A TEAM based at Morriston Hospital has tapped into technology to allow patients to ‘attend’ clinics without leaving home.
Getting to hospital for appointments is not always easy for anyone living in rural areas – and even more so for those with multiple sclerosis.
Now the regional MS team has won a prestigious award for making access much easier through the use of smart phones and tablets.
The team may be based in Morriston but it covers the ABMU and Hywel Dda areas, looking after people living as far north as Ceredigion.
Video conferencing facilities have been used for many years to allow Morriston staff to hold clinics in Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth.
This was increased in 2012 with the support of the MS Society, reducing traveling time and costs for the clinicians – but with no additional benefit to patients as they still had to get to Bronglais.
Last year, with the support of a pharmaceutical company, the team piloted the use of iPads for patients to have a consultation from either their home or their place of work.
Lead MS specialist nurse Helen Owen said: “When people with MS first start on disease modifying therapy they need to be seen regularly for blood monitoring. We also need to be sure their injection sites are okay and that they are tolerating their treatment well. They are seen one month after they start, then eight weeks after that and then three months so it’s a big commitment to make. We run clinics in Bronglais Hospital and have outreach clinics in other locations but that still means the patient has to travel. If they live in rural areas the condition of the roads could make attendance difficult, then there is their disability to consider.”
The pharmaceutical company’s support meant the team was able to buy iPads, which can be used to link with the patient’s tablet or phone.
Helen said: “Patients go to their local hospital or GP to have their bloods taken. We can then use the iPads to have a chat with them. If they are having problems with their injection sites, for example, they can show us. It’s much easier for them. One patient who is in work was able to have her review using the iPad from her office so she didn’t even have to take any time off.”
The service is available to patients in both ABMU and Hywel Dda health board areas. Surveys have confirmed they were all either satisfied or very satisfied with their experience.
Nicola Jones, from Llanelli, said: “It was great to not have the hassle of driving to clinic and find parking. Also, I had my consultation while I was at work so there was very little down time.”
The MS team has now won the best poster award at the national MS Trust Conference for its work developing the iPad clinics.
Dr Owen Pearson, consultant neurologist and clinical lead, said: “This is an important advance in developing both a patient centred and responsive service, as well as improving efficacy. The recent MS society report My MS, My Needs raised the difficulties people with MS living in rural areas face in accessing specialist services. The introduction of modern technology into clinical practice has improved this access.”
RNLI in Wales urges people to stay safe as Storm Brendan hits
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is urging people to stay safe near the Welsh coast as severe weather could make our seas and coastlines particularly dangerous.
Lifesaving charity, the RNLI, is encouraging people to exercise extreme caution if visiting the shoreline, especially along exposed cliffs, seafronts and piers.
The expected strong winds and severe gales pose a severe safety risk to those visiting the coast.
Named Storm Brendan by Met Eireann, it swept eastwards across Ireland before making its way through the rest of the UK this morning with yellow wind warning in place for most of the Welsh coast.
Chris Cousens, RNLI Regional Water Safety Lead for Wales said:
‘This rough weather could make visiting parts of the Welsh coastline treacherous and bring very dangerous sea conditions.
‘Sadly, around 150 people lose their lives on British and Irish coasts each year and over half of these people didn’t plan on ever entering the water. Slips, trips and falls can be a major factor in these kinds of incidents.’
If you see someone else in danger in the water, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. If you have something that floats that they can hold on to, throw it to them. Don’t go in the water yourself – too many people drown trying to save others.
The charity, which provides a search and rescue service around the UK and Ireland, is facing its own Perfect Storm as demand for its services has increased but it is facing a shortfall in funds. This past year, the RNLI has been busier than ever, and stormy conditions can mean additional call outs for the already extremely busy volunteer crews. Whatever the weather, RNLI volunteers will still be on call to rescue those at difficulty at sea.
The RNLI’s major new fundraising appeal, The Perfect Storm, which aims to help the charity get back to living within its means, is running throughout November and December. To find out more or to donate visit RNLI.org/ThePerfect Storm.
Are you missing out on a Council Tax reduction?
IF YOU’RE struggling to pay your Council Tax bill, then help could be available for you through the Welsh Government’s flagship Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS).
The scheme, which will continue to support vulnerable households in 2020-21, currently benefits one in five of all households in Wales. In the last year almost 280,000 low-income households have received help from the scheme, with 220,000 paying no council tax at all. Many more receive other discounts or exemptions.
You may be entitled to pay less council tax if:
• you believe you live on a low income
• you live alone, or with people/children who do not pay council tax
• you are a student
• you are disabled
• you are severely mentally impaired
Understanding why there are still vulnerable households not benefitting from the help they are entitled to is a priority for the Welsh Government. Last year we commissioned research to understand the circumstances of households in Wales and the effects of the UK Government’s Universal Credit on the CTRS.
The interim report out today shows that for many households, the move to Universal Credit can have a significant impact on council tax reduction awards. Whilst many households currently receiving a 100% reduction will continue to do so, for others, the move to Universal Credit is shown to have an adverse impact, particularly for employed households, self-employed households, and working households in receipt of a Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.
Full findings of the interim report are available on the Welsh Government website. These findings will now be considered in more detail to inform the next stages of the research and policy development in this area.
Encouraging people to make sure they are not missing out on help they could be entitled to, Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said:
“Ensuring every household in Wales receives the council tax support they are entitled to is an important part of our commitment to making council tax fairer.
“Our scheme is already helping hundreds of thousands of households across Wales, but we know that there are still many missing out on the discounts, reductions and exemptions they are entitled to. I encourage everyone to check the Welsh Government website to find out if they could be paying less.”
Success for Dyfed-Powys Police in targeting drugs suppliers in Ceredigion
A drugs supplier in the Ceredigion area has been sentenced to 2 years and 2 months in prison.
Kylie Mason, 34, from Aberaeron, was arrested on the 28th October 2019, and later charged with 2 offences of possession with intent to supply a controlled drug and two offences of supply a controlled drug of Class A. She pleaded guilty at court and received a total sentence of two years and two months in prison on the 8th January.
Detective Sergeant Steven Jones said: “This is an excellent result for the Aberaeron community, who had raised concerns about this individual supplying drugs in the area. I hope this will serve as a warning to others who wish to bring drugs into the Ceredigion area that it will not be tolerated. This result will go a long way towards keeping our communities safe. If anyone is worried about drugs in their community I would urge them to contact police as we will take the appropriate action.”
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