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Health Board appeals for public support to alleviate pressure on hospitals

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HYWEL DDA UNIVERSITY Health Board is appealing for public support as its hospitals are operating under extreme pressure.  Whilst high levels of activity are usual in the winter, this year presents the extra challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a shortage of clinical staff.

The health board has responded to outbreaks of the virus in all of its acute general hospitals, resulting in closures of some wards in all acute hospitals in the Hywel Dda area during the past month.

Meanwhile, the health board has announced the transfer of all patients being treated at Llandovery Community Hospital, to Amman Valley Hospital, in Glanamman, near Ammanford, due to a number of staff, including nurses, at the two hospitals self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19. This led to significant constraints on the workforce at both sites, which meant sustaining both community nursing and community hospital services became too challenging.

Community transmission of the virus is also very high across all three counties. In the last seven days, the case incidence rate in Carmarthenshire was 305.7 per 100,000 population, with a rate of 165.1 per 100,000 in Ceredigion and 170.1 per 100,000 in Pembrokeshire.

Because of these challenges, the health board is in a very difficult position as it cannot safely staff all of beds it would otherwise expect to have open at this point in the year. Additionally, it has had to transfer some staff and patients to field hospitals in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

The health board is therefore in need the public’s help to ease pressure on the system.

 Andrew Carruthers, Director of Operations at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “A number of vaccines are being developed and yesterday’s news about the approval of one of these is a hugely welcome and positive development. But, it is critical for the public to understand that we are still at a very dangerous point in the cycle of the pandemic and there is still some way to go before we can return to normality.

“We are dealing with significantly more cases of COVID-19 in our hospitals than we previously had in the spring. Unfortunately, this has also affected our workforce and severely hampered our capacity and escalation plans.

“While we are confident that the number of declared hospital outbreaks is now going down, and that we are able to deep clean and re-open wards safely again, the single biggest issue we face remains staff sickness. This is having a critical effect on our ability to provide care for all but those with emergency / urgent medical conditions, or those who are accessing cancer services. We need to ensure that the services we provide are safe and prioritised in terms of clinical need, so that staff are operating safely.

“I want to be very clear that we will get through this, but we need the public’s help now to stop onward transmission of the virus in our communities and give our workforce a chance to recover, so that they are able to provide safe and effective care for our patients.”

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Health

Helping to deliver clinical services to the people of Ceredigion

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HYWEL Dda University Health Board (UHB) has published its Research and Innovation Strategy, which will help deliver clinical services to the people of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

The strategy, which is part of Hywel Dda UHB’s long-term health and care strategy, A healthier Mid and West Wales: Our Future Generations Living Well, seeks to improve the profile, quality and quantity of research and innovation activity within Hywel Dda UHB.

Additionally, while the COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating impact on communities across mid and west Wales, it demonstrated the vital link between research, innovation, and decision making at every level of the health care system. This includes the immediate importance of translating research and innovation into health benefits.

The Research and Innovation Strategy will focus on setting the direction and committing to the delivery of practical steps to move the health board’s research, development, and innovation agenda forward. This will be achieved through four strategic goals:

  • Improve the quality and impact of activities.
  • Invest in staff and facilities to encourage the development of a virtuous funding cycle.
  • Grow research and innovation activity in areas of strength and opportunity.
  • Develop strong and effective partnerships with academic, healthcare, industry and research organisations.

Leighton Phillips, Director for Research, Innovation and University Partnerships for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “Our vision is to produce and collaborate in high quality health and care research and innovation, to improve services and health outcomes for our public, patients and staff. This strategy details how we aim to improve our research and innovation capabilities, which will have a direct benefit on the communities we serve in the three counties.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how critical research and innovation is to deal with the worst public health crisis of our time. Excellent research and innovation contribute to improved health outcomes, because it embeds a culture of the highest standards of health and care delivery, underpinned by evidence and by attracting high quality employees.

