WALES continues to have the lowest rate of coronavirus cases in the UK, Welsh Health Minister Eluned Morgan said today.
The minister said the number of confirmed cases in Wales is currently 9.3 per 100,000 people.
Eluned Morgan said: “The number of people in hospital with coronavirus is at the lowest level since the start of the pandemic. We have recently seen a period of 10 days where no new deaths from the virus were recorded – sadly Public Health Wales reported one death yesterday.
“These achievements reflect the hard work of people throughout Wales to keep themselves and their families safe.
“Over recent weeks we have however seen very troubling developments in relation to the so-called India variant of concern – or as the World Health Organisation has re-named it, the delta variant. This is further proof that coronavirus has not gone away.
“We have been carefully monitoring this new variant, which appears to be spreading in many parts of England. We have identified a growing number of cases here in Wales, including a large cluster of cases in Conwy which is under close investigation.
“This delta variant has the potential to become the next dominant strain of the virus in the UK. We hope we can contain cases and prevent this variant spreading further but we expect the number of cases in Wales will continue to increase.
“Whilst the public health situation therefore remains good in Wales, the delta variant brings a new level of uncertainty. It was in this context the most recent review of the coronavirus restrictions took place on 3 June.
“Whilst Wales is moving to alert level one as previously signalled, we will now do this in a phased way.
“Changes to the regulations from 7 June therefore focused on easing restriction on outdoor events and activities. The risk of transmission is much lower outdoors and these changes will allow people to take advantage of the summer.”
Up to 30 people can now meet outdoors, including in private gardens, outdoor hospitality and public places.
Larger outdoor organised gatherings and events for up to 4,000 people standing and 10,000 people seated can also now take place. This includes concerts, football matches and sporting activities, like organised running groups. All organisers must undertake a full risk assessment and put in place measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including social distancing.
Finally, provision now allows for extended household to be made up of three households who can meet and have contact indoors. This is an increase from two households previously.
We will consider further changes to the regulations on indoor activity later in the month, if public health conditions allow. In line with the coronavirus control plan, at alert level one this would mean the rule of six would apply for meeting indoors in private homes and in holiday accommodation.
We will also consider increasing numbers for indoor organised gatherings and restarting indoor events.
This phased approach will provide time for more data on the impact of the delta variant to become available. It will also allow time for more people to be vaccinated, which remains our best route out of the pandemic.
I am extremely grateful to Health Board vaccination teams, local partners and the many volunteers across the country for the incredible progress of our vaccination programme.
At this rate, and subject to supply, we expect to have offered all adults 18 and over their first dose by early next week and to have hit our 3rd milestone of an uptake of 75% in all of the age ranges by the end of June, a month earlier than expected. In reality, the percentage of people who have taken up their offer of a vaccine is far higher, which was always our aim.
We are currently recognised as the world Leader amongst countries over 1 million inhabitants. We have vaccinated more than 86.5% of the adult population with their first dose and nearly half have completed the two-dose course.
Yesterday I published an update to our COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy.
The updated strategy looks back at what has been achieved to date and sets out preparations for what comes next, potentially including a booster for our most vulnerable citizens and a vaccine for children and young people. We are also planning to reoffer the vaccine to those who did not take up the original offer. The roll out of second doses will also continue.
To underpin this delivery, an online system will be established in the Autumn to allow people to book appointments convenient for them. This system could potentially be used for other vaccinations moving forward.
Wales’ successful Test, Trace, Protect service was established a year ago. The Welsh Government has allocated an additional £32m to health boards and local authorities to extend contact tracing until the end of March 2022. This increases the total Welsh Government investment in contact tracing this financial year to £92m.
On 2 June we also published a refreshed Test, Trace, Protect strategy setting out how the service will adapt and respond to the pandemic in the months ahead. This includes strengthening and enhance the tracing of variants of concern, as well as the management and quarantine of people returning to Wales from red and amber-list countries.
On 20 May I set-out plans for a £100m investment to kick-start the health and care system’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This money will provide for new equipment, staff, technology and ways of working to help health boards increase capacity and cut waiting times.
As we begin resuming non-emergency care following the pandemic we have an opportunity to create a health and care system fit for the future.
Following the three week review of the restrictions on international travel, we are following the same traffic-light approach to international travel as the rest of the UK.
From today Portugal has been moved from green to the amber list. This decision follows increased concern in the spread of variants, including a mutation of the Delta variant, and the risk posed of bringing these back to the UK if people are not required to quarantine.
Seven countries have also been added to the red list, including Egypt and Sri Lanka.
I have today described some of the most recent developments in our ongoing efforts to tackle coronavirus. It remains vital we continue to work together to keep each other safe and to keep Wales safe.
Possible super-hospital plans released as Pembrokeshire site ruled out
HYWEL Dda Health Board have reduced the number of potential sites for the new “super-hospital” in West Wales from five to three.
The new site has been narrowed down to two possible locations in Whitland or one in St Clears.
According to the plans provided in Hywel Dda’s technical appraisal reports, all sites will include a main building divided into planned and urgent care, as well as a separate facility for mental health services. Parking, administrative facilities, and a helipad are also planned.
The potential Narberth site is no longer being considered, meaning that the new hospital would be built outside of Pembrokeshire.
Hywel Dda presented the findings of a “transport infrastructure analysis,” stating that both sites had bus services that are “infrequent” and “short,” making shift work difficult.
