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£7.5m renal unit used as meeting room.

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renalTHE PEMBROKESHIRE HERALD can reveal this week that serious concerns have been raised at flagship projects at Withybush Hospital. 

The newly built Renal unit, funded by a £7.5m grant and scheduled to open earlier this year, is currently being used as a conference centre. A spokesperson for the Local Health Board, which built the unit under a commission from The Welsh Renal Network, told the Herald: “The new renal unit is a major investment at Withybush Hospital and contains all the latest technology expected in a modern renal dialysis unit. We are actively working with the Welsh Renal Network to ensure a provider is appointed and renal patients can benefit from these facilities as soon as possible.” The Board announced in April that negotiations with The Welsh Renal Network, responsible for appointing renal service providers, were in final stages with the contract award expected by the end of May 2014. The Pembrokeshire Herald has been assured by a member of the Renal unit’s project board that the unit will open, but a date has not been given. There is also considerable disquiet that the Board intends to salami-slice cancer services away from Withybush to Carmarthen, an impression given some impetus by the Board’s failure to appoint a replacement for Dr Anne Barnes MBE. The Pembrokeshire Herald can report that the Health Board failed to advertise for a replacement for Doctor Barnes until very recently, despite knowing of her intention to leave in January. We also understand that other clinical staff have declined to “fill the gap” left by her departure, leaving the future of cancer care at Withybush under question. Peter Milewski, retired consultant surgeon, told the Herald: “Health Board middle management are only just beginning to get a sense of urgency about the situation despite the long notice they’ve had. So it sounds as though a process of muddling through is just beginning to gather momentum, hopefully maintaining the service as it is. “It’s absolutely typical of the wretched health board to drag their feet while services and waiting times get worse and worse. Apparently there is someone interesting in starting in September, but what will happen between now and then is anyone’s guess.” Lyn Neville, who works for Pembrokeshire Cancer Support, said: “They have done this before when the last consultant left and it’s left them in a hole. They’ve just handed the job to Anne and told her to get on with it. “I had a letter to say that Hywel Dda is experiencing extreme recruitment difficulties. They don’t make the vacancies particularly attractive and threats to services aren’t helping attract people to the county either. They’ve set up an Oncology review group which won’t report until the end of the year, even though Anne is leaving in July. Who is going to cover Oncology when she goes? “There are just two consultants for nearly 250,000 people; they’re in a really big hole. People are genuinely fearful about what is going to happen when Anne leaves and the Health Board has done nothing to ease those fears”. Considerable anger has been caused by the discovery that funds donated for specific health care projects in Pembrokeshire have been diverted to a consolidated central fund. It seems that the generosity of Pembrokeshire charities is being used to fund developments in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire in what is arguably a considerable breach of trust and confidence between the Board and local health care charities. It has been suggested by staff at Withybush that the new dialysis unit could be shared with the longpromised Cancer Day unit, which shows no sign of being planned other on a very vague basis and without firm commitment from the Board to its provision. The Herald understands that one charity is investigating its legal options in respect of money it has handed over to the Board towards the cost of providing a Cancer Day unit at Withybush Hospital. A spokesperson for the Health Board told us: “The university health board is totally committed to providing chemotherapy for patients in Pembrokeshire. We are currently undertaking a review of Oncology Services which about strengthening and modernising local services providing high quality, safe, effective treatment and care as close to patient’s home as possible. The CHC is participating in this review. “This process is not about reducing the service we offer but is about creating a more sustainable, high quality service. This may mean the way we deliver cancer services may change.” Paul Davies, AM for Preseli Pembrokeshire, said: “I have grown increasingly frustrated and angry with the delay in the opening of the new Renal unit at Withybush Hospital. To have a new building that appears to have been completed some time ago unused is a huge waste. “A number of constituents have contacted me to voice their concerns regarding this as understandably patients are very keen to use this new facility. “Pembrokeshire patients have in some cases had to continue to travel to Carmarthen for treatment, sometimes literally passing the new building that is lying idle. “I have raised this delay in the Senedd with the Minister for Health and Social Services, Mark Drakeford AM. “I have also contacted the Welsh Renal Clinical Network who are managing this scheme. Whilst I understand that the contract to build the unit is complex and includes work at Glangwili and Bronglais Hospitals, I question whether more could and should have been done to allow the new unit at Withybush Hospital to open far sooner.”

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Police advise ‘hang up on suspicious callers’

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A NATIONAL telephone scam, aiming to steal money, has reached residents living within the Dyfed-Powys area.

Paul Callard, of Dyfed-Powys Police’s Financial Crime Team, said: “Action Fraud has today  made us aware three people living in Dyfed-Powys have been contacted by fraudsters claiming to be from BT, in the past four days. While three people have reported, we suspect many more have been targeted.

“Victims receive a telephone call from someone pretending to be from BT who is calling due to a problem with the victim’s internet connection speed. During the call the victim is asked to open their online banking, eBay, Tesco and other accounts. The scammer then tries to gain remote access to the victim’s computer to empty the victim’s bank account.

“BT will never ask for remote access to your computer or access to your online bank account. We urge anyone who receives unsolicited/cold calls from any company hang up immediately. Do not enter into conversation with them, provide them with any personal details or send them any money. You should only phone the company back using a trusted phone number.”

If you have been the victim of fraud, attempted fraud, or cyber crime, or have received a potential scam message or computer virus but no money has been lost or you haven’t responded to it, report it to Action Fraud either online or by calling 0300 123 2040.

For further advice and information on how to avoid being scammed visit www.actionfraud.police.uk.

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Four arrested as man remains in ‘critical condition’

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FOUR men have been arrested after a man was hospitalised in the early hours of Sunday morning (Jan 14).

19-year-old Ifan Richards Owen is in hospital in critical condition after the attack.

The incident took place in High Street, Aberystwyth, at approximately 2:20am.

Four men, aged 19, 20, 23 and 25 have been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm with intent.

They are in police custody.

Police are now appealing for witnesses to contact them as a matter of urgency.

DCI Anthony Evans, of Dyfed-Powys Police, said: “We are issuing a fresh appeal for witnesses to the assault on Ifan Richards Owens, aged 19, which occurred on High Street, Aberystwyth at around 2.20am on Sunday, January 14.

“In particular we would like to speak to anyone who gave first aid to Mr Owens before emergency services arrived.

“Mr Owens remains in hospital in a critical condition.

“We would urge anyone with any information that could assist in our investigation any witnesses to the incident or anyone who may have any CCTV or video footage of the incident to contact police on 101, quoting incident number 402 of January 14. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

“Four men, aged 25, 23, 20 and 19, have been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm with intent and remain in police custody at this time.”

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£750,000 funding for highway improvements

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CEREDIGION COUNTY COUNCIL has recently been awarded almost £750,000 of additional grant funding from the Welsh Government’s Local Transport Fund and Road Safety Capital Grant to carry out further highways improvement schemes in the County.

£596,000 has been allocated from the Local Transport Fund for various schemes across the county which will include removing the pinch point on the C1010 at Gogerddan, near Penrhyncoch. £249,000 of funding is allocated for active travel improvements in Aberystwyth to create an improved shared use path along Boulevard St Brieuc which will continue along the side of the Police Station and up Park Avenue towards Glyndwr Road. A pedestrian crossing on Boulevard St Brieuc will be upgraded to a new toucan crossing, which cyclists can also use alongside pedestrians. This will be the first of its kind in Ceredigion.

The funding will also purchase a new scooter shelter at Plascrug Primary School. Head Teacher Menna Sweeney said: “This is great news because the shelter purchased just 16 months ago following grant funded works on the Avenue cannot cope with current demand due to the amount of children scooting and cycling to the school every day. This is really helping to alleviate the traffic congestion problems previously experienced in the area”.

Two new public cycle repair stands with integrated cycle pumps will be installed in Aberystwyth. One will be placed outside Plascrug Leisure Centre and the other on Aberystwyth University Penglais Campus.

Councillor Alun Williams, Cabinet Member for Transport said: “I’m delighted that we’ve managed to obtain funding to further improve facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. The work will complement the new Parc Kronberg Skate Park and improve the look of this important gateway into Aberystwyth by increasing the number of trees and spreading them wider along Park Avenue as well as renewing the currently uneven section of pavement on the street.”

Additional funding has been allocated to the Cardigan Active Travel Area Year 2 Scheme,  which earlier this year saw a new 20mph zone with traffic calming outside Cardigan Secondary School and a new footway link and pedestrian refuge crossing on Aberystwyth Road. The extra funding will fund footway widening on Pontycleifion Road and the provision of new dropped kerbs to assist mobility and pushchair users to improve the link between the Town Centre and Parc Teifi Industrial Estate.

Deputy Leader of the Council Cllr Ray Quant MBE and Cabinet Member for Technical Services said: “I’m delighted that Ceredigion residents will benefit from a further three quarters of a million pounds funding from the Welsh Government for transport schemes throughout the County and I look forward to seeing the improvements which should be completed by the end of March 2018.”

A Road Safety Capital Grant of £149,963 will fund the replacement of 15 Vehicle Activated Signs. These signs alert drivers exceeding the speed limit to slow down at locations with a history of personal injury collisions.

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