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Ambulance service: 3 months to improve

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ambulance“VERY DISAPPOINTING”. That was the Welsh Government’s uncharacteristically understated response to the news that the Wales Ambulance Service’s performance had declined yet again. 

The figures show that 50.8% of ambulances in Pembrokeshire arrived at the scene of an immediate life-threatening Category A call within 8 minutes. The target is 65%. Neighbouring counties of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire achieved better figures of 53.3% and 51.9% respectively, and the average for the whole of Wales was 54.1%. While Health Minister Mark Drakeford said that he expected month on month improvement. He failed to set out what steps – if any – he will take if the Ambulance Service continues to fail. Commenting on the figures, Paul Davies AM said “It beggars belief that the Local Health Board and the Welsh Labour Government continue to steam roller through with their unpopular and illconceived changes to our hospital services. It’s clear that at present the ambulance service is under great pressure, and these proposed changes to our health services will mean that patients will have to travel further for treatment, and put even more pressure on our hard working ambulance personnel.” He added “I would like to pay tribute to the dedication of our local paramedics who are being put in an impossible situation. Travelling further to get medical help will only make matters worse and once again I would urge the Local Health Board and Welsh Labour Government to stop their reckless assault on services at Withybush Hospital.” Plaid Cymru health spokeswoman Elin Jones said: “It is clear that the government has failed to deliver the improvements that are needed.” The Local Health Board has repeatedly told Pembrokeshire residents that the Ambulance Service will be able to fulfil the needs of patients in the County as its plans to slash services at Withybush proceed. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the Board has claimed that: “Concerns which were raised predominantly related to transport mainly the safety of women in labour and neonates in transit between units in an emergency situation. Discussions continue to take place with Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust (WAST) and other bodies with a view to establishing mechanisms to resolve these concerns.” The Ambulance Service’s appalling performance figures and the fact that “discussions” are continuing with only a few weeks to go before the Board cuts services at Withybush is one indication that those concerns will not be resolved before the end of July.

PARAMEDIC Colin Picton has written to health minister Mark Drakeford. We have reprinted the letter in full here. 

MR DRAKEFORD, 

I’m writing to you, not that you’re going to take much notice to this email, as you and your band of merry men have come to your conclusions already, about removing vital resources and services from our fantastic hospital, at Withybush in Haverfordwest. I would like you to answer for me, how have you come to this decision, and on what evidence your decision has been made? Do you think it’s acceptable that lives will be lost? Do you think it’s acceptable for vulnerable people to travel such a distance to receive the care they deserve? I have three healthy children and one of them was born prematurely and we used the SCUBU at Withybush, and must say the staff there were amazing, hard-working and dedicated, and I couldn’t have imagined travelling long distances to receive this care elsewhere. As a Paramedic, let me draw some interesting facts to your attention that all my other colleagues want to say, so I will speak on their behalf: • Pembrokeshire at present has 5 ambulances available 24/7 unless Welsh Ambulance are saving money (which does happen) and due to sickness some stations go without cover reducing this to 4, sometimes 3 available vehicles. • Geographically we have one of the most rural areas in Wales. Our 8 minute response times are hardly met now as it is and we are desperate for MORE resources. • Milford Haven alone is the second most populated town in west wales next to Llanelli, and this is only getting bigger, due to additional housing being built to cope with the growing population. • We have on our doorstep one of the busiest ports in the UK and Two refinery’s two LNG plants and a power station. What would happen if there was a major incident? Where would the cover arrive from? How long will it take for them to receive the specialist care they need? How many people will die in the meantime? I have been sat outside A&E for hours at a time waiting to off load, along with sometimes 7 other vehicles, now if these vehicles were out of county that is leaving no cover what so ever in Pembrokeshire, so it’s not all about the facilities that are being downgraded its the impact on the Ambulance Service being able to meet demand, after travelling such distances. In my time as Paramedic I can count at least 20 patients that if they had not received specialist care within 10-15 minutes they would have died, now there are 70-80 staff in Pembrokeshire making that figure roughly 1600. We are playing with statistics now, something like your Cabinet is doing. But that’s potentially 1600 lives that would have been lost: now are you happy for this to happen knowing that investing in our already fantastic hospital and making it a centre of excellence would be far more beneficial than making these ridiculous decisions based on no facts, no risk assessments and no thought what so ever?! I ask you: would you be happy for one of your family to wait in excess of 1 hour for an Emergency Ambulance? Would you be happy for them to travel 50 minutes in the back when they could have been 10 minutes away from the care they needed, but it had been removed due to the penny pinching government that are in power right now? In the long run, there will be so many lives lost due to all these changes the amount of money in corporate manslaughter cases will bring the Welsh Assembly to its knees. This, I don’t care about; but lives, I do. My family my friends the people of Pembrokeshire deserve better, we deserved to be listened to. We have a right to the best possible care and you’re taking this away from us all. I look forward to your response, and would hope you could give me the reasoning for these decisions, and some helpful facts on how the Ambulance Service will meet this demand, and bearing in mind we know the current situation so we will not be palmed off with your made up statistics Mr Drakeford, let’s hear the real truth for once, we deserve to know.

