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Health Board ‘working hard’ to fill GP gaps

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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: www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk
• 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

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Business offer Welsh Government help in ‘non-essential’ shopping row

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THIS morning (Tuesday, October 27), the Wales Retail Consortium, CBI Wales and Association of Convenience stores presented the Welsh Government joint recommendation to resolve the confusion over non-essential items.

The three industry bodies’ statement expresses the hope that the Welsh Government, ‘will agree to these recommendations and the people of Wales can refocus all their energies on respecting the Fire Break’.

The recommendations come in response to confused and confusing messaging from the Welsh Government, which allowed its public health message to be drowned out over the weekend by rows over whether toasters, Lee Childs novels, and size 16 jeans were essential items for customers. The confusion was not helped by a mistaken tweet by supermarket giant Tesco which claimed women’s period products were not essential items when they are and always have been.

The WRC, CBI Wales and ACS believe their recommendations will fulfil retail’s role in tackling the spread of the virus while allowing for discretion to be used on an individual basis – as recommended by Health Minister Vaughan Gething in a tense press conference yesterday, http://pembrokeshire-herald.com/61929/welsh-health-minister-defends-retail-restrictions/.

The business bodies recommend:

  • To limit the spread of the virus and allow for individual discretion, retailers will prominently display Welsh Government approved signage in front of known non-essential items and in communal areas. The signage will make clear the government’s regulation and the need to abide by it.
  • This message will be reinforced through in-store announcements and social media messaging. Advising customers to put off non-essential purchases
  • We recommend the individual customer is trusted to make their own decision as to whether a product is non-essential or not, taking into account the notices displayed throughout the store and their immediate needs
  • If the customer goes ahead with the purchase of the item the final liability ought to rest with the customer
  • Retailers will remove special in-store promotional displays of non-essential items in order to minimise browsing and avoid triggering a non-essential purchase.
  • These recommendations would mean non-essential items are not removed from shelves – or cordoned off in stores – but large notices are placed in front of the products and in communal spaces informing customers of the Welsh Government’s regulations and the Welsh public are trusted to make the right decision.

They also say they ‘look forward to engaging with Welsh Government again this morning and we hope consensus can be reached’.

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Llanelli Christmas Carnival goes online

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Preparations are underway to host the first ever virtual Llanelli Christmas Carnival. 

The carnival will go digital for the first time in its 42-year history due to the Covid-19 pandemic and in line with current Welsh Government guidance and increasing concerns about the spread of coronavirus linked to large gatherings. 

Whilst there won’t be the usual street parade, people will be able to get into the festive spirit from the comfort of their own home. 

The online celebration will be hosted as an event on Discover Carmarthenshire’s Facebook page on Friday, November 13. 

Over the years, thousands of people have been involved in the Llanelli Christmas Carnival – either dressing up to enter a float in the parade, volunteering, or simply enjoying the atmosphere with generations of their families. 

They can still get involved this year by sharing photos and video to help people celebrate good memories and help others reminisce about carnivals gone by. 

There will be a broadcast of music from talented local performers who would usually sing from the main stage, and people will still be able to countdown to the switch-on of the town’s Christmas lights. 

The largest Christmas carnival in Wales, Llanelli’s festive celebrations are a joint effort by Carmarthenshire County Council, Llanelli Town Council, Llanelli Rural Council and Llanelli Round Table. 

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “It’s very unfortunate that we can’t hold Llanelli Christmas Carnival this year, but we’re determined to keep the spirit of the carnival alive. Let’s come together and celebrate one of the biggest events in Wales from the comfort of our homes – celebrate with generations of memories and look forward to a bigger and better carnival next year.” 

Sign up to attend Llanelli’s first virtual Christmas carnival – visit facebook.com/discovercarmarthenshire 

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Free Community Crime Prevention Kits to be distributed in Llanelli area

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OVER the coming weeks, residents from both the Ty Isha and Glanymor areas in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, will receive free crime prevention kits that will aim to deter offenders and make both communities safer.

The prevention kits have been purchased through funding that was secured from the Home Office’s Safer Street Fund by Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn.

The funding of £195,673 that was secured by Mr Llywelyn will go towards measures proven to cut crime, and will include employing two Community Wardens; purchase of SelectaDNA kits, Community crime prevention activity support, Environmental improvements and Community Crime Prevention kits.

SelectaDNA kits and Bike register kits are two of the Community Prevention kits that will be distributed to residents within the local communities over coming weeks.

The SelectaDNA kits are property marking kits that include a unique formula of DNA, UV tracer and microdots, which people can use to mark their valuable household items, so that if stolen, police are able to trace them. 

Similarly, the bike register kits include stickers, frame markings and microdots to uniquely identify a bike.  Users can add descriptions and photos to ensure that in the event of a theft, their bicycle can be easily identified and returned by Police through the BikeRegister Scheme.

Dafydd Llywelyn, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys said, “I am delighted that both these crime prevention kits have been purchased through the Safer Streets funding that I secured earlier this year.  Hopefully, as they are distributed over the coming weeks, we will see that they will have a positive impact within the area.  Criminals know that DNA is the police’s most powerful weapon in convicting criminals therefore the DNA fear-factor is highly understood and acts as a huge deterrent.

“I have invested significantly in the area over recent years with community grants I made available in addition to the new CCTV system that is in place across the town. These new crime prevention kits that have been purchased through the new additional Safer Streets funding will further build upon my work over recent years and I hope the residents will feel a positive difference in their communities.

Both Ty Isha and Glanymor areas are considered to be two of the most deprived areas in Carmarthenshire according to the Welsh Government’s Index of Multiple Deprivation. The funding secured will focus on tackling all acquisitive crime such as burglary, vehicle theft and robbery within the identified areas.

PCC Llywelyn added, “Ensuring the security and safety of residents is a priority of mine – everyone deserves to live safely, and free from harm. Acquisitive offences are the crimes that the public are most likely to encounter, and they are estimated to cost society billions of pounds every year. There is strong evidence that these crimes can be prevented by tactics that either remove opportunities to commit crime or act as a deterrent by increasing the chances of an offender being caught. I now look forward to continue working closely with all partners that have supported us with our bid, to tackle these crimes in both areas and to ensure that they become safer environments for community residents.”

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