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Views sought on mental health services

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views soughtREBECCA EVANS AM, Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, has asked the Health Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, to respond to the lack of in-patient mental health services in mid Wales following claims at the recent public meeting in Aberystwyth (January 10) that some young people were being offered beds as far away as Scotland.

Mrs Evans, who chairs the Assembly’s Cross Party Group on Mental Health, used Ministerial question time to highlight the lack of in-patient mental health facilities at Bronglais Hospital. Mrs Evans described reports of people in mental distress being offered beds as far away as Scotland as “clearly unacceptable” and went on to ask Mr Drakeford to explore with Hywel Dda University Health Board how this occurred, and asked “what can be done to ensure this doesn’t happen again?”

In response, Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, said: “I thank the Member for that question”

“I have heard reports of some of the things that were said at the public meeting in Aberystwyth, and specifically on that point. So I have already asked the local crisis resolution team, the local health board itself and the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee for any evidence they have that that sort of thing has happened.

“So far, their reports to me are that none of them have been able to identify a single case of a patient from that area being placed in Scotland. Indeed, they were unable to identify any patient being placed in a facility outside the area other than when that care was specialist care necessary for that patient’s treatment.”

This is not the first time that Mrs Evans has raised mental health provision in mid Wales in the Assembly Chamber, having previously raised the issue with the First Minister. Following a meeting with Aberystwyth Students Union, Mrs Evans spoke in the Senedd about the rising number of crisis mental ill health cases amongst students in Aberystwyth, and the lack of after-care.

Mrs Evans has been scrutinising the Health Board on its mental health provision since its decision to close Afallon Ward in July 2012. The closure came in response to safety and sustainability concerns following a protracted period of recruitment difficulties for qualified clinicians.

Mrs Evans said: “At a recent meeting with the Health Board I requested a briefing on mental health provision.

“I was pleased to learn that a space has been identified in Enlli Ward, in Bronglais, to develop a designated S136 suite for Ceredigion to replace the facility previously provided at Afallon ward. S136 suites are places of safety where the police can hold people in mental distress for up to 72 hours. Holding people in police stations, as sometimes happens now, can be completely inappropriate. I understand that plans are awaiting final approval, and I would urge very speedy action on this.”

Other developments on which the Health Board has briefed Mrs Evans included the extension of the Crisis Resolution Home Treatment to provide a 24 hours per day service, following successful recruitment to the posts in December, and developments in the Therapeutic Day Service.

Mrs Evans said: “I would like to hear about people’s recent experiences of mental health services in mid Wales. I am particularly keen to hear the experiences of people who have been unable to access in-patient mental health care in Bronglais, and would like to know where they were treated instead and what impact that had on their mental health and their recovery.”

All information will be treated confidentially. Readers can contact Mrs Evans at rebecca.evans@wales.gov.uk

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The Little Mill Players present Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood by Ben Crocker

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Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood is this year’s Little Mill Players Pantomime. Performances will be at Theatr Felinfach from Thursday 30 January to Saturday 01 February at 7:30pm. There will also be a matinée performance on Saturday 01 February at 2:30pm.

Robin Hood may be the best archer in the land, but can he escape the clutches of the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham and save the Babes? Come along and join Winnie Widebottom, Marion, Little Joan, Friar Tuck and the Outlaws (and also, surprisingly, the Smugglers Cove WI who have come to Sherwood Forest on a camping holiday and get caught up in the adventure). Boo, hiss and cheer to help make sure the Sheriff gets his just deserts. Expect much fun, laughter and song in this family friendly production.

The Little Mill Players have existed as long as Theatr Felinfach has been in existence, since 1972. Members of the company come from various parts of Ceredigion and even Carmarthenshire. The age range of the cast varies from 7 to 60+ and their jobs vary from manual to managerial as well as school pupils and students. This year they are again thrilled to have several new faces and hope this trend will continue.

The show’s director, Stephen Entwistle, has been a member of the group for over 16 years. He began life with the group as the Musical Director, then progressed onto the stage and is now the ‘boss’!

One of the longest serving members of the current cast is Dilys Megicks, the show’s production assistant, who has been a member for some 24 years. During that time she has portrayed a wide array of characters including a baddy, a chicken and is currently Chair of the Smuggler’s Cove WI! She enjoys all aspects of the traditional pantomime.

Another, now established, member of the cast is Andrew Tyrrell who, over the years, has truly made the role of panto ‘Dame’ his own. He most certainly is the comedian of the cast. Andrew also takes charge of prop building and supplies.

Remember to follow Theatr Felinfach’s Facebook page for opportunities to win tickets to the production. Tickets are available from Theatr Felinfach’s Box Office on 01570 470697 or online at theatrfelinfach.cymru. Ticket prices are £9 for adults, £8 for Senior Citizens and £6 for children.

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NHS volunteers needed

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Volunteering for the NHS can be incredibly rewarding and Hywel Dda UHB are looking for new people to join their Volunteering for Health service in Ceredigion.

There are many reasons why you may consider volunteering with Hywel Dda UHB. It is a great way to experience what it is like in a hospital environment if you are thinking about a career in health. It can also help you to give something back if you’ve been a patient yourself or had a relative in hospital.

There are many different volunteer roles available such as patient befrienders on our wards and welcome volunteers at hospital receptions, and we are particularly looking for people who would be able to help with the shop trolley and help as patient befrienders on our wards at Bronglais Hospital.

Volunteer information sessions will be held in February and anyone who may be interested in becoming a volunteer can find out more by contacting the Volunteering for Health team on 01267 244401 or HDd.VolunteerForHealth@wales.nhs.uk.

David Fretwell, Volunteer Manager at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “One of the greatest benefits volunteers can bring to the NHS is the support and comfort you bring to our patients. We particularly want to establish a shop trolley at Bronglais Hospital but we encourage anyone local to Ceredigion who wants to volunteer for their NHS to get in touch.”

To find out more about Hywel Dda UHB’s Volunteering for Health Service please visit www.hywelddahb.wales.nhs.uk/volunteering

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Elin Jones backs calls for Epilepsy Nurse working in Ceredigion

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ELIN JONES has joined people living with epilepsy and those who support them to discuss issues relating to the healthcare and wellbeing of epilepsy sufferers in the Aberystwyth area, and has reiterated their call for a specific Epilepsy Nurse in the local Health Board.

Epilepsy Aberystwyth District Support Group meets on the second Saturday of each month, in Tesco’s Community Space in Aberystwyth from 11.00am until 1.00pm.

Following the meeting, Elin Jones said:

“It is important that epilepsy sufferers have appropriate local healthcare support.

“Many epilepsy sufferers are prohibited from driving, and therefore face additional barriers to accessing health and social support.

“There is currently no specialist epilepsy nurse in the Hywel Dda Health Board and I will be raising with the need to appoint such a necessary role with the Chief Executive.

“Meetings such as this with local action groups provide me with valuable insight into the variety of challenges faced by people with specific conditions in Ceredigion and it allows me to represent them more effectively with relevant authorities.”

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