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University scheme begins to address GP shortages

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AS Wales sees a critical shortfall in the number of family doctors to serve the increasing patient demand generated by a growing and aging population, three Welsh universities are running a pilot scheme designed to bring young doctors to North and Mid Wales.

The CARER (Community & Rural Education Route) programme, run by Cardiff University in partnership with Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities, will give Cardiff medical students the opportunity to have a year of their education delivered in GP practices in North and Mid Wales, giving them invaluable experience of working closely with clinicians and patients in community settings.

Professor Siladitya Bhattacharya, Head of Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, said: “A number of GP surgeries in Mid and North Wales face closure due to fewer GPs who can replace those who retire or leave.

“While the Government’s Train Work Live campaign has seen an increase in the number of junior doctors choosing to work in Wales, recruitment is still a problem in rural areas. At Cardiff University School of Medicine we want to train an outstanding medical workforce to serve all communities across the whole of Wales.”

The new scheme will build on Cardiff University’s existing practice of ensuring its medical students are offered placements all over the county in a wide variety of settings, and complements Welsh Government’s plans to expand medical education across Wales through a collaboration between Cardiff and Bangor Universities that aims to allow students to study all of their medical degree in North Wales in the near future.

Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething, said: “I am very pleased to see this scheme providing the chance for our next generation of doctors to study in rural Wales, ahead of the roll-out of full-time North Wales medical degrees. These excellent examples of collaboration between our universities will greatly help towards bringing GPs to traditionally hard to recruit areas in North and West Wales.”

Starting in September 2018, CARER will see seven students placed in Aberystwyth and five in Bangor. They will complete all of their third year in these locations before returning to Cardiff to finish their degrees.

Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, said: “We are delighted to welcome the first cohort of Cardiff University medical students to study here at Aberystwyth University, and to make available to them the excellent study, support and recreational facilities we have to offer. From experience, we know that medical students tend to want to continue working near to where they study. By offering this opportunity to study in Mid and West Wales, we very much hope they will also see a professional future here, and in so doing help address the shortage of healthcare professionals working in the region.”

The first programme of its kind in Wales, initially CARER will only be available for existing third year medical students. Similar schemes have already been piloted in other countries and have proven successful.

Professor Nichola Callow of Bangor University said: “This is another excellent step forward on our journey to establish a full medical degree at Bangor, and it also complements our existing healthcare education. This initiative will have great benefits to both students and communities across Wales.”

Some of the positive elements reported from similar programmes around the world include students acquiring an enhanced understanding of patient needs, better-developed communication skills and stronger working relationships with patients, fellow students and healthcare professionals.

Ella Wooding, one of the Cardiff University students taking part in the CARER scheme, said: “I have really enjoyed the GP teaching I have had in the first two years of medical school, and so I thought that CARER sounded like a fantastic opportunity! I also thought it would be a good chance to explore more of Wales and experience something different to Cardiff life.”

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The county’s play areas to close

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ALL THOSE who manage Ceredigion Play Areas have been asked to close their play areas as of Monday, 23 March 2020.

This decision doesn’t come lightly as they are wonderful places to enjoy. However, you may have noticed people are still meeting in outdoor parks and communal areas outside. We must protect our communities and strive to ensure that people stay away from places where they can come together, especially children and young people who are not currently attending school. It is also important to note, it is reported that Coronavirus can remain on surfaces, including metals and plastics.

The Council requires all playground owners / managers in Ceredigion to ensure that the community keep away from the play spaces. These include community spaces, parks and skate parks.

If there is a gate or fence around the play area, it will be locked and a poster placed on the entrance. For those areas without a fence or gate, the poster will be put in a suitable place so that the public can understand that it is not safe for them to use the play area at present.

We thank all who are helping to deal with the Coronavirus outbreak responsibly.

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Community

The latest on plastic free Ceredigion

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At its meeting held on 17 March, the Council’s Cabinet received an activity update from the Plastic Free Ceredigion Task and Finish Group, which was set up after full Council approved a motion on 22 February 2018.

Full Council approved the ‘Plastic Free campaigns throughout the County, including Plastic Free Aberporth and Plastic Free Aberystwyth’ motion to ensure that the Council helps to reduce the amount of single use plastics used in our day to day operations.

The motion involved a number of factors including; reducing single-use plastics within Council facilities and offices and encouraging local businesses, organisations, schools and communities to move away from single-use plastics and use sustainable alternatives. Promoting the use of sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics at all Council supported events, supporting beach cleans and any other events which aim to raise awareness of the issues of single-use plastics.

Since 22 February 2018, the Council have removed 5 single-use plastic that were used across the local authority, implemented projects in conjunction with NRW with local primary schools, worked closely with communities throughout Ceredigion and commenced the provision of Water bottle re-fills on request to all visitors to our public facing buildings.

In January 2020, the Schools Service were successful in bidding for funding from the Circular Economy Capital Fund, which allows for the purchasing of milk dispensers which will remove the need for the provision of plastic milk bottles and straws by 1,979 pupils at Foundation and Key Stage 2. This is equivalent to a reduction of 376,010 plastic milk bottles per school year.

Councillor Alun Williams, Member Champion for Sustainability said, “These are initiatives which, together, make a real difference to the amount of single-use plastics going into the waste stream from Council activities. Whilst it’s important that everyone seeks to minimise their use of single-use plastics, it’s particularly important that large organisations like councils take these kinds of actions because they can have a wider effect which, in turn, can lead to industry changing to more sustainable practices. Ceredigion Council is trying to lead the way in showing what’s possible within an organisation.”

This supports one of the Council’s corporate priority of Promoting Environmental and Community Resilience.

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Community

Cabinet decision on former care home still stands

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The Council’s Cabinet met on Tuesday 17 March to discuss the recommendation put forward by the Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Monday 16 March, regarding the future of the former care home, Penparcau.

Following the discussion at Cabinet, it was decided not to support the recommendation put forward by the Committee. The Cabinet’s original decision made on 25 February will now be implemented.

The Committee recommended that Cabinet postpone progressing the sale of the former care home for 6 months, given the current situation regarding coronavirus, and following that period, both the Corporate Resources and Healthier Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committees reconsider the matter of future EMI Nursing in Ceredigion. The recommendation was made after councillors used the Councils’ call in process to review the Cabinet’s decision on 25 February 2020.

Councillor Rhodri Evans is the Cabinet member for Economy and Regeneration. He said, “The Council has actively sought the appropriate re-use of the former care home over a lengthy period of time. The Council initially undertook a procurement exercise to identify a provider between 2015 and 2017 and since 2018 sought to sell the property for a preferred use since. Both approaches have been unsuccessful. After careful consideration, it’s now time to consider alternative options for disposing of this asset and attract investment in the property. The money raised from the sale can then be used towards supporting service providing care elsewhere in the County.

The Council will continue to discuss options with Hywel Dda University Health Board for providing improved EMI provision in the County.”

The Council will liaise with Registered Social Landlords in the hope that a purchase can be agreed within 3 months. This is due to the continued need for affordable housing in the County. If this cannot be achieved, the land will be sold on the open market without identifying any preferred uses.

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