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Health Board urges eligible groups to get flu vaccinaton

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THE ANNUAL Hywel Dda programme to encourage people in eligible groups across mid and west Wales to have a vaccination to protect themselves from influenza (flu), a virus that can cause serious illness, has been launched.

This year Hywel Dda has developed a localised campaign aimed at bringing together every resident in mid and west Wales to tackle this problem as one collective community.

The superhero based theme is a call to action urging residents to become a ‘superprotector’ by getting vaccinated which will ultimately help protect themselves, patients, their families, colleagues and neighbours from catching flu.

The theme will be introduced across Hywel Dda sites using visuals and messaging that have been developed to be eye-catching, memorable and mean something to those that that view the messages with a hope that they are encouraged to make the effort to receive their flu vaccination.

A spokesperson said: “We have particular challenges around flu vaccination uptake in the Hywel Dda region so whilst the campaign calls on everyone to get vaccinated it also focuses specifically groups that are eligible for a free vaccination which include NHS staff, pregnant women, people with certain chronic long-term health conditions, and everyone aged 65 and over. We are also encouraging everyone, whether eligible for a free NHS vaccine or not, to have the vaccination to help prevent the spread of flu.”

Children aged two to ten-years-old are also eligible as the vaccine programme for children is again being extended this year. The vaccine for adults is a small injection, but for children it is a simple nasal spray. Children aged between two and three years can receive the nasal vaccine at their GP surgery while those in reception class and every primary school can get it at school.

Ros Jervis, Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda University Health Board, who launched the today, reiterated it is vital that those most at risk take advantage of the free vaccine: “Influenza can be a life-threatening illness for people who are at risk due to their age, an underlying health problem, or because they are pregnant. Sadly, influenza kills people in Wales every year.

“Influenza spreads very easily. Extending the programme to more children this year will help protect them from catching flu, and will also prevent them spreading it to others in the community who may be very vulnerable. I particularly call on the parents of 2-3 year old children to get their children vaccinated with the simple nasal spray this year as the statistics show as few as six 2-3 year old children vaccinated prevents one case of flu – this age group has the best opportunity over all others to help stop the spread of flu – they are our ultimate “superprotectors”.

“People can be seriously ill with influenza, and a flu vaccination is the best way to protect against it, so I call on each and every person in the Hywel Dda region including all our own staff to join us in helping prevent the spread of this virus by getting vaccinated and help make our local community a safer place to live this winter.”

While most NHS flu vaccines are given in GP surgeries, free vaccination is also available for some eligible adults in many community pharmacies across Wales.

Carers, volunteers providing planned emergency first aid, Community First Responders, and, for the first time this year, people working in care homes that have regular client contact are also entitled to the vaccine.

It’s also recommended that frontline health and social care workers have the free vaccine to protect themselves and those they care for. They can talk to their occupational health department or employer about where and when they can get their vaccine.

Important information about influenza and the vaccine

Influenza is a respiratory illness caused by a virus that affects the lungs and airways. Symptoms generally come on suddenly, and can include fever, chills, headache, cough, body aches and fatigue.

The influenza virus is spread via droplets which are sprayed into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Direct contact with contaminated hands or surfaces can also spread infection. It can spread rapidly, especially in closed communities such as hospitals, residential homes and schools.

The influenza viruses that circulate and cause illness each winter change and therefore each year the flu vaccine is changed to try and match the circulating strains, in order to give best protection.

Find out more by visiting www.beatflu.org or www.curwchffliw.org or finding Beat Flu or Curwch Ffliw on Twitter and Facebook.

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Ambulance delays as heart attack victims left waiting one hour 57 minutes

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FREEDOM of Information requests reveal the worst ambulance delays out of 22 local authorities in Wales.

Postcode lottery revealed with patients in some areas waiting over double the amount of time for life-threatening calls

The average wait time for amber calls, which includes heart attack and stroke victims was 1 hour 57 minutes. In Swansea, it was 2 hours 33 minutes.

Shocking figures have unveiled the local areas in Wales with the longest ambulance delays, revealing a stark “postcode lottery” for response times to life-threatening calls.

Figures were provided by local authority giving a more local breakdown of the usual Health Board data.

Potential heart attack and stroke victims in the worst-hit areas are now waiting an average of one hour and 57 minutes for paramedics to arrive.

The figures, uncovered by the Liberal Democrats through Freedom of Information requests, reveal how patients whose lives are in immediate danger are waiting twice as long in some rural areas than urban ones. In Anglesey, patients waited an average of 12 minutes and 22 seconds for category 1 calls compared to 6 minutes 31 seconds in Newport.

