THE WELSH AMBULANCE SERVICE TRUST (WAST) has told AMs that almost 40,000 hours were ‘lost’ in 2014 because of so-called ‘handover delays’. The evidence given to the Senedd’s Health and Social Care Committee on March 5, also reports that the figure is up from around 8,000 hours lost in 2008.
Giving evidence to the assembly’s Health and Social Care Committee on the March 5, WAST’s Chairperson, Mick Giannasi, told AM’s that the ambulance service’s performance is unacceptable. He went on to detail actions intended to tackle ‘long-standing and complex problems’.
The session before the Senedd began with the testimony of Professor Siobhan McClelland, who is chair of the emergency ambulance service committee (EASC) and the author of a 2013 review into emergency transport provision. Suggesting that the eight minute target time for ambulance response times was outdated, she commented: “There is limited evidence to support the existence of the eight-minute target. I think there is a move towards looking specifically, in addition to the eight-minute target, at the most life-threatening or red 1 calls and focusing on those.”
Her contribution was supported by the new ambulance service commissioner, Stephen Harrhy, who said: “There are a number of conditions where it is absolutely essential that we get to a patient as quickly as we possibly can. In some cases, eight minutes is an appropriate time for that; in some cases, it’s less than eight minutes. So, we have to be ambitious. I also think that the standard is an old standard, and it is time to have a re-look at that.”
With reference to the targets, figures for December show that WAST’s ‘unacceptable level of service delivery’ meant that only 42.6% achieved the target time of eight minutes.
One concerned member of staff told us that ambulances based in Pembrokeshire have been forced to cover incidents in Ceredigion and as far afield as Llandeilo, as Carmarthenshire-based ambulances have been overwhelmed by calls to Swansea and beyond.
Shadow Health Minister, Plaid Cymru’s Elin Jones, highlighted the issue of ambulances waiting at hospitals outside their home areas: “I am concerned that ambulances from Blaenau Gwent or Ceredigion or Powys, when they are making transfers to centres, Morriston or Cardiff, then end up as part of the response call in those areas and do not return, possibly for a whole shift, to the areas where they were meant to be serving to start with.”
Without flexibility from unions on staff rosters and cooperation from health boards, WAST’s Chief Executive Tracy Myhill painted a bleak picture: “We need to work with the health boards. We can’t do this on our own, absolutely. If we were perfect, if all our rotas were perfect and our sickness absence was really low, we still couldn’t provide the service that we would need, because we can’t do it without the whole system.”
Pubs, restaurants and cafes in Wales will be banned from serving alcohol from Friday
PUBS, restaurants and cafes in Wales will be banned from serving alcohol from Friday and will be unable to open to customers beyond 18:00 HTS.
First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the new rules to tackle a rise in coronavirus cases.
Cinemas, bowling alleys, bingo halls, museums and galleries will also need to shut from Friday.
Mr Drakeford said without changes there could be between 1,000 and
1,700 preventable deaths over the winter.
Businesses will be allowed to provide a takeaway service after 18:00 of food or non-alcoholic drinks.
First Minister Mark Drakeford made the announcement during the Welsh Government briefing at 12.15pm on Monday, November 30.
The new restrictions are modelled on Scotland’s Tier 3 restrictions – you can see more details of the announcement here and follow below for live updates from Mr Drakeford’s press conference.
Mr Drakeford said said the measures were based on advice from the UK’s Sage group of scientific advisors and would be reviewed on December 17.
“From 6pm on Friday, our national measures will be amended to introduce new restrictions for hospitality and indoor entertainment attractions,” he said.
“Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes will have to close by 6pm and will not be allowed to serve alcohol. After 6pm they will only be able to provide takeaway services.
“From the same date, indoor entertainment venues, including cinemas, bingo halls, bowling alleys, soft play centres, casinos, skating rinks and amusement arcades, must close.
“Indoor visitor attractions, such as museums, galleries and heritage sites will also have to close. Outdoor visitor attractions will remain open.”
At Friday’s Welsh Government press conference, First Minister Mark Drakeford said that further restrictions on hospitality would be needed to ensure that there is enough headroom for Wales to relax coronavirus restrictions in time for Christmas.
He said the R number in Wales is now as high as 1.4 meaning the virus is spreading exponentially again.
He said that discussions were underway to finalise the details of the new arrangements and there would be a “major package of financial support”. He said more details would be announced on Monday.
He said: “The Cabinet has agreed to take further specific and targeted action to reinforce the current national measures we have place.
“We will focus these on places where we meet and where coronavirus thrives, drawing on the recent evidence from the UK Sage group of experts about what interventions have had the biggest impact on the virus.
” It has highlighted the positive impact of measures in the Scottish level three system and the English tier three restrictions.
” We are already doing many of these here in Wales. Any additional actions we will take will build on the Sage advice but will be bespoke to our unique circumstances.
“Cinemas, bowling alleys and other indoor entertainment venues will close.
“There will be new restrictions in the hospitality industry, which will come into effect next Friday.
“The sector has worked hard to put in place measures to protect the public and I know this will be a worrying time for all working in the industry.