For Whitland, it noted that there was an approximate 750m walking distance from the train station to the hospital site, with recommended walking distance of 400m, and that local roads do ‘not appear’ to suffer from significant congestion during a typical weekday.
In St Clears, the report highlighted the impact a planned new railway station – expected to open in 2024 – could have on the town, saying it would be a ‘major boost’ to the area providing viable alternative car travel, with it being understood there is a commitment to increase the frequency of services at some stations along the west Wales line from two hourly to hourly.
After it was announced that Narberth would not be the site of the new hospital, Hywel Dda University Health Board Chair, Maria Battle, assured the residents of Pembrokeshire that their concerns would be taken into account.
“Our programme business case to the Welsh Government is seeking the greatest investment west Wales will have ever seen,” said Ms Battle.
“We have listened to and continue to listen to the fears and voices of the public we serve and our staff who understand the frontline challenges of trying to deliver services across so many sites and spread so thinly.
“Recognising the fragility of our services and the risk this poses every day, we do not intend to make changes at Glangwili or Withybush hospitals before a new hospital is built. And afterwards, they will continue to provide valuable health services to our communities.”
Give blood and help save lives in Ceredigion
LOCAL residents are being called upon to help patients in need by giving blood with the Welsh Blood Service.
Donations are still needed daily by hospitals to treat patients with a range of conditions, including mothers and babies during childbirth; cancer patients receiving chemotherapy as part of their treatment; and by patients involved in emergencies.
The Welsh Blood Service has also experienced a sustained period of high demand from hospitals as they continue to reintroduce services such as routine operations that require blood products. This increase means more blood donors are needed to help meet these additional needs.
One donation has multiple uses as it can be split into three products: red cells, platelets and fresh-frozen plasma, meaning one donation can save or improve up to three adults or six babies’ lives.
Across Ceredigion, over 200 donations of blood and blood products are needed each month to provide care to patients at Bronglais General Hospital.
Appointments are available at four locations in Ceredigion – Teifi Leisure Centre Sports Hall Cardigan, Newcastle Emlyn Rugby Club, Aberaeron Memorial Hall and Ysgol Bro Teifi, Llandysul.
Alan Prosser, Welsh Blood Service Director, said: “Every day around 350 donations are needed to help the 20 hospitals in Wales we supply, including Bronglais.
“We’ve always had great support from our donors in the area but we’re urging more residents to consider becoming blood donors and supporting patients in need. We’ve managed to increase our capacity in the area and we’re hoping this will help make it easier for people to donate.
“We are particularly calling on existing O negative, O positive and A positive donors to come forward but if you are a new donor and don’t know your blood type don’t worry, please sign up and we’ll do that bit for you.
“Last month, 304 potentially life saving donations were made in Ceredigion.
“As a Service, we rely on the generosity of people living in Wales to provide vital donations to patients.
“By giving up just one hour of your time, you have a unique opportunity to make a difference to people in your community and beyond.
Additional safety measures are in place at all our donation sessions, all staff wear face masks and every item is cleaned between use.
Alan continued: “If you’ve never donated before, why not try something incredible this week – sign up to donate at one of the sessions in your local area and become a lifesaver.”
Book a lifesaving donation at: welshblood.org.uk or call 0800 252 266 today.
Werndale Hospital recognised for outstanding patient care in national award
STAFF at Werndale Hospital near Carmarthen have been recognised for the quality of their patient care.
The prestigious ‘Private Hospital Group of the Year’ award is presented to an organisation that has shown excellence in its delivery of care, commitment to the community and innovation within healthcare.
Werndale Hospital was also recognised for their initiatives to support staff in their career progression and wellbeing.
The latest statistics show, 98% of patients at Werndale Hospital were satisfied with their overall level of care, 98% of patients would recommend their care to family and friends, and 98% of patients rated the nursing staff as excellent or very good.
In addition, independent analysis of Circle hospitals’ hip and knee procedure outcomes of health improvement shows that Circle scored 8.4 versus an independent sector average of 7.8 in the hip category, and a score of 15.4 versus an independent sector average of 13.9 in the knee category.
The award presented to Circle Health Group, owners of Werndale Hospital, in London in June, also noted the extraordinary contribution the teams at the hospital had made to the community.
In 2021 alone, Werndale Hospital partnered with Air Ambulance Wales and raised £1,205 to support the charity’s work in the community.
In addition to the charitable work, Werndale Hospital was recognised for it’s commitment to support staff through a series of wellbeing initiatives and career development opportunities. The judges were particularly impressed with the launch of the ‘Be Heard’ survey at the hospital.
The survey looks to empower staff to feedback on everything from the working environment at the hospital through to their own career ambitions. Building directly on the feedback from this survey, the ‘Grow Your Own’ campaign was launched which supported staff to work towards specific qualifications from nursing degrees with partnered universities through to bespoke management programmes and MBA qualifications.
As a direct result of this support for staff at what is a challenging time for healthcare workers, Werndale Hospital and Circle Heath Group were recognised as being a Top 20 Best Large Company to work for.
At the heart of Werndale Hospital’s approach to treating patients is a commitment to the community they serve.
Paolo Pieri, CEO of Circle Health Group, said: “The award is a testament to what an amazing year 2021 was for Werndale Hospital with considerable investment into the facilities and services on offer to patients in west Wales. I couldn’t be prouder of what our staff and doctors have achieved.”
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