However, the figures for amber calls painted a much starker picture with an average arrival time of 1 hour 57 minutes in Wales, with the worst in Swansea, where the average wait was 2 hours 33 minutes.

Overall, 13 out of the 22 local authorities in Wales had an average wait of over 2 hours for amber calls.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling for action on the social care crisis in order to free up hospital beds and stop ambulances waiting outside hospitals.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said:

“These figures are heart-breaking, but not necessarily shocking to anyone who has had to call on an ambulance in recent months.

“Far too many people are being left to wait too long in an emergency across every region of Wales. The length of amber calls, which includes stroke and heart attack victims in particularly concerning.

“None of this is the fault of our hardworking ambulance staff who are doing their utmost in extremely difficult conditions.

“We must see an end to the postcode lottery in emergency care, it shouldn’t matter where you live, you should be able to get timely medical attention when you need it most.

“Every day we hear more and more devastating stories of pensioners left stranded for hours, or families watching a loved one die before a paramedic could reach them.

“This cannot continue, the Welsh Labour Government must bring forward extra support to get ambulance services through winter as well as a long-term strategy to ensure people can get emergency care when they need it. That means addressing workforce shortages, fixing the social care crisis and ending the shortage of hospital beds, all of which are leaving patients in ambulances stuck outside A&E for hours.”

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Ceredigion MS’ back striking Uni staff

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LOCAL Plaid Cymru politicians stood in solidarity with striking university staff at the Senedd this week, as over 70,000 staff from over 150 universities across the UK undertook three days of striking action over attacks on pay, working conditions and pensions.

The strike, organised by the University and Colleges Union (UCU), was the biggest in the history of higher education, and saw protestors gather en masse in London and Cardiff, as well as picket lines on university campuses, including in Aberystwyth and Lampeter.

The strikes come after UCU members overwhelmingly voted ‘yes’ to industrial action in September in two historic national ballots over attacks on pay and working conditions as well as pension cuts.

In September, Aberystwyth University, along with other employers, offered a standard three per cent pay increase. UCU’s demands, however, include a pay uplift of 12 per cent or Retail Price Index (RPI) plus two per cent, an agreed framework to eliminate insecure work practices such as zero hours contracts, and action to address dangerously high workloads.

The protest at the Senedd on Wednesday 30th November brought together a range of university staff, students and supporters, as well as many politicians.

Elin Jones, Member of the Senedd for Ceredigion said:

“I welcomed the opportunity to stand in solidarity with striking university staff. As the cost-of-living crisis intensifies, it’s clear that the current pay offer to university staff does not go far enough, and many will struggle financially over coming months.

Whilst staff in Aberystwyth and Lampeter are working hard to deliver an exceptional experience for their students, more and more are struggling as a result of falling pay, pension uncertainty and insecure work.”

Cefin Campbell, Member of the Senedd for Mid & West Wales concluded:

“Universities’ roles as vital employers across Mid & West Wales cannot be understated. No-one – including the university staff – wants industrial action, however the fact that the strike took place indicates the strength of feeling and frustration within the sector. At this time of growing financial hardship, I stand with the UCU staff and hope their demands will be met by universities.”

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Children’s Commissioner for Wales helps deliver powerful messages from children

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ENCOURAGING safeguarding professionals and practitioners to engage with and listen to children and young people was at the heart of an event hosted by the Mid and West Wales Regional Safeguarding Board for children, as part of its National Safeguarding Week activities and program for 2022.

The event which took place on 18 November 18 at Parc-y–Scarlets stadium in Llanelli, was attended by professionals who play a key role in safeguarding children, including police officers, nurses, social care staff and education professionals, and by children and young people from across the region, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Powys.

A safeguarding training resource and animation developed and created by the Regional Safeguarding Board’s Junior Group CADW, was officially launched as part of the event, by the Children’s Commissioner for Wales Rocio Cifuentes.

The training resource designed to be used in all mandatory multi-agency safeguarding training across the region, gives powerful messages to professionals about what is important to children and young people when practitioners and professionals may need to intervene in their lives to support or protect them.

Jan Coles, Head of Children’s Services at Carmarthenshire Council, which led and facilitated the event of behalf of the Mid and West Wales Safeguarding Board, said: “It is empowering and extremely inspiring for the children and young people from across our region to see so many safeguarding professionals and practitioners to support the fantastic work they have done.

“The messages in the animation are very powerful and we will take this forward as a regional safeguarding board and ensure they are embedded into core safeguarding practice.”

The resource as well as supplementary information and materials can be viewed here: www.cysur.wales/training/animation-training-resource/

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