for how contact tracing will operate. We will continue to work closely to support local health boards and local authorities in delivering contact tracing.

“Welsh Government’s revised lockdown arrangements also continue. People from two different households in the same local area can meet up outdoors, provided they continue to maintain social distancing and strict hand hygiene.

“The announcement adds that, as a general rule, people should not travel more than five miles from home. This will help to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading as people begin to travel more.

“Revised lockdown arrangements also apply to people in Wales who have been told to ‘shield’ from the virus. They are able to go outside and meet people from another household, provided they keep a two-metre distance.

“Future relaxation of lockdown measures will also be dependent on everyone following advice set out in the ‘Test, Trace, Protect’ strategy, including self-isolating when required.

“Information about the symptoms of Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) to look out for is available on the Public Health Wales website, or members of the public can use the NHS Wales symptom checker.

“Anyone experiencing Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) symptoms can now apply for a home testing kit using the new UK online portal. For further information and a link to the booking website, visit: www.gov.wales/coronavirus or www.llyw.cymru/coronafeirws. This will be supported by a national 119 phone service, through which people can also order a home test.

“We are encouraging everyone to download the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Symptom Study app, which has been supported by Welsh Government. The app allows users to log daily symptoms to help build a clearer picture of how the virus is affecting people. For more information, including how to download the app, visit covid.joinzoe.com.

“As part of wider support measures for families, Public Health Wales is offering all parents, parents-to-be, grandparents and care-givers free access to a series of online courses designed to help them understand the development and emotional milestones of their children, covering everything from pre-birth to late teens.

“To get access users just need to visit www.inourplace.co.uk and use the code ‘NWSOL’ if you live in North Wales, and ‘SWSOL’ if you live in Mid, West or South Wales.

“Public Health Wales is also continuing working to address the negative impact of Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) on the social, mental and physical wellbeing of people in Wales. Our latest campaign, ‘How are you doing?’ is now live and offering practical advice from phw.nhs.wales/howareyoudoing.

“Anyone with a suspected coronavirus illness should not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. They should only contact NHS 111 if they feel they cannot cope with their symptoms at home, their condition gets worse, or their symptoms do not get better after seven days.

“Only call 999 if you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, do not call 999 just because you are on hold to 111. We appreciate that 111 lines are busy, but you will get through after a wait.

“We also want to reinforce the message from NHS Wales that urgent and emergency care services for physical and mental health are still open and accessible.

“For parents, if your child is unwell and you are concerned you should seek help. If you have urgent dental pain you should still call your dentist. If you have a health complaint that is worrying you and won’t go away you should call your GP practice. If you or a family member are seriously ill or injured you should dial 999 or attend your nearest Emergency Department.”

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Carers Week goes interactive

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CARERS Week runs from Monday 8 June to Sunday 14 June. It is an annual campaign to recognise the contribution that unpaid Carers make to families and communities. Carers look after a friend or family member who cannot manage on their own because they have an illness, poor health, disability, mental health issue or an addiction.

This year so far has been particularly challenging since many people have had to carry on caring while seeing support services change dramatically or pause with no idea when things will go back to any kind of normal.

The Carers Unit and partners have been working hard to bring to carers across the county a big variety of ‘treats’ to let carers know that they are being thought of and to show them appreciation. An extra special Carers week e-bulletin that’s bursting with boredom busting ideas and sanity-saving tools & techniques has been prepared.

Coleg Ceredigion students, working with the Carers Unit, has been preparing online messages of thanks, a family-friendly carer quiz, a student pen-pal project and are encouraging Carers to join them on Sunday, 14 June to raise a cuppa for Carers at 3pm.

The Carers Unit and all of its partners invite Carers to join them at one or more of the over 30 free online sessions that have specifically designed with unpaid Carers in mind. No advance booking necessary.

To find out more information and how to join in with the Carers week celebrations, go to the Carers pages on the council website www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/social-care-wellbeing/support-for-carers/carers-week-2020 council social media pages or contact the Carers Unit on 01970 633564 / carersunit@ceredigion.gov.uk

‘It takes a strong person to carry on caring – it takes a stronger, more resilient person to reach out to others.’

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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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