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GP shortage ‘caused by Withybush downgrades’

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docsPEMBROKE residents have expressed concerns about reduced opening hours in the town’s doctors surgery as a result of a shortage of doctors. Since September 1, the surgery at St Oswald’s has closed at 1pm on weekdays. Until then, it had been open until 6.30pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The surgery, a member of the Argyle Medical Group which also has practices in Pembroke Dock and Neyland, serves Pembroke, Monkton, and a number of outlying communities in the area. The surgery in Pembroke Dock will remain open from 8am – 6.30pm.

However, concerns have been raised about how the reduction of provision in Pembroke will affect elderly patients, or those with reduced mobility. Speaking to The Herald, Practice Manager for the Argyle Medical Group Juliet Goldsworthy confirmed that the reduction in surgery hours was a deirect result of staff shortages: “We’re two doctors down at the moment – its a common problem across Wales,” she said.

Safety was apparently a major consideration for the shorter opening hours. The practice was unwilling to let one doctor work at the surgery alone. “Its about managing the surgery safely andwe can’t do that at the moment,” Ms Goldsworthy added.

When we asked how long the staff shortage had been a problem for, she said that the staffing shortages were ‘relatively recent,’ though admitted that they had ‘struggled on’ over recent months. However, staff holiday time had meant that they were unable to keep the current provision. “The first doctor left about 18 months ago, and we lost another one 12 months ago,” she added.

“We have been advertising in national publications, but haven’t had any response. Accepting that the situation for patients was ‘far from ideal,’ she said that the problem was an all-Wales issue. Ms Goldsworthy confirmed that the practice had 10.75 FTE (full-time equivalent) doctors.

There are around 25,000 patients registered with the practice, which equates to 2325 patients per GP. Several years ago, the average number of patients per GP in Wales was 1640, and while Ms Goldsworthy said that this had risen to around 1900-2000, she still acknowledged that Argyle Street still did not meet these levels.

“Its not ideal – it puts a lot of pressure on both patients and doctors,” she added. Ms Goldsworthy pointed out that Argyle Street employed full-time nurse practitioners, who worked supporting GPs, as well as a full-time pharmacist who could ease the burden on doctors with work related to medication. “We were one of the first practices to take on a full-time pharmacist,”she added. “The health board seems to be looking more at approaches like this now. I understand that patients hanker for days gone by, but times have changed.”

With regards to the opening hours at St Oswalds, Ms Goldsworthy told us that if two new doctors could be recruited the situation would be reviewed after six months. At present, she said that the practice has been advertising ways for those unable to drive to attend the Argyle Street Surgery to travel there more cheaply.

“Services like country cars, and public transport can save people money on taxis,” she pointed out. Ms Goldsworthy emphasised that the surgery would still be open in mornings, and that hopefully people who would struggle to get to Pembroke Dock would be able to attend then. “We do visit a lot of people at home, if they are unable to get out. Our visiting rates are quite high,” she added. She pointed out that a shortage of GPs could lead to a continuing problem, because constant staff-shortages would lead to an increased workload, and the job becoming less attractive for medical trainees.

“There is talk of a ‘Golden Hello’ in Wales, but I’m not sure what is going to become of that,” she said. Concerningly, Ms Goldsworthy agreed with other commentators, including Simon Hart MP, who has previously said that a reduction in service provision at Withybush will lead to a knock-on effect on the county’s medical community.

“As Withybush downgrades and less doctors come to work there, their partners, who often used to work in surgeries won’t come here either, leading to the health community shrinking. We had a doctor who worked with us who was fantastic, but his wife worked in paediatric care, and when the department in Withybush downsized she had to move to Swansea to find work.

“There may also be issues with GP training at the hospital.” Speaking to The Herald, MP Simon Hart agreed that Issues faced by Withybush Hospital were a definite contributing factor in staffing problems across the medical community in the area: “From what I can discover there is a definite connection between recruitment and uncertainty over Withybush. For once the problem is not entirely about money,” he said.

“For the County to be able to attract Doctors and their families, they need to assure them that the services have a future and that there is certainty as far as their jobs are concerned. The Welsh Labour Government continues to fail in this regard and our county suffers accordingly.” We asked Hywel Dda University Health Board whether this was a fair reflection, and what if anything could be done to attract more GPs to the county.

At the time of going to press The Herald had received no reply. A spokesperson for Hywel Dda UHB said: “We would strongly urge caution when drawing ‘definite’ links between recruitment issues at a hospital and GP level as there is no absolute or clear evidence for this. GP recruitment is challenging across Wales, this is well documented, and we are experiencing this in areas across Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion as well as Pembrokeshire.

“Whilst we are taking clear actions to address recruitment at our hospitals, we have numerous responses to recruitment challenges at a GP level. For example, we are in the process of developing a Primary Care Support Team to offer support to Practices with workforce issues to which we have successfully appointed a GP clinical lead and three Advanced Practitioners, due to start shortly.

“We are also supporting the development of other roles that can provide patient care in General Practice working alongside GPs. For example, Argyle Surgery have employed a practice based pharmacist to support the GPs on a day to basis. This is alongside developing portfolio GP roles to increase the appeal of working in the Hywel Dda area to those wanting diversity within their role.”

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Ceredigion Youth Service Awards Night Success

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Ysgol Henry Richard pupils receiving certificates.

