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Ambulance service: 3 months to improve

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ambulance“VERY DISAPPOINTING”. That was the Welsh Government’s uncharacteristically understated response to the news that the Wales Ambulance Service’s performance had declined yet again. 

The figures show that 50.8% of ambulances in Pembrokeshire arrived at the scene of an immediate life-threatening Category A call within 8 minutes. The target is 65%. Neighbouring counties of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire achieved better figures of 53.3% and 51.9% respectively, and the average for the whole of Wales was 54.1%. While Health Minister Mark Drakeford said that he expected month on month improvement. He failed to set out what steps – if any – he will take if the Ambulance Service continues to fail. Commenting on the figures, Paul Davies AM said “It beggars belief that the Local Health Board and the Welsh Labour Government continue to steam roller through with their unpopular and illconceived changes to our hospital services. It’s clear that at present the ambulance service is under great pressure, and these proposed changes to our health services will mean that patients will have to travel further for treatment, and put even more pressure on our hard working ambulance personnel.” He added “I would like to pay tribute to the dedication of our local paramedics who are being put in an impossible situation. Travelling further to get medical help will only make matters worse and once again I would urge the Local Health Board and Welsh Labour Government to stop their reckless assault on services at Withybush Hospital.” Plaid Cymru health spokeswoman Elin Jones said: “It is clear that the government has failed to deliver the improvements that are needed.” The Local Health Board has repeatedly told Pembrokeshire residents that the Ambulance Service will be able to fulfil the needs of patients in the County as its plans to slash services at Withybush proceed. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the Board has claimed that: “Concerns which were raised predominantly related to transport mainly the safety of women in labour and neonates in transit between units in an emergency situation. Discussions continue to take place with Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust (WAST) and other bodies with a view to establishing mechanisms to resolve these concerns.” The Ambulance Service’s appalling performance figures and the fact that “discussions” are continuing with only a few weeks to go before the Board cuts services at Withybush is one indication that those concerns will not be resolved before the end of July.

PARAMEDIC Colin Picton has written to health minister Mark Drakeford. We have reprinted the letter in full here. 

MR DRAKEFORD, 

I’m writing to you, not that you’re going to take much notice to this email, as you and your band of merry men have come to your conclusions already, about removing vital resources and services from our fantastic hospital, at Withybush in Haverfordwest. I would like you to answer for me, how have you come to this decision, and on what evidence your decision has been made? Do you think it’s acceptable that lives will be lost? Do you think it’s acceptable for vulnerable people to travel such a distance to receive the care they deserve? I have three healthy children and one of them was born prematurely and we used the SCUBU at Withybush, and must say the staff there were amazing, hard-working and dedicated, and I couldn’t have imagined travelling long distances to receive this care elsewhere. As a Paramedic, let me draw some interesting facts to your attention that all my other colleagues want to say, so I will speak on their behalf: • Pembrokeshire at present has 5 ambulances available 24/7 unless Welsh Ambulance are saving money (which does happen) and due to sickness some stations go without cover reducing this to 4, sometimes 3 available vehicles. • Geographically we have one of the most rural areas in Wales. Our 8 minute response times are hardly met now as it is and we are desperate for MORE resources. • Milford Haven alone is the second most populated town in west wales next to Llanelli, and this is only getting bigger, due to additional housing being built to cope with the growing population. • We have on our doorstep one of the busiest ports in the UK and Two refinery’s two LNG plants and a power station. What would happen if there was a major incident? Where would the cover arrive from? How long will it take for them to receive the specialist care they need? How many people will die in the meantime? I have been sat outside A&E for hours at a time waiting to off load, along with sometimes 7 other vehicles, now if these vehicles were out of county that is leaving no cover what so ever in Pembrokeshire, so it’s not all about the facilities that are being downgraded its the impact on the Ambulance Service being able to meet demand, after travelling such distances. In my time as Paramedic I can count at least 20 patients that if they had not received specialist care within 10-15 minutes they would have died, now there are 70-80 staff in Pembrokeshire making that figure roughly 1600. We are playing with statistics now, something like your Cabinet is doing. But that’s potentially 1600 lives that would have been lost: now are you happy for this to happen knowing that investing in our already fantastic hospital and making it a centre of excellence would be far more beneficial than making these ridiculous decisions based on no facts, no risk assessments and no thought what so ever?! I ask you: would you be happy for one of your family to wait in excess of 1 hour for an Emergency Ambulance? Would you be happy for them to travel 50 minutes in the back when they could have been 10 minutes away from the care they needed, but it had been removed due to the penny pinching government that are in power right now? In the long run, there will be so many lives lost due to all these changes the amount of money in corporate manslaughter cases will bring the Welsh Assembly to its knees. This, I don’t care about; but lives, I do. My family my friends the people of Pembrokeshire deserve better, we deserved to be listened to. We have a right to the best possible care and you’re taking this away from us all. I look forward to your response, and would hope you could give me the reasoning for these decisions, and some helpful facts on how the Ambulance Service will meet this demand, and bearing in mind we know the current situation so we will not be palmed off with your made up statistics Mr Drakeford, let’s hear the real truth for once, we deserve to know.

Kind regards Mr Colin Picton

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No action at Cardiff Airport over virus

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THERE were no checks or screening at Cardiff airport this morning (Jan 23) as international concern continues to grow about the coronavirus which has killed 17 people and infected hundreds in a central Chinese city.