“Implementing this strategy will be done in collaboration with a wide variety of partners, from our existing funders, local authorities and Welsh Government, to private sector organisations and industry, and the health board’s clinical and managerial teams.”

If you wish to review the strategy or discuss it further with the research and innovation team, please email HDd.Research-Development@wales.nhs.uk.

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Health

Council provides feminine hygiene products to local communities

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CEREDIGION COUNTY COUNCIL in partnership with local community groups and organisations, and through funding from Welsh Government’s Period Dignity Scheme, are ensuring that women and girls have access to feminine hygiene products.

A number of local groups and organisations will receive a stock of feminine hygiene products which are available to be distributed to individuals facing hardship within our communities.

Ceredigion County Council’s aim is to ensure that tampons, sanitary towels, or sustainable alternatives are available for women and girls from low income households in Ceredigion who cannot afford them.

Local community support groups and organisations have a wealth of knowledge of their local areas, and will be able to support those in need through ensuring they receive these products at this particularly challenging time.

To find out which groups or organisations hold a stock in your local area, please contact porthygymuned@ceredigion.gov.uk. 

To learn more about other grants and assistance available to those facing hardship, go to the benefits section on the Council’s website: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/coronavirus-covid-19/benefits/.

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Health

Bronglais Hospital has welcomed a new Consultant Colorectal Surgeon

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Mr Simone Sebastiani

A NEW consultant colorectal surgeon has been welcomed into a new post at Bronglais Hospital, Aberystwyth, meaning that patients will no longer have to travel long distances to receive operations.

After seeing a job advert for his posting early on in 2020, Mr Sebastiani came to visit the hospital and later joined Hywel Dda University Health Board in January 2021 as part of the clinical team at the Ceredigion hospital.

Mr Sebastiani said: “I was really impressed with the quality of all of the professionals working in Bronglais Hospital. Also, after hearing that the patients had to travel for over an hour in order to have their cancer operations, I felt that I could help them to receive colorectal service locally.”

Maria Battle, Chair at Hywel Dda Health Board said: “It is our pleasure to welcome Mr Sebastiani to the Team at Bronglais. We are delighted he has joined us. This is a big step forward for services in Mid Wales. We are fortunate to have such a strong team and Mr Sebastiani will contribute to providing a more comprehensive and united service.”

Originally from Rome, Italy, Mr Sebastiani studied medicine at the University of La Sapienza in the city where he graduated with full marks in 2008. He then started his surgical training in Rome, rotating between a university and rural hospital.

Through the Italian training programme, which allowed a trainee to spend 18 months abroad, Mr Sebastiani spent six months in Belgium working in one of the biggest centres in Europe for laparoscopic liver resection and liver transplant. In moving to the UK for his final year in training and qualifying in 2015, he became a middle grade in colorectal surgery in Luton and more recently in 2019 he moved to Plymouth for a fellowship in laparoscopic colorectal surgery where he worked as a locum consultant.

“I liked the idea of helping to reinstate the service and I believe there is incredible potential for development here at Bronglais, and I wanted to be part of it.”

Mr Sebastiani moved to Ceredigion county in December 2020 with his wife, also from Rome, who is a nurse also working at Bronglais Hospital.

“We like it here. It is small and quiet, but in a nice way. There is the sea and the mountains, so plenty of things to do and places to go.”

Philip Kloer, Medical Director and Deputy CEO at Hywel Dda Health Board said: “We are delighted to welcome Mr Sebastiani here at Bronglais. We have first class facilities at Bronglais Hospital which are improving all the time and Mr Sebastiani’s knowledge and experience will help us to continue strengthening our acute surgical service for our patients at the hospital.”

For regular updates and roles which may interest you or someone you know, follow the University Health Board: on Facebook and Twitter @HywelDdaJobs and on LinkedIn at: www.linkedin.com/company/hywel-dda-university-health-board, or by visiting: https://hduhb.nhs.wales/jobs/working-for-us/

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