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University scheme begins to address GP shortages

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AS Wales sees a critical shortfall in the number of family doctors to serve the increasing patient demand generated by a growing and aging population, three Welsh universities are running a pilot scheme designed to bring young doctors to North and Mid Wales.

The CARER (Community & Rural Education Route) programme, run by Cardiff University in partnership with Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities, will give Cardiff medical students the opportunity to have a year of their education delivered in GP practices in North and Mid Wales, giving them invaluable experience of working closely with clinicians and patients in community settings.

Professor Siladitya Bhattacharya, Head of Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, said: “A number of GP surgeries in Mid and North Wales face closure due to fewer GPs who can replace those who retire or leave.

“While the Government’s Train Work Live campaign has seen an increase in the number of junior doctors choosing to work in Wales, recruitment is still a problem in rural areas. At Cardiff University School of Medicine we want to train an outstanding medical workforce to serve all communities across the whole of Wales.”

The new scheme will build on Cardiff University’s existing practice of ensuring its medical students are offered placements all over the county in a wide variety of settings, and complements Welsh Government’s plans to expand medical education across Wales through a collaboration between Cardiff and Bangor Universities that aims to allow students to study all of their medical degree in North Wales in the near future.

Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething, said: “I am very pleased to see this scheme providing the chance for our next generation of doctors to study in rural Wales, ahead of the roll-out of full-time North Wales medical degrees. These excellent examples of collaboration between our universities will greatly help towards bringing GPs to traditionally hard to recruit areas in North and West Wales.”

Starting in September 2018, CARER will see seven students placed in Aberystwyth and five in Bangor. They will complete all of their third year in these locations before returning to Cardiff to finish their degrees.

Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, said: “We are delighted to welcome the first cohort of Cardiff University medical students to study here at Aberystwyth University, and to make available to them the excellent study, support and recreational facilities we have to offer. From experience, we know that medical students tend to want to continue working near to where they study. By offering this opportunity to study in Mid and West Wales, we very much hope they will also see a professional future here, and in so doing help address the shortage of healthcare professionals working in the region.”

The first programme of its kind in Wales, initially CARER will only be available for existing third year medical students. Similar schemes have already been piloted in other countries and have proven successful.

Professor Nichola Callow of Bangor University said: “This is another excellent step forward on our journey to establish a full medical degree at Bangor, and it also complements our existing healthcare education. This initiative will have great benefits to both students and communities across Wales.”

Some of the positive elements reported from similar programmes around the world include students acquiring an enhanced understanding of patient needs, better-developed communication skills and stronger working relationships with patients, fellow students and healthcare professionals.

Ella Wooding, one of the Cardiff University students taking part in the CARER scheme, said: “I have really enjoyed the GP teaching I have had in the first two years of medical school, and so I thought that CARER sounded like a fantastic opportunity! I also thought it would be a good chance to explore more of Wales and experience something different to Cardiff life.”

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Recognition given to long-standing members of Council committee

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AT AN Ethics and Standards Committee (virtual) meeting held on 17 September 2021,  Rif Winfield and Hywel Wyn Jones were given recognition for their 10 years’ of service to the Committee between 2011 and 2021. A small plaque was presented to both.

Hywel was Chair of the Committee for 3 years.

In their place, two new independent members Alan Davies and Caryl Davies have been appointed.

Eifion Evans, Chief Executive of Ceredigion County Council said, “Ceredigion County Council has benefitted from a decade of advice and considerations provided by Rif & Hywel. We welcome the new members of the committee and their input to the function of the Committee will be greatly appreciated.”

Standards Committees of local authorities exist to do all that is possible to promote and safeguard the standards that the public rightly expect from their elected representatives.

Ceredigion County Council Chairman, Councillor Paul Hinge, said, “Our thanks go to Rif and Hywel who have given their time to contribute to the Committee and we welcome the new members.”

The Committee is made up of five independent members, two county councillors and two town/community councillors. Meeting quarterly, reports for the Ethics and Standards Committee including dispensation applications can be found on the Council website: www.ceredigion.gov.uk.

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Exciting new developments on the horizon for Lampeter Wellbeing Centre

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Architects have been appointed to oversee the project and work will now begin on the proposed layout for the facility

At a Cabinet meeting held on 01 December 2020, it was agreed that Lampeter Leisure Centre would become the location of the Council’s first Wellbeing Centre in the County.

A significant amount of work and investment is to be made at the Leisure Centre which will improve the facility and the resources for years to come.

Over the coming months, as we see the plans and proposals for Wellbeing Centre develop, they will be shared with service users and the residents of Ceredigion.

Architects have been appointed to oversee the project and work will now begin on the proposed layout for the facility. The layout will be a reconfiguration of the existing facility in order to provide a Wellbeing Centre that can provide an enhanced range of Through Age Services, including Leisure Services to the residents of Lampeter and the mid of the county. 

Councillor Catherine Hughes, Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member, said: “We are looking forward to the development of the new Wellbeing Centre at Lampeter. This will provide a range of services to residents within their local community.

This development comes at a welcome time, as Ceredigion Public Service Board is carrying out an Assessment of Local Wellbeing, in order to find out about the wellbeing of local people and communities, now and in the future.”

Lampeter Leisure Centre will be closed during the building works, but during this period alternative provision will be made available for all service users and clubs.

We look forward to being able to share these alternative plans with you over the coming weeks, as soon as these arrangements have been finalised.

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UK Government must improve HGV drivers’ working conditions – Ben Lake MP

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Many people in the HGV industry have expressed concern

FOLLOWING his contribution during PMQs on September 8 regarding the HGV driver crisis, Ben Lake MP has raised the issue again, with Minister Grant Shapps.

Ben Lake MP has said:

“Many constituents who work in the HGV industry have come forward to share their experiences with me about the HGV driver crisis. As well as expressing grave concern, they have also shared ideas and long-term solutions that would greatly improve the current situation. 

“It’s important that the UK Government listens and gives full consideration to these suggestions and I look forward to meeting with the Minister in the near future to discuss them further.”

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