AN ONLINE petition asking for the ‘return’ a Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) and complaining about the withdrawal of paediatric services at Bronglais Hospital, has caused ‘concern’ at the local health board.
The petition, on 38 Degrees, complains about the absence of SCBU services at Bronglais and says that the policy of centralising services at Glangwili: “has had a completely negative and adverse impact on health care in Ceredigion and other areas covered by Bronglais, with many families being forced to travel for an hour or more to reach the health care they desperately need at Glangwili.”
The petition goes on to say that: “Lives have been put at risk and will continue to be so by the removal of services in the Ceredigion catchment area. Severely ill children that would otherwise be seen locally and stabilised locally, are now having to wait many hours for a Paediatric team based either in Newport or Bristol to travel to Aberystwyth and then take the child to a hospital over an hour away at least, assuming that an incubator or bed is available at Carmarthen.
“The problems that the current centralisation policy have caused are horrendous to families and needs addressing immediately with the utmost urgency. We need all our health services back now starting with 24 hour continuation/return Obstetric and Paediatric Consultant cover in the quickest possible time.” The petition gained over 1,600 signatures since being launched on the week of April 22.
The Herald asked Hywel Dda University Health Board to comment on the petition and enquired whether any changes to service, including withdrawal of existing services, were planned for Bronglais.
In a forthright response, the Health Board denied that any changes to services were planned and suggested the petition’s terms of reference were ‘inaccurate’.
Health Board Medical Director Dr Philip Kloer said: “We have read with concern some inaccurate comments on social media recently in response to an online petition which calls for ‘the return of 24-hour paediatrics to Bronglais General Hospital.”
“To be absolutely clear, Bronglais Hospital continues to have 24 hour, seven day a week consultant led inpatient paediatric services.
“The petition makes reference to Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU/ or neonatal) services at Bronglais Hospital and implies that babies from the Ceredigion area are transferred elsewhere in Wales as a direct consequence of changes to services in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire in 2014. This is not the case.
“Whilst Bronglais Hospital has a joint consultant and midwife-led maternity unit, it does not have a SCBU and has never been a formal receiving hospital for special care babies. Clinical protocols are in place to minimise the potential for premature births at the hospital. In the event of a premature birth, facilities are available to stabilise and transfer babies either for special care at the SCBU in Carmarthen.
“Only babies requiring tertiary, specialist neonatal care are transferred to units in Swansea, Cardiff or Newport, as usual. These levels of neonatal services have never been available at any of the hospitals across the Hywel Dda University Health Board area.”
Royals set to visit Ceredigion during summer visit
AS PART of their annual summer visit to Wales, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will be visiting Ceredigion next month.
From July 2-6, Charles and Camilla will tour the country, undertaking over 20 engagements across the country.
On July 3, The Prince of Wales will visit Dà Mhìle Distillery, Llandysul, the first organic distillery in the UK approved by the Soil Association, where he was previously gifted the thousandth bottle to be produced by Dà Mhìle.
The Prince of Wales will also visit St. Gwenog’s Church, Llanwenog, and view their unique carvings created by Joseph Reubens, a Belgian World War One refugee. His Royal Highness will also meet members of their local community.
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall’s fourteenth annual Summer visit to Wales will feature celebrations to mark the 70th Anniversary of The National Health Service and the marking the 150th anniversary of the Heart of Wales railway line amongst other events.
A Clarence House spokesperson said: “The Prince and The Duchess are really looking forward to their annual summer visit to Wales where they will be celebrating key anniversaries for the National Health Service, the Heart of Wales railway line and the 90th anniversary of Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisation. Their Royal Highnesses relish the opportunity to meet members of the community who are making a difference to Welsh life.”
Social media used to groom children young as six
CHILDREN as young as six in Wales have been targeted across an array of online platforms in the first year following the introduction of anti-grooming laws.
A law of Sexual Communication with a Child came into effect in England and Wales on April 3, 2017, after an NSPCC campaign, and in the first year a total of 3,171 crimes were recorded by police forces – amounting to nine grooming offences per day.
