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Health Board ‘working hard’ to fill GP gaps



HYWEL DDA UHB has announced that it has managed to fill gaps in the rota for the out of hours GP service at Prince Philip Hospital, meaning that the service will be available this weekend.

However, at the time of writing, the board has not been able to staff the Friday night out of hours service at Glangwili Hospital.

Yesterday (Mar 8) it emerged that following last Sunday’s closure of the Prince Philip out of hours service Hywel Dda UHB was unable to staff the evening service on Thursday or Friday night.

Llanelli MP Nia Griffith described the situation as ‘completely unacceptable’.

“To make matters worse, the Health Board have not yet been able to staff the Friday evening shift at Glangwili Hospital. So even those Llanelli residents who are able to travel to Carmarthen to get urgent care may find themselves with nowhere to turn tomorrow night. In any case, no-one should be having to take a sick relative all the way to Carmarthen or Swansea.

“Shortly afterwards, Hywel Dda UHB released an updated statement, which said that the health board was ‘finding it increasingly difficult’ to staff rotas.

“While there remain gaps in the Out of Hours rota the only site that currently doesn’t have cover is Glangwili Hospital on Friday evening,” they added.

“The situation is changing quickly and an update will be provided on Friday afternoon 09.3.18 – please keep an eye on our website for further details. Regardless of rotas anyone in Carmarthenshire who is unwell and needs to see a GP should call 111.”

“I have written to the Chief Executive of Hywel Dda demanding a meeting and an explanation for why this has been allowed to happen. It is vital that we keep the out-of-hours GP service open in Llanelli, so I will be pressing the Health Board to explain how it plans to prevent further temporary closures and ensure a long-term future for the service.”

Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Operations Joe Teape said: “I would like to apologise for any concern or inconvenience caused due to ongoing staffing issues in the Out of Hours GP service. This is currently a familiar trend among other health boards across the country. We know that all of our staff and GPs are working really hard to provide safe services for our patients and we appreciate this. We are working together across the whole health board area and across different services to provide a safety net for our patients.

“The public’s health is our number one priority and although we sometimes cannot achieve everything that we want to achieve, we are doing our utmost to ensure that we can continue to provide services that are safe and robust for our local communities.”

In the instance of rotas not being filled, Hywel Dda UHB advised that other health care services such as minor injury units, 111 and community pharmacy, continue to be available. If after a telephone based GP assessment has been completed and someone needs to see a GP face to face they could be asked to travel to a neighbouring county within the Hywel Dda region to see the nearest available GP (the nearest available GP which may be Glangwili or Prince Philip Hospital if one of the rotas can be filled, or Withybush General Hospital, Haverfordwest, or their nearest alternative GP as instructed by 111 operators).

Following the updated statement, Lee Waters AM said he had received ‘a detailed briefing’ on the efforts made by
the health board to fill the gaps in the rota.

“With some their regular GPs away and one off sick they are really struggling to find enough Doctors provide cover, and they are having problems in Glangwili too,” he added.

“Nobody thinks this is good enough.

“The Chief Executive assures me he thinks things should be back to normal by the end of the month but they are expecting some problems in the meantime.

“This is not only a problem in our health board but right across the UK at the moment. The NHS is under enormous strain.

“We can help by using the pharmacy, NHS Direct and the 111 phone service.

“And the Health Board needs to do more to actively recruit more GPs from across the area to help out in out of hours.

If you live in Carmarthenshire and are unwell out of hours during the evenings and weekend you can do a number of things:
• for health information and advice, including online symptom checkers, please visit NHS Direct Wales:
• call 111 – they can help to signpost you to the right service, for example a GP, nurse, pharmacist or Minor Injury Unit, they also provide health information on a wide range of conditions for self care if appropriate
• use your community pharmacy, some of these have enhanced services like ‘triage and treat’ for treatment of minor conditions, including Burry Port Pharmacy
• for a minor injury, you can visit Prince Philip Hospital’s Minor Injury Unit, which is open 24/7
• ONLY in an emergency for serious or life-threatening conditions should you dial 999


Police investigate after shed fire



POLICE in Llanelli are investigating after a garden shed caught fire on Saturday night (Mar 17).

The fire, which happened between 10pm and 10.30pm in Llys y Drindod, is currently being treated as suspicious.

A fire crew from Llanelli Fire Station tackled the blaze.

Anyone with information that can help officers with their investigation is asked to report it by calling 101. If you are Deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Llanelli AM sets out bold metro vision for west Wales



SHOULD the Swansea Bay area have its own driver-less metro system?

That is the view of Llanelli Assembly Member Lee Waters, who appeared on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show this week (Mar 18),

Lee Waters outlined his vision for the world’s first fully automated metro system, and he says it should serve our local area.

Interviewed by Arwyn Jones earlier today, Mr Waters said: “The key for getting people to replace car journeys with public transport is having what we call a turn up and go public transport system. And that’s clearly not the case in Wales. In parts of Llanelli, the last bus leaves at 4pm – you’re just not going to persuade people to give up their cars under those circumstances. The question then is, how can we realistically create a turn up and go public transport system in Swansea Bay?

“We need to think imaginatively.

“The UK government expect automated vehicles to be on sale in three years time. This is happening quickly. Let’s not try and create a Manchester or a Sheffield type tram system – we’re thirty years behind the curve on that. Let’s try and leapfrog and establish the Swansea Bay Region as a test bed for this new technology.”

The driver-less system proposed by Lee Waters would employ fast-emerging technologies, including driver-less, low carbon bus transit systems. Maps and timetables would be replaced with public transport apps, with vehicles ‘learning’ over the time the most efficient routes to take. And door-to-door services could even feature.

Cautioning against a carbon-copy of the Cardiff and the Valleys Metro, the Llanelli AM called on those tasked with drafting the initial plan to match the boldness of the Swansea Bay City Region bid.

 “The Cardiff and Valleys Metro is moving very slowly, because it’s so complex. For the next five years, you’re not going to see many additional services because of the time it takes to convert track to light rail. All prerequisites to getting a rail system working in a different way. I think what driver-less technology offers us, is a chance to not bother with that and instead having these car-sharing, lift-sharing pods taking us where we want to go.”

Similar plan: A driver-less metro system proposed for Moscow

The Welsh Government have recently agreed to fund the development of a ‘strategic outline case’ for improving public transport provision across the region. The budget allocation is the first step in deciding whether or not to pursue the 10-20 year vision for a Swansea Bay Metro.

Mr Waters welcomed the funding provision, but warned against fixating on journey time savings to London – stating:

 “There’s a broader economic point to this – I don’t want Llanelli and the Swansea Bay area to be a commuting pad to Cardiff. Instead of sending people out of our area, we need a public transport system that creates viable and vibrant communities.”

 In appealing for an ambitious approach to be taken, the Assembly Member contended: “For too long we’ve played catch up. We take ages, and too often the result is pretty shoddy.

 “So let’s not do that again. We’re starting from an almost blank sheet of paper, let’s go straight to the future solution.

 “This change is happening at pace and we need to be all over it.”

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18-year-old arrested on suspicion of robbery



POLICE in Burry Port have arrested and interviewed an 18-year-old man, from the Llanelli area, in connection to a reported robbery outside Co-Op, Station Road, Burry Port.

A man was attacked and his bicycle stolen during the incident, which happened at around 9pm on Tuesday (March 13).

The suspect has since been bailed with conditions which prevent him entering the Burry Port area, while the investigation continues.

The victim is being supported by specially trained officers and his bike has since been returned.

Anyone with information about the incident is urged to contact police by calling 101. If you are Deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Quote reference 32 of March 14.

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