“We will be working over the weekend with partners to finalise the details of the new arrangements and to put in place a further major package of financial support to respond to those changes.
“I will give further details about the package on Monday.
“Non-essential retail; hairdressers; gyms and leisure centres will continue to operate as now.
“These new arrangements will apply to the whole of Wales.”
Mr Drakeford said it was needed because there were very high rates in some parts of Wales.
He said: “All this is necessary because we need a further national effort to bring down rates in those parts of the country where they are high and to protect those areas from getting any worse, where cases are lower.
“A national approach can protect us all.”
He added: “We are particularly concerned about the increases we’re seeing in people under 25.
“Over the course of the pandemic, this is how the virus has spread – initially among younger age groups and then to older and more vulnerable groups.
Mr Drakeford said Wales would not be able to relax restrictions at Christmas unless he took action now.
He said: “Earlier this week, I met the First Ministers from Scotland and Northern Ireland and Michael Gove, from the UK Government, to discuss a common set of arrangements for Christmas.
“We agreed a five-day period between December 23 and 27 where travel restrictions would be lifted across the UK and up to three households would be able to form a Christmas bubble.
“Relaxing the restrictions will allow families to be together – maybe for the first time this year – for a few days over the festive period.
“But there is always a risk that when we come together we will spread or catch the virus.
“We therefore need to make sure have as much headroom as possible as we approach this Christmas period to enable us to relax these restrictions.
“This week we have seen restrictions tightened and extended in many countries across Europe.
“The UK Government has announced a strengthened tier regime, which comes into force in England from Wednesday. Northern Ireland today starts a new two-week lockdown and Scotland has extended the highest level restrictions.
“We too now have to use the coming weeks to reduce the spread of the virus and create more headroom for the Christmas period.”
Jail after heroin worth £45,000 seized
AN ABERYSTYWYTH woman has been jailed, and an organised crime gang disrupted, after heroin worth £45,000 was found at her home.
Dyfed-Powys Police found more than 400g of the class A drug during a warrant at Susan Marie Proffitt’s home – resulting in one of the force’s largest single seizures of heroin in Ceredigion.
The result has disrupted an active organised crime gang supplying class A drugs to the area.
Sergeant Steven Jones said: “This swift and thorough investigation involved officers and staff from departments across the division, who worked together to secure this result.
“The defendant had a huge amount of heroin at her home, with efforts taken to conceal bags of the drug around the property.
“There is no doubt that in taking Proffitt out of the supply chain we will have disrupted an organised crime gang which she was a trusted part of in supplying heroin into the division.”
Officers carried out a warrant at the 52-year-old’s home in South Road on August 30, 2020.
On searching the property, a box containing 408g of heroin was found concealed in a vent under the staircase, and two further wraps were found in a shower head bracket. Fingerprint marks matching those of Proffitt were found on these items.
Four mobile phones were also seized from the property.
Sgt Jones said: “The quantity of heroin recovered is far in excess of what he would expect to see someone who is simply a user to be in possession of for their own use.
“Given the value of the heroin recovered and the financial circumstances of the defendant, we were confident it was unlikely she would be able to fund a purchase of such a quantity of heroin without being involved in the supply of drugs.
“The only realistic reason for possessing this quantity of heroin was for supply onto others.”
Proffitt was charged with possession with intent to supply, and pleaded guilty. She was sentenced to 57 months in prison when she appeared at Swansea Crown Court on Thursday, November 26.
New permanent walk-in test centre opens in Aberystwyth
PEOPLE in Aberystwyth with symptoms of COVID-19 now have access to a permanent walk-in testing facility.
Hywel Dda University Health Board has arranged for a Local Testing Site (LTS) to be located inside the former Padarn Nursery building, (behind, but not connected to, Padarn Surgery), on Penglais Road.
Local people should avoid using the nearby nursery car park, leaving it free for those people accessing tests to park there. People who attend the walk-in centre must wear a face covering.
Meanwhile, the drive-through facility at Canolfan Rheidol has now been relocated to Cardigan in response to a rise in cases in that area. Residents of Aberystwyth will not be impacted by this move as there is plenty of testing capacity at the LTS.
Alison Shakeshaft, Director of Therapies & Health Science at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “We are very pleased to have secured this LTS for the people of Aberystwyth. Many residents in the town, including students, do not have their own private vehicle in order to access drive-through testing facilities, so the option of a walk-in facility is very important.
“This is a challenging time and I urge everyone to remain vigilant and follow the rules, including wearing face coverings where required, maintain social distancing, washing hands regularly, or using a hand sanitiser if hand washing is not possible.”
Anyone who has symptoms of the virus (a new persistent cough, high temperature or loss/change of taste or smell) must book a test as soon as possible. This can be done through the online UK portal at www.gov.wales/coronavirus.
University students with COVID-19 symptoms, when booking a test, are required to provide their local address in Aberystwyth.
Please do not book a test if you do not have COVID-19 symptoms and do not attend testing centres without booking first as you will not be seen without an appointment.
Please follow the latest self-isolation guidelines which can be found here.
For the latest news and updated from Hywel Dda University Health Board visit https://hduhb.nhs.wales/
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