A Herald journalist landing at 5:30am on a flight from Doha, said that passengers arriving from China or other Southeast Asian were not questioned or screened, despite other airports including Heathrow taking action.

The twice daily Doha flight, which was launched with the help of the Welsh Government two years ago, connects travellers from many destinations from South East Asia, including from China. A connection between Beijing and Cardiff is offered with a 10 hour stop over at Hamad International Airport in Qatar.

The outbreak of the virus is centred on the city of Wuhan. Travellers from Wuhan change at Beijing. At this time of year there is an increased number of travellers between China and the UK due to the Chinese New Year celebrations’

The Guardian reported today (Jan 23) that a sense of panic has spread in the central Chinese city of Wuhan as the city of 11 million was put on lockdown in an attempt to quarantine a deadly virus believed to have originated there.

Today, Chinese authorities banned all transport links from the sprawling city, suspending buses, the subway system, ferries and shutting the airport and train stations to outgoing passengers.

Nearby Huanggang also suspended its public bus and railway system by the end of the day.

In Wuhan, it has been reported that supermarket shelves were empty and local markets sold out of produce as residents hoarded supplies and isolated themselves at home. Petrol stations were overwhelmed as drivers stocked up on fuel, exacerbated by rumours that reserves had run out. Local residents said pharmacies had sold out of face masks.

The incubation period for the virus is said to be five days according to experts.

The Welsh Government has been asked for a comment.

Spencer Birns, Chief Commercial Officer at Cardiff Airport, told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “Cardiff Airport is closely following guidance provided by the relevant authorities in relation to screening procedures for Coronavirus. Port Health advice as of 1200 on 23rd January 2020 is to operate business as usual, with no additional screening. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will update our customers as required.

“The safety and security of our team and customers is our number one priority.”

A spokesperson told The Herald that Chinese nationals arriving in Cardiff on international flights are not being asked if they originated in Wuhan despite the crisis.

“We have not been told to do different to normal,” the spokesperson said.

Pictured above: Regular flights: Qatar Airways plane at Cardiff Airport this morning • Peter Sinclair from Milford Haven lives in China and taking precautions

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Elin Jones congratulates Ceredigion Talking Paper in National Assembly

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AM marks 50 years of service by local news service for the blind

Elin Jones AM has congratulated the Ceredigion Talking Newspaper in a statement in the National Assembly for Wales, marking 50 years of service to blind people in Ceredigion and beyond.

In her statement on Wednesday the 20th of January, Elin Jones said:

“Fifty years ago, in January 1970, an innovative charity was established in Ceredigion for blind people, offering the first service of its kind in Wales and the United Kingdom – a service that would enable the blind people of Ceredigion to hear the latest local news in the press.

“That innovative scheme was the Ceredigion Talking Newspaper.

“The talking newspaper was set up by Ronald Sturt, a lecturer at the College of Librarianship in Llanbadarn. Initially, the recordings of local voices reading articles from the local press were on tape cassettes and provided to 18 people.

“Nowadays, the recordings are on a USB, and there are over a hundred regular listeners of the talking newspaper and more than 60 volunteers contributing regularly. The recordings are published weekly and the coverage includes the Cambrian News, Golwg and Y Cymro.

“One reader, Eileen Sinnett, has volunteered continuously for fifty years. What a contribution she has made!

“I would like to congratulate the Ceredigion Talking Newspaper for breaking new ground in 1970, for 50 years of service and for bringing the news, in both Welsh and English, to those who cannot see or read it in Ceredigion and beyond.”

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Community

Young People raise money for local charities

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On 10 December 2019, young people from Ysgol Henry Richard’s Cooking Club hosted a Christmas Fayre stall, selling cakes and donated bakes from the local community to raise money for young people receiving care at Angharad Ward, Bronglais Hospital and West Wales Domestic Abuse Service. The club was led by Ceredigion Youth Service and raised over £400 for the charities.

The young people learnt how to make and produce different products, sell and raise money for charity. This gave the young people the opportunity to feel a sense of achievement by giving to others.

Ruby Cook from Ysgol Henry Richard’s Cooking Club said, “Our Cooking Club is made up of young people from Ysgol Henry Richard who attend the after school cooking club. The club focuses on cooking and leaning new life skills. It also gives young people an opportunity to socialise with their friends. We had a great time working on this project, where we baked cakes and had fun in the Christmas Fayre selling them. We would like to thank the local businesses which also donated to our stall. With your support we were able to raise more funds and give more young people gifts this Christmas.”

Mrs Ffion Davies, Ysgol Henry Richard said, “It was a lovely evening seeing the Cooking Club members have fun while making and selling cakes for worthy causes. The enthusiasm the young people showed when giving up their own time to help others at what can be a vulnerable time of year for some was inspiring. Thank you and well done to Ceredigion Youth Service and the Cooking Club members.”

Councillor Catrin Miles is the Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services. She said, “I want to congratulate the Cooking Club for their hard work and great achievement. I’m delighted that they not only raised a good sum for charity, but had fun and learnt at the same time. I’m grateful to the Ceredigion Youth Service for their continued good work and support of young people in the county.”

Ceredigion Youth Service is the designated Service for young people aged 11-25 in Ceredigion, dedicated to supporting young people’s personal, social and educational development through specialised support and open access provision. Provision includes School Based Youth Work, Outreach Youth Work and Youth Clubs. For more information or to find out what opportunities are available to you, head over to their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages at @GICeredigionYS.

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