ON Tuesday, 9 April, over 220 young people and their families, from across Ceredigion joined Ceredigion Youth Service to celebrate their annual Awards Night. The evening was an opportunity to celebrate and recognise the achievements and successes of all young people who have engaged with Ceredigion Youth Service during the past year.

Young people attended from each Secondary School in Ceredigion, Coleg Ceredigion, Ceredigion Training, young people working with the outreach service, and all the young people who attend youth clubs, youth projects and holiday provisions. There has been a wide variety of projects, activities and events held again this year, with up to 5,000 young people in attendance. These have been successful due to the commitment and enthusiasm shown by the young people from all over Ceredigion.

The special awards presented during the evening included awards for Young Volunteer of the Year, Outstanding Contribution awards, Campaign of the Year, Special Achievements and Community Engagement awards. In addition to the special award categories, numerous local certificates were celebrated and distributed to young people achieving national accreditations or to those who have participated in various clubs and projects.

Beca Fflur Williams, Chair of Ceredigion Youth Council leading the evening.

Catrin Miles, Cabinet member for Learning Services opened the evening. The evening was then hosted by Beca Fflur Williams, Chair of Ceredigion Youth Council. Guest speakers included Ashlie Day, Chloe Toose and Thomas Evans, Ceredigion Youth Service Young Volunteers. The awards were presented by Ellen ap Gwynn, Leader of Ceredigion County Council, Eifion Evans, Chief Executive of Ceredigion County Council and Hag Harris, Chairman of Ceredigion County Council. Clips were shown on the screen including a message from MP Ben Lake. The night was closed by Chelsea Jones and Louise Bryan, members of Penparcau Youth Club.

Elen James, Corporate Lead Officer for Lifelong Learning and Culture said, “Both Ceredigion Youth Service and the Council are extremely proud that over 400 young people have achieved awards through the Youth Service during the past year. Youth Service provision is hugely valuable to young people’s development as they transition into adulthood. Our youth clubs, outreach provision, work within schools and holiday programs offer a variety of opportunities for young people to be a part of something that supports and interests them.”

“The number of young people achieving awards, accreditation and certificates this year is a reflection of our young people’s commitment and enthusiasm across the county and it was a pleasure to welcome so many young people and their families to celebrate with us in Theatr Felinfach. Congratulations to you all!”

For more information or to find out what opportunities are available to you, head over to their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages at @GICeredigionYS or contact the team on youth@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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Students help to replace bridges at Parc y Llyn

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Replacement bridge at Parc y Llyn, with some of the students from the Countryside Management Course, Aberystwyth University,

STUDENTS of the Countryside Management Course at Aberystwyth University have been constructing two new bridges to replace the old structures at a popular riverside walk in Aberystwyth, near Morrisons.

Timber for the bridges, some of which was grown and milled on the University Farm, was made into kit form at the college workshop before being assembled on site to span two culverts alongside the river Rheidol.

Students gained experience in the whole bridge building process, from site assessment to the finished project, through the Practical Estates Skills Project. Also included in the project was, the construction of a kissing gate at Penglais woods using timber clefted from a chestnut tree at the Local Nature Reserve, and repair of some of the steps there.

This is the last year in which the Practical Estate Skills Project will be undertaken. This brings to an end a 20-year long partnership between the University and the County Council’s Coast & Countryside Section. Over the years, students have been given the opportunity to contribute to improving the footpaths, bridleways and public access in the various communities over that time.

Public Rights of Way Officer, Eifion Jones said, “Ceredigion County Council is very grateful for the work done and wishes to thank the students and course tutors for their contribution to the maintenance of the reserves.The two new foot bridges is a credit to them all, and will serve the community of Aberystwyth and the surrounding area for many years to come.”

Funding for the materials were financed by the Coast & Countryside section via the Welsh Assembly Environment and Sustainable Development Grant (ESD) and by Aberystwyth University. All work regarding the gate was financed by Aberystwyth University, including the felling of a sweet chestnut tree by a Tree Surgeon.

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Newcastle Emlyn: Luke Cuber-Hives burgled and set fire to Adpar heath shop

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A CARMARTHEN man has been jailed for the burglary and arson of the Riverside Health Shop in Adpar, Ceredigion last year.

Luke Cuber-Hives now of of Ty Croeso, Adpar, Newcastle Emlyn has been handed 54 months in custody.

Police have said: “An extensive enquiry received the support of the local community, who identified his involvement in further theft and fraud offences. Cuber-Hives appeared before
Swansea Crown Court yesterday, where he received a jail term totalling 54 months.”

Detective Inspector Richard Yelland, senior investigating officer into the enquiry, told The Ceredigion Herald: “This sentence sends a strong message that arson is a serious and dangerous act.

“Ceredigion has seen first-hand the devastating impact these mindless acts can have on victims, and the fear it spreads in the community. We saw in Aberystwyth that fire can quickly take hold and lives can be lost.

“In this case it appears, the fact that nobody was hurt was due to luck, rather than the judgement of Mr Cuber-Hives.

“I hope that anyone considering such behaviour will think twice before committing such offences with a long prison sentence waiting for those who get caught.”
The incident took place in the early hours of November 27, 2018

The 28-year-old was charged with stealing five charity collection boxes to a value unknown from Riverside Health Shop between November 26-27; committing fraud at Newcastle Emlyn by claiming he was collecting money for charity on November 26 and also stealing a set of ladders and marble worktop worth £350 from Riverside Café between November 19-20

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