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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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Communities and staff thanked for flood support

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COMMUNITIES and staff have been thanked for their work during the Storm Callum Floods. The October floods caused great damage to homes, businesses, roads and bridges in the south of Ceredigion. The floods were the biggest flood event in the last 31 years in Ceredigion.

During the flooding, the council supported the emergency services to prioritise the saving of lives. This included making sure that roads and bridges made dangerous by floodwater were closed. The council’s emergency response and recovery procedures were carried out during the event. Multi-agency emergency procedures were also carried out.

Ceredigion County Council Chief Executive, Mr Eifion Evans said, “Council staff went above and beyond their duties over the weekend of the floods. I saw their efforts with my own eyes; staff who weren’t on duty were offering to come in to help our residents. We had to send some staff home as they wanted to work longer than the 12 hour maximum that staff are allowed to work in one shift.

I have also been impressed by the huge efforts made by communities to help each other during, and in the aftermath of the flooding.”

After water levels dropped, council staff from Community Wellbeing, Housing and Highways Teams immediately went to the affected areas to offer practical support and advice. They also saw the extent of the damage that had been caused.

Everyone who has been in touch with the council has been offered help with housing, including being offered emergency temporary accommodation where needed. The Housing Team have worked with local landlords and B&B owners to provide additional accommodation, and to provide ongoing support for people who have been affected by the flood.

The Community Wellbeing Team have also provided advice and specialist equipment to residents to help to begin to dry out their homes. This support is ongoing.

The council organised drop-in sessions in Lampeter, Newcastle Emlyn, Llandysul and Llechryd. The sessions were attended by many organisations that can offer support and advice. The sessions gave residents the chance to ask the organisations any questions they had about recovering from the flood.

The Highways Team have arranged a free service to pick-up and dispose of flood damaged materials and have put skips in local household waste sites for flood damaged possessions. The team also cleared 100 tons of earth from the B4459 near Capel Dewi after a landslide covered the road. The Highways Team also repaired damaged roads and bridges.

Mr Evans continued, “The council is dedicated to helping our residents recover from the devastating effects of the recent floods. I understand that the impact is still very raw for people who have been affected, especially those who have been made homeless. I want to reassure every resident that our committed staff are working hard to help you. Despite severe pressure on council budgets, we will do everything in our power to continue to offer practical help to residents.”

A flood recovery group has met regularly to look at how the Council can target help in the most effective way. A further flood newsletter will be published in the near future. The Council will also be hosting flood advice surgeries and building on the work of developing emergency support groups for flooding.

More information about the help the council can offer is available on the website on www.ceredigion.gov.uk/stormcallumfloods

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Training company enjoy successful open evening

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HYFFORDDIANT CEREDIGION TRAINING (HCT) enjoyed a successful open evening on November 7 as it opened its doors to the public.

Opening HCT’s doors gave people the opportunity to see the fantastic range of training opportunities available for them. This included opportunities for young people who are interested in seeing what apprenticeships HCT has to offer.

Mark Gleeson, Manager for Post 14 Vocational Learning said, “It is important that HCT holds open evenings to showcase different learning opportunities that are available to all learners. HCT offers a large number of apprenticeships which ensures that the next generation of skilled workforce is being trained and employed by local companies. This is very important to the economy of Ceredigion.”

There was an opportunity to have a tour of the building, to speak to tutors, to have a look at the workshops, and to see trainees and apprentices in action. This gave a flavour of the kind of work that is done daily at the training centre.

Traineeships and apprenticeships, but also evening classes, are taught at HCT, as Councillor Catrin Miles, Cabinet Member for Learning Service and Lifelong Learning explains, “If studying towards a full qualification in a given trade is not what you are after, but you want to gain some of the basic skills in the various routes HCT specialises in, why not join an evening class? The next round of evening courses are beginning now. So, what are you waiting for? Contact HCT to see what it has to offer you.”

Evening classes run for six weeks and HCT offers these 2-3 times per year. HCT offers a range of vocational courses for people of all ages, including Hairdressing, Childcare, Business Administration, Information Technology, Carpentry, Plumbing, Electrics, Blacksmithing, Agriculture, Motor Mechanics and Welding.

For more information, find ‘Hyfforddiant Ceredigion Training’ on Facebook, or visit the website, http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/public-it/hct/index.html

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Vandalism at coastguard lookout point

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POLICE are investigating vandalism at the old coastguard lookout point at Bird’s Rock.

A council spokesperson said: “We’re very sad to see vandalism to the old coastguard look out at Bird’s Rock on the coastal path a mile to the west of New Quay last week.

“All five windows was smashed – some even had their wooden frames ripped out.”

Melanie Heath, Ceredigion County Council’s Marine Protected Area Officer, added: “This act of vandalism is so distressing to see. The look-out was restored thanks to a special grant from the Crown Estate. It is used by our Dolphin and Porpoise Watch volunteers throughout the monitoring season. It is also a special place for many local people and visitors alike to sit for a while and take in the spectacular views of Cardigan Bay.”

If anyone has any information, contact Heddlu Dyfed Powys Police on 101

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