Kind regards Mr Colin Picton

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Amendments introduced to the Cardigan Safe Zone

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AS MORE people are expected to visit Ceredigion’s towns over the coming weeks and summer months, changes are required to ensure our streets are safe for everyone, by allowing people to maintain a 2 metre social distance at all times.

Introducing changes over the Easter period has meant that some amendments will be made over the coming weeks.

Following a review, the initial phase of the Safe Zone (Phase 2) for Cardigan will be amended to Phase 2a, with Morgan Street and The Strand remaining as a one way system (unchanged current arrangement).

Road closures affecting the High Street in Cardigan will commence ahead of the May Bank holiday weekend at the end of May. The road closures will be between 12pm and 4pm daily.

As part of Phase 2a, the following work is being undertaken:

  • Placing road markings for all disabled bays along High St & Pendre
  • Placing loading bay road markings opposite Dewi James Butchers
  • Introducing new reflective bollards to replace the red/white baulks. This will allow traders to operate in the road as per their licence. The widened footpaths within the trading areas in the road will be raised to the same level as the adjacent footpaths to create a flat accessible area for pedestrians.
  • Placing a chicane outside the Black Lion Hotel to slow traffic flow
  • Implement a one way system along College Row to improve pedestrian safety
  • Reversal of one way along St Mary St to allow access to Chancery
  • Close the top of Pwllhai for licenced trading and pedestrian safety

A map of Cardigan and all the latest information on the Safe Zones is available on Ceredigion County Council’s website: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/safezones   

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New Quay youngster answers RNLI’s mayday call and raises nearly £2,000

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OVER the May Day Bank Holiday weekend a New Quay schoolboy took to the water on his paddle board and raised nearly £2,000 for the RNLI Mayday Mile appeal. He is now urging more people to take part this May in any way they can to raise funds for equipment before the busy summer season on the coast. 

Steffan outside Newquay RNLI lifeboat station after completing his challenge

Steffan Williams, 12, a pupil from Ysgol Bro Teifi answered the RNLI’s mayday call for fundraising and decided to not just do one mile on his paddleboard but attempt 10 miles in one day. He is now encouraging more people to get involved with the appeal to raise funds.  

Steffan said, “The RNLI Mayday Mile is a great way to raise money for the charity that saves lives at sea as you can do one mile or 100 miles in any way you want. You could run it, walk it, dance it and make it fun in fancy dress. 

Steffan Williams before his challenge on Sunday May 3

“I decided to take to the sea on my paddleboard, and I am really pleased I completed my challenge of 10 miles in one day. It was really hard going as the wind picked up in the afternoon but I did not want to give up. 

“I have been really shocked at the support and want to thank everyone who has donated, I am so happy!” 

Steffan’s total so far is £1,812 and he is the RNLI’s top individual fundraiser in the UK and Ireland. To support Steffan visit https://themaydaymile.rnli.org/fundraising/steffans-paddleboarding-mayday-challenge

The RNLI’s Mayday Mile campaign will be running throughout the month of May and anyone can take part by joining up on the RNLI’s Mayday Mile website https://themaydaymile.rnli.org/.  

With more people expected to be holidaying close to home this year, the RNLI predicts a summer like no other.  

Roger Couch, New Quay RNLI’s Lifeboat Operations Manager said, “Steffan has done a fantastic job on raising so much money for the charity and we are very grateful indeed. He is a true hero. This summer we expect to be very busy and urge people visiting our coast to take the necessary precautions.  

“Always check the weather, the tides and if you are on the water remember to wear a buoyancy aid and take means of calling for help, a mobile phone or radio. Remember we are on call 24/7 so if you see anyone in trouble on the coast please call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.” 

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Contact Hywel Dda for second vaccine appointment

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HYWEL Dda University Health Board (UHB) is asking anyone who received a first Pfizer vaccine at one of its mass vaccination centres in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion or Pembrokeshire more than 21 days ago to get in touch if they have not received a second vaccine appointment.       

Ros Jervis, Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “Second doses are essential for longer term protection, so it’s important that everyone comes forward for their full course when called.

“Our records show that a small number of people across our three counties have not responded to our invitation to receive their second dose. We won’t leave anyone behind and there is still time for them to receive it within the required timeframe.”

Additional clinics will be put on in the next couple weeks to administer these second doses. If it has been more than 21 days since your first Pfizer vaccine please email COVIDenquiries.hdd@wales.nhs.uk with the subject title “Second Pfizer dose request” with your full name, date of first vaccine and a contact phone number to book your appointment. If you are unable to email you can also contact the health board by calling 0300 303 8322.

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