A total of 274 offences were recorded across the four Welsh police forces in the same period.
More than half of the offences in Wales were logged by South Wales Police (158) with 53 in North Wales and 44 in the Gwent force area.
Dyfed-Powys Police supplied data for the period between October 2017 and April 2018 when 19 offences were recorded.
In Wales, grooming offences were recorded on 23 different platforms, with Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat comprising the top three most-commonly used with more than 120 taking place using those platforms alone.
Ninety-one crimes were reported in Wales against boys and girls aged between 12 and 15, while 56 offences were recorded against children aged 11 and under. The youngest victim recorded was just six years old.
Following the NSPCC’s #WildWestWeb campaign, the UK Government’s digital secretary Matt Hancock announced that laws will be brought in to regulate social networks, to keep children safe and prevent harms such as grooming.
The charity is now campaigning to ensure those laws are sufficiently robust to prevent grooming and to truly keep children safe.
It is calling on Government Create mandatory safety rules that social networks are legally required to follow; Establish an independent regulator to enforce safety laws and fine non-compliant sites; Require social media sites to publish annual safety reports; Force platforms to develop technology to detect grooming using algorithms.
It comes ahead of the charity’s annual flagship conference How Safe Are Our Children? which begins on Wednesday June 20 in London and has the theme Growing Up Online.
Contact offences such as rape and sexual assault were among those recorded in connection with grooming offences.
Mared Parry, from North Wales, was sent sexual messages from men 10 years older than her on Facebook when she was aged just 14.
Mared, who has waived her right to anonymity, was groomed to send semi-naked pictures to them.
She said: “At the beginning it was messages like ‘Hey, how are you?’ But as the weeks went on, they started sending messages that were more and more sexual. It was so subtle; that’s why it is so easy for an online chat to slip into being so wrong.
“If I didn’t reply or speak the way they wanted me to, then they would say: ‘You’re just too immature for me’. They were so manipulative, but you don’t even notice it.
“Looking back at it now, it’s scary to think that I sent semi-naked pictures to older guys. It could have gone a lot further.”
Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said: “These numbers are far higher than we had predicted, and every single sexual message from an adult to a child can have a huge impact for years to come.
“Social networks have been self-regulated for a decade and it’s absolutely clear that children have been harmed as a result.
“I urge digital secretary Matt Hancock to follow through on his promise and introduce safety rules backed up in law and enforced by an independent regulator with fining powers.
“Social networks must be forced to design extra protections for children into their platforms, including algorithms to detect grooming to prevent abuse from escalating.”
In Wales, NSPCC Cymru has called for the Welsh Government to co-ordinate and progress efforts to keep children as safe in their online worlds as they are offline.
Last year, Welsh Government announced plans to produce a children and young persons’ online safety action plan.
The NSPCC hopes it will deliver practical help and support for schools, parents and others in Wales involved in child protection online when it is published.
How Safe Are Our Children? takes place at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, in Westminster, London on June 20-21.
Grant money available to improve play areas in Ceredigion
CEREDIGION COUNTY COUNCIL has been awarded £100,800 from the Welsh Government’s Rural Communities Development Fund to finance capital works in four play areas across Ceredigion.
On June 19, the Council’s Cabinet authorised the project’s commencement.
The four play areas are Ponterwyd Play Area, Llanon Tennis Courts, Llanddewi Brefi Play Area and Cardigan Skate Park. The money will improve playing and leisure opportunities in these areas.
The full cost of the work is estimated to be £126,000, with the grant contributing 80% of the cost and the town and community councils will provide the remaining 20%.
The Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services and Lifelong Learning, Councillor Catrin Miles, said, “Quality and safe playing opportunities are important to the county’s children as well as for their parents. I’m delighted that the Cabinet could authorise such a project and I’m sure the play areas will be well used after being improved.”
The project may start from July 18, 2018 and must end by April 30, 2019.
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