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Health Board appeals for public support to alleviate pressure on hospitals

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HYWEL DDA UNIVERSITY Health Board is appealing for public support as its hospitals are operating under extreme pressure.  Whilst high levels of activity are usual in the winter, this year presents the extra challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a shortage of clinical staff.

The health board has responded to outbreaks of the virus in all of its acute general hospitals, resulting in closures of some wards in all acute hospitals in the Hywel Dda area during the past month.

Meanwhile, the health board has announced the transfer of all patients being treated at Llandovery Community Hospital, to Amman Valley Hospital, in Glanamman, near Ammanford, due to a number of staff, including nurses, at the two hospitals self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19. This led to significant constraints on the workforce at both sites, which meant sustaining both community nursing and community hospital services became too challenging.

Community transmission of the virus is also very high across all three counties. In the last seven days, the case incidence rate in Carmarthenshire was 305.7 per 100,000 population, with a rate of 165.1 per 100,000 in Ceredigion and 170.1 per 100,000 in Pembrokeshire.

Because of these challenges, the health board is in a very difficult position as it cannot safely staff all of beds it would otherwise expect to have open at this point in the year. Additionally, it has had to transfer some staff and patients to field hospitals in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

The health board is therefore in need the public’s help to ease pressure on the system.

  • For urgent and emergency care only, call 999 – hospitals are continuing to see patients who have medical emergencies, as well as those on cancer pathways who have been asked to attend. There are measures in our hospitals designed to keep patients as safe as possible and people are urged to seek urgent medical attention if they need it.
     
  • If you have a non-urgent need, please seek alternatives to A&E such as calling 111, visiting your local community pharmacy or calling your doctor’s surgery.
     
  • Families with relatives in hospital who have tested negative for COVID-19 and are medically fit for discharge can play a crucial role in helping us by supporting discharge from hospital to home – please call the ward sister to discuss individual needs.
     
  • Protect the NHS – and help save lives.  Following the government guidance and Keep Wales Safe by staying out of each other’s homes, except in very limited circumstances; limiting how many people you meet; maintaining social distancing; washing your hands regularly, and working from home if you can.  Also, if you have symptoms, please stay at home, book a test and only leave home to get your test. For more information please visit Coronavirus (COVID-19) | Topic | GOV.WALES

 Andrew Carruthers, Director of Operations at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “A number of vaccines are being developed and yesterday’s news about the approval of one of these is a hugely welcome and positive development. But, it is critical for the public to understand that we are still at a very dangerous point in the cycle of the pandemic and there is still some way to go before we can return to normality.

“We are dealing with significantly more cases of COVID-19 in our hospitals than we previously had in the spring. Unfortunately, this has also affected our workforce and severely hampered our capacity and escalation plans.

“While we are confident that the number of declared hospital outbreaks is now going down, and that we are able to deep clean and re-open wards safely again, the single biggest issue we face remains staff sickness. This is having a critical effect on our ability to provide care for all but those with emergency / urgent medical conditions, or those who are accessing cancer services. We need to ensure that the services we provide are safe and prioritised in terms of clinical need, so that staff are operating safely.

“I want to be very clear that we will get through this, but we need the public’s help now to stop onward transmission of the virus in our communities and give our workforce a chance to recover, so that they are able to provide safe and effective care for our patients.”

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Health

Give someone “the best gift” this Christmas by giving blood in West Wales

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A MOTHER who needed in-the-womb blood transfusions during her pregnancy and a man who depends on regular, lifesaving blood donations are encouraging communities across Wales to give “the best gift” this Christmas by donating blood.

The Welsh Blood Service is preparing to face Winter pressures on its services and is hoping their new Christmas campaign, “the best gift” will raise awareness about the importance of donating blood and the lifesaving difference it makes.

Last December over 900 donations of blood and blood products were needed across Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire to provide care to patients at Prince Philip, Withybush, Bronglais and Glangwili hospital. 

These donations play a vital role by supporting a range of treatments from helping recovering accident victims and patients with blood cancers to supporting mothers and new-born babies during childbirth.

Blood donations were needed during both pregnancies for mother of two, Shelley Parry. After her own life was saved during her first pregnancy, Shelley received several more blood transfusions directly into her womb to keep her youngest daughter alive.

Shelley explains: “Receiving blood is truly the best gift we have ever received. We’re forever indebted as a family to those who have taken the time to donate. Without the generosity of blood donors, quite simply, we wouldn’t be parents. Thanks to their selfless act, we can look forward to Christmas together as a family.

“It only takes one hour of your time to donate, if you can, please consider donating.”

Giggs and his daughter

Also supporting the campaign is blood recipient Giggs Kanias. Since birth, Giggs has received over 1,000 blood transfusions as part of his treatment for beta thalassaemia major, a severe blood disorder. Thanks to blood donors, Giggs is looking forward to celebrating Christmas with his family.

Giggs said: “I am so thankful to the incredible people who give blood. When I’m in hospital, I stare at the bags of blood being transfused into me and always wonder, who is the person that has helped me?

“I know the difference these people have made to my life and I’m so grateful to each and every one of them. Without their generosity, I wouldn’t be here today, I wouldn’t be a dad, or have had the opportunity to see my daughter grow up. Receiving blood is truly the best gift anyone could ever receive.”

Alan Prosser, Director of the Welsh Blood Service, said: “For patients like Giggs, receiving blood will be the best gift they receive this Christmas. It truly is the best gift you can give.

“Blood products have a short shelf life and is needed by hospitals 365 days a year, including Christmas day, to help support patients in need, which is why we can’t stop collecting.”

The Welsh Blood Service provides lifesaving blood products to 20 hospitals across Wales and four Wales Air Ambulance aircraft for use in emergencies.

Alan continues: “It is critical the service prepares. We need to build up blood stocks ahead of a potentially challenging winter, where seasonal illnesses and Covid-19 may exacerbate the usual winter pressures faced by the NHS.

“We are reaching out to communities across Wales to ask them to make a lifesaving blood donation and give “the best gift” this festive season.”

Do something amazing this Christmas. Give someone the best gift. Give blood. If you are aged 17 or over, book to give blood at: www.wbs.wales/Xmas21 or call 0800 252 266 today.

Appointments are available in Pembrokeshire on 7 December and January 6 and 20 in Tenby, 16 December and 27 January in Crymych, 20 December and 17 January in Haverfordwest, 10 January in Letterston Village Hall and 21 January in Milford Haven. 

Appointments are available in Carmarthenshire on 10 December in Pontyberum, 29 December and 13 January in Carmarthen, 28 January in Kidwelly Community Hall, 23 and 24 December and 4, 12 and 25 January in Parc Y Scarlets and 31 January in Llandeilo.

Appointments are available in Ceredigion on 14 December in Newcastle Emlyn, 14 January in Aberaeron and 18 January in Lampeter.

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Health

Council makes available wellbeing and mental health support for social care providers

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The programme will run until March 2022

IN RECOGNITION of the important work of the social care sector and impact of the Covid pandemic on social care providers and their staff, Ceredigion County Council has made available a programme of wellbeing and mental health support sessions.

The programme consists of Wellbeing and Mental health Awareness, Mental Health First Aid (Adults and Youth) and also offers facilitated support sessions.

The programme of events will run from December through to March 2022.

Any social care provider, carer or personal assistant can request more information or book a place on these sessions by emailing Dysgu@ceredigion.gov.uk

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Health

Information on the All Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone

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Keepers with more than 500 birds will also be required to take extra biosecurity measures

ON NOVEMBER 1 2021, the Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales confirmed a case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in a small backyard flock of chickens in Wrexham. This was following a case at a wild bird rescue centre in Worcestershire on the 27 October 2021.

A risk assessment has been prepared in light of these findings, and on 01 November, the UK risk level for disease incursion in wild birds was raised from medium to high. Additionally, the risk to poultry has been increased from low to medium, where biosecurity is inadequate. Effective biosecurity measures play a vital part in helping to reduce this risk. 

Prevention Zone

As a precautionary measure, in response to the increased risk level and to mitigate the risk of infection to poultry and other captive birds by wild birds, it has been declared that an all Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, under Article 6 of the Avian Influenza and Influenza of Avian Origin in Mammals (Wales) (No. 2) Order 2006 has been put into place. The Prevention Zone applies from 17:00 on 03 November 2021.

From 00:01 on 8 November 2021, no gatherings of poultry, galliforme or anseriform birds are permitted. Galliforme birds include pheasants, partridge, quail, chickens, turkey and guinea fowl. Anseriform birds include ducks, geese and swans. See the following guidance for more information: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/bird-gatherings-licences

The Prevention Zone will require all keepers of poultry and other captive birds, irrespective of how they are kept, to take appropriate and practicable steps, including:

  • Ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example, by netting ponds and by removing wild bird food sources;
  • Feed and water your birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds;
  • Minimise movement of people in and out of bird enclosures;
  • Clean and disinfect footwear and keep areas where birds live clean and tidy;
  • Reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas.
  • Keep domestic ducks and geese separate from other poultry.

Keepers with more than 500 birds will also be required to take extra biosecurity measures, including restricting access to non-essential people, changing clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and cleaning and disinfecting vehicles.

This Avian Influenza Prevention Zone will remain in place until a reduction in risk levels indicates it is no longer required. The Zone will be kept under regular review.

Councillor Gareth Lloyd, Ceredigion County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Finance and Public Protection Services, said: “We strongly encourage all poultry keepers, even those with fewer than 50 birds, to sign up to the Poultry Register. This will ensure you can be contacted immediately, via email or text update, in an avian disease outbreak, enabling you to protect your flock at the earliest opportunity.”

Further information

The following link provides guidance on how to register your flock: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/poultry-including-game-birds-registration-rules-and-forms

Information on the requirements of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, guidance and latest developments will be available on the Welsh Government website: https://gov.wales/avian-influenza

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