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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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Alerts issued ahead of Storm Brian

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NATURAL RESOURCE WALES (NRW) is warning people that parts of the Welsh coast could see localised flooding as Storm Brian combines with high tides this evening and tomorrow.

The conditions could cause a storm surge, which in some areas could lead to overtopping of sea defences. Current predictions show that the worst affected areas are likely to be along exposed sections of the west coast of Wales from Southern Gwynedd to Llantwit Major.

High tides in these locations are expected to peak between 6am and 11am tomorrow (Oct 21).

NRW has already issued a number of flood alerts for the west coast, and is likely to issue flood warnings for Aberystwyth and Newgale later today. Further alerts or warnings for other areas will be issued as necessary.

24/7 Emergency response workers from NRW will be out at key areas of the coast over the next couple of day to monitor the high tides and condition of its sea flood defences.

NRW has also contacted its partner agencies such as local councils and the emergency services to ensure that appropriate responses are in place should the need arise.

Richard Hancox, from Natural Resources Wales said: “Conditions across the coastline are likely to be extremely dangerous this weekend and we urge people to stay clear, and avoid visiting the coast during this time.

“We know people are tempted to try and take photos of these storms, but it really isn’t worth putting your life at risk. Sea spray and flood water can knock you off your feet easier than you might think, and the large waves can send debris flying onto shore.

“If anyone is concerned about the risk of flooding to their home, please check to see if flood warnings are available in your area, and visit our website for advice on how best to prepare.”

Flood alerts and flood warnings are updated on the Natural Resources Wales website every 15 minutes.

Information and updates are also available by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188. People can also register for free flood warnings either by calling the Floodline number or at NRW’s website.

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​Major bequests for Aber research ​

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TWO major legacies to support postgraduate research have been announced at Aberystwyth University’s Founders’ Day held in the Old College on October 13.

The University revealed that Eleanor and David James had donated £2m to the institution where they both worked for 35 years, while former student Margaret Wooloff has bequeathed £400,000.

Both bequests will be used to fund postgraduate research at the University, in line with the wishes of the benefactors.

The legacies were announced as part of the University’s now annual Founders’ event, which echoes the celebrations held in the town back in October 1872 when the first students arrived at Old College.

The Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, Professor Elizabeth Treasure, said: “It is extremely fitting that these very special bequests have been the focal point of this year’s Founders’ Day event. They remind us how the University has been supported since its early beginnings by the generosity of the people of Wales and the wider world.

“Eleanor and David James, and Margaret Wooloff all dedicated their lives to the furtherance of knowledge and their valuable contributions to education in Wales will live on in their legacies. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”

The Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Aberystwyth University, Louise Jagger, said: “There is a very strong bond between the University and our family of alumni across the world. Eleanor and David James and Margaret Wooloff were all active members of the Old Students’ Association during their lives and we are immensely grateful to them for their support over the years. Their generous legacies will now enable the scholars of the future to pursue their particular fields of expertise and undertake research with impact, which is integral to our mission as a leading University.”

Members of the local community joined staff and students at the Old College to mark Founders’ Day.

The guest speaker at the event was Ceredigion MP Ben Lake who said: “The story of how Aberystwyth University – or the University College of Wales as it was originally called – is one in which we can all take pride as a nation. Driven by the vision of its founders, the dream of establishing a college with University status in Wales was made possible thanks to the generosity of ordinary people. The roots and foundations of the University reflect our values in Wales and it is vitally important that we commemorate and celebrate this very special heritage.

“May I take this opportunity to congratulate Aberystwyth on being named recently as the University of the Year for Teaching Quality by the Good University Guide – a well deserved accolade which is testament to the dedication of all its staff.”

In July 2017, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced that it had earmarked £10.5m for ambitious plans to redevelop Old College in time for the University’s 150th anniversary in 2022.

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Driving Wales to international skills success

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AS SKILLS CHAMPION for Wales, Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion principal Barry Liles is at the forefront of aspiring young people to develop high quality, world-class skills.

The vehicle used to drive this ambition are skills competitions, which are held on a Welsh, UK and international level.

Competitions in Wales begin with regional Welsh Government supported competitions which are events that culminate to find Wales’ top competitors who progress to take part in UKSkills national and WorldSkills international events.

This year, 36 competitors from the UK are competing at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi, four of which are from Wales, two of which represent Coleg Sir Gâr, which is an impressive percentage of UK representation. These competitors have undergone a rigorous training process by WorldSkills UK, supported by training providers and employers.

Coleg Sir Gâr students have been selected for Team UK since 2009 when carpentry student Cliff Williams made the team in 2009 competing in WorldSkills Calgary. He was followed by web designer David Bowen who competed for in WorldSkills London, 2011. Carpenter Gareth Jones won gold in EuroSkills in 2012 followed by Simon McCall and Eleni Constantinou who won two silvers at EuroSkills in 2014 for hairdressing and carpentry with Eleni progressing to represent the UK and Coleg Sir Gâr in hairdressing at WorldSkills, Sao Paulo in 2015.

Last year, the college was ranked joint third place in the UK for its medal success in the Skills Show – the UK final, for achieving three golds, one silver and one bronze award. The show, held at Birmingham’s NEC every year, brings together medal winners from all nations to compete and showcase their skills and to hopefully continue their journey to the international arena, representing the UK in Worldskills which brings over 50 competing countries together and is likened to the Olympic games.

Barry Liles, Skills Champion for Wales said: “To have an impact on the economy and raise Wales and UK’s GVA, we must raise the skills of the UK population and we’re trying to do this from a young age and we’re significantly targeting industries that are important to Wales’ economy.

“The anticipated result is hoped to impact on young people and help them raise their ambitions and to find highly skilled work.”

In Wales, to help achieve this ambition, is a Welsh-Government funded project called Inspiring Skills Excellence (ISE), which is providing a supportive infrastructure to enable competitors from Wales to achieve success at national and international level.

“Much of our work is supporting competitors across Wales in their participation, training and mentoring to help them achieve excellence in skills relevant to economic growth and delivering medal winning success at national and international competitions,” said Paul Evans, ISE pan-coordinator for Wales.

“Using state of the art equipment we also engage with schools, providing hands-on and exciting experiences for young people to raise awareness of careers and the pathways available to them.”

Barry Liles added: “Being Skills Champion for Wales is a long-held ambition perhaps because I came from a vocational engineering background, I am very passionate about it.

“Industry skills are vital in our economy and I don’t want Wales to be left behind, in fact in the last seven years we have helped drive the nation forward to being one of the leading and successful nations in UK skills competitions.”

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