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Ash Grove GP partners return contract

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THE FUTURE of Ash Grove Medical Centre is currently uncertain after Hywel Dda UHB announced this morning that the Partners were returning their General Medical Services Contract to the Health Board in August.

A spokesperson for the health board said that ‘the continued sustainability of general medical services for the population is a priority for the Health Board and we have started to develop a robust plan over the next 6 months to secure a bright and strong future’.

“We are asking those patients registered with the practice to be part of the decision-making process regarding the future,” they added.

Elaine Lorton, Assistant Director of Primary Care at the Health Board said: “We accept that this may cause some concern for the community and I wish to reassure patients of Ash Grove Medical Centre that they can still access GP services locally at the Surgery’s premises as normal.

“We urge patients not to try and register with any other local practices at this point,” she added.

“I am pleased that the Ash Grove Medical Centre has committed to work with us to ensure that patient services continue to be provided and we have also started discussions with other GP Surgeries locally to explore potential solutions for the future. The Health Board appreciates the continuing support given by the community and remains committed to maintaining the high standards of care currently provided at Ash Grove Medical Centre.

“We will write to patients shortly giving them further information about the options we will be considering along with details of an information and forthcoming drop-in session that we will be organising towards the end of April.”
Following the news, Lee Waters AM and Nia Griffith MP issued a joint statement explaining that they have written to the Chief Executive of Hywel Dda seeking reassurance that people currently registered at Ash Grove Medical Practice will continue to have full access to a local GP.

They have asked the Chief Executive to ‘set out in detail what plans the Health Board has to find a solution to the situation at Ash Grove Medical Centre that maintains a GP practice in this area and ensures that patients currently registered there will have continuing and undiminished access to GPs’.

In their letter to the Health Board, Ms Griffith and Mr Waters reference the ‘widespread public concern about GP provision in the local area’ and point out that the threat of a potential reduction in these services would be ‘cause for significant alarm’.

“We all need access to local GPs”, they wrote, “and we would expect the Health Board to do everything it can to ensure this can continue here.”

They also urged Hywel Dda to learn lessons from similar situations in the past in terms of communicating news to the public by giving people precise details and reassurance that they will be properly cared for, adding that ‘people must not be left in the dark on this’.

The news comes a fortnight after concerns about primary care provision were raised during a Hywel Dda UHB presentation to Carmarthenshire County Council.

Cllr Glynog Davies highlighted the serious problems in primary care provision across the Board area and pointed out that for any of the service reorganisation options under consideration to be effective there would need to be a substantial investment in and reorganisation of GP provision and the way in which GPs delivered services.

“How,” Cllr Davies asked, “will you do that?”

The responses from Dr Rhian Dawson and Dr Phil Kloer did not address that issue clearly. However, the need for greater joint working with GPs was stressed. It was also noted that GPs had acknowledged in discussions with Hywel Dda UHB that primary care provision across the region was not working as well as it could.

If anyone would like to share their views with the Health Board on the future services for Ash Grove Medical Centre patients, please write to Tracey Huggins at Hafan Derwen, St David’s Park, Job’s Well Road, