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​Three-month sexual health pilot scheme launched

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​PATIENTS living in Ceredigion​ ​can now take advantage of a new pilot service aimed at making it easier to check if they have any sexual health worries without having to see a doctor or nurse.

The three-month ​’Test and Go​’ pilot is a minimal contact service for people who do not have any symptoms or concerns, but who would like to take a sexual health test for peace of mind.

Patients who request the service will be invited to a specialist clinic and given a pack with instructions to test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea. Blood tests for HIV and syphilis can also be carried out at this time if requested.

Patients will be shown to a bathroom where they are asked to provide a swab or sample, which they simply leave in a specimen container before they leave.

Results are usually sent to patients via text message within 7-10 days, and the text message will either explain that all results are negative – meaning that no infection has been found – or, the text message will advise patients to contact the clinic to make a further appointment.

Jonathan Stevens is currently studying as a medical student​ in Ceredigion​. He is supportive of the scheme.

“I think people would normally be nervous about going to talk to their GP about anything regarding sexual health. It is sometimes the case that if they had gone sooner, they may have avoided a certain issue they are experiencing. I like the idea (of providing kits) – it means people have more access to checking for themselves, and that is a good thing.”

The scheme is designed not just to make keeping an eye on sexual health easier, but also to help ease the long waiting times being experienced by GPs.

​Local GP ​Dr. Sue Fish ​is hoping the scheme will allow for a more patient awareness, allowing for more focused time spent with GPs.

She said: “It will ease the pressures on the GP service if more people can access kits through the sexual health clinics. There is currently limited access to the sexual health services in Aberystwyth and I am not aware that the proposed scheme will increase the number of appointments available. I hope however that it will increase the availability of appointments for patients who want to be screened.”

Lisa Humphrey, Service Delivery Manager for Sexual Health and Gynaecology at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “Very often we find that patients might not have any specific symptoms to indicate a sexual health problem, but they still want to be screened anyway for their own peace of mind.

“The Test and Go pilot is about providing a quick and easy way for them to test themselves, without needing to see a doctor or nurse. This has the advantage of freeing up clinical and consultation times.”

The scheme has also received support from the social care sector. A spokesperson for Mencap, the nationwide learning disability support charity, welcomed the news.

They said​:​ “Having discussed the scheme with several colleagues it can only be beneficial and a great support to all groups including the people we support. Mencap strive to support people to access all resources available to them within the community; a more simplified process and system will benefit all. More information regarding Test & Go would be very appreciated by the teams and some of the people we support.”

Hywel Dda’s Sexual Health Service offers open access and appointed clinics in a variety of locations offering contraception, sexual health screening, pregnancy testing, cervical screening and information and advice about sexual health. They can accessed in Ceredigion in both Aberystwyth’s North Road Clinic on Queen’s Avenue and the Cardigan & District Hospital.

For more information on ​’Test and Go​’ or to book an appointment, phone the Sexual Health Service on 01267 248674.

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Young women in Ceredigion make their voices heard

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PERIOD poverty, access to mental health services and equal pay were among the issues raised by young women on International Women’s Day 2019.

On 8 March, in collaboration with the Young Women’s Trust, Ben Lake MP hosted a ‘Real Talk’ workshop aimed at young women aged 16 to 30 years old. Young women from all walks of life came together at the Coliseum Coffee House to voice their concerns and share their hopes for the future with the local MP.

Ben Lake said: “It was great to hear new ideas for change and to discuss ways in which we can improve the lives of young people in Ceredigion. The experiences of women and girls must be heard, both locally and nationally. After all, it is impossible for policies to be truly effective if they do not reflect the wishes, and address the challenges faced by all in society.”

(Credited to Lauren Garside, Year 1 Coleg Ceredigion Media Production student) The ‘Real Talk’ workshop held on International Women’s Day at Ceredigion Museum.

The young women set out three priorities for Ben Lake to campaign for on their behalf at Westminster:

1. Education: ensure that equality issues and mental health awareness training is included on all PGCE courses
2. Increase the national minimum wage for apprentices and roll out National Living Wage for under-25s
3. Period poverty: campaign, raise awareness and look to introduce policies to mitigate the effects of period poverty

Period poverty in particular, was an issue that the young women felt needed tackling as a matter of urgency. A recent report from FreedomforGirls* found that period poverty has a direct impact on education, with pupils in the UK missing class every month due to their periods. A RightsInfo investigation** discovered thousands of women were relying on food banks to get through their monthly periods.

In an attempt to tackle period poverty, the UK Chancellor confirmed in his Spring Statement that secondary schools in England will start providing menstrual products free of charge to girls from September onwards. Ben Lake MP has encouraged the Welsh Government to follow suit.

Ben Lake said: “All women, regardless of age, social status or background, should be able to easily access the menstrual products they need.

“Too many girls miss out on vital education each month as a lack of access to menstrual products forces them to miss school. Even those pupils who do not suffer period poverty will benefit from free access to sanitary products, ensuring no child is without protection during what can be a very stressful and vulnerable time.”

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New Welsh language resources for Ceredigion childminders

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FROM April this year, childminders across Ceredigion will have the chance to use the special Welsh ‘Sach Stori’ resource. This aims to promote Welsh language skills to children in the county.

Cered: Menter Iaith Ceredigion has been working with Ceredigion County Council’s Childcare Unit to develop story packs which include a Welsh/bilingual story and a pack of resources that will be available to registered childminders in Ceredigion. The project has been in development for the last two years. The finished packs will be available to the county’s childminders from 18 March. The resource will be officially launched at a story session in Awen Teifi, Cardigan on 3 April at 10am.

Llinos Hallgarth, Cered’s Development Officer said, “This is an exciting project based on a period of co-operation with the county’s childminders to ensure a package that will be of particular benefit to them. The pack contains a story as well as educational materials that can reinforce the story or message of the story, all of which are in Welsh.”

“In order to encourage their use, we will be holding practical sessions for childminders across the county so that they can familiarise themselves with the finished pack and methods of presenting it.”

Emma Poole from the Childcare Unit said, “Sach Stori will be a great help to the Welsh and Non-Welsh speaking childminders to try and integrate the Welsh language into everyday life. This project will help childminders to deliver the Welsh language in an enjoyable way within the home.”

This project reinforces the work the Childcare Unit is aiming to do to raise awareness of the use of the Welsh language within childcare settings. This project will help settings to meet the requirements of the Care Inspectorate Wales and also support Welsh Government’s efforts to reach a million Welsh speakers by 2050.

The 10 ‘Sach Stori’ will be available to childminders and will be regularly renewed to keep them updated.

For further information contact Llinos Hallgarth at Cered: Menter Iaith Ceredigion on 01545 572 358 or call the Contact Centre on 01545 570 881 and ask to speak to Emma Poole at the Childcare Unit.

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Council preparing for Brexit

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WITH Brexit discussions ongoing and regularly in the headlines, Ceredigion County Council has been preparing for a range of potential impacts of Brexit. The preparations are designed to minimise any negative effects that Brexit could have on Ceredigion residents.

Eifion Evans is the Chief Executive of Ceredigion County Council. He said, “We don’t know how Brexit is going to pan out. We hope that there will be little or no disruption to residents or council services. However, we are making careful preparations to minimise any negative impacts that Brexit could have.”

The council has been preparing in many different ways. Some of these include:

Working with companies that provide food to schools and canteens to see how different kinds of Brexit could affect their ability to provide ingredients. Plans have been made to replace ingredients that can’t be sourced to others if Brexit affects food coming into the country.

Council Social Care Officers have been working closely with companies who carry out social care services for the council. The officers have been helping companies to plan for Brexit situations with or without a deal. Common themes that the companies have been discussing surround medical and food supplies and staffing.

Human Resources have been identifying EU nationals who work for the council and who work for services commissioned by the council. Plans are being made to help them apply for settled status when the process starts on 29 March. Plans are also being made to help residents from EU countries to apply.

Environmental Health Officers have looked into the likely impact on officers to provide additional export licensing to companies exporting certain foods to EU countries after Brexit.

The council is contributing fully as an active member of the Dyfed Powys Local Resilience Forum. The multi-agency forum covers the Dyfed Powys Police area. It is responsible for managing serious risks to the community on a joint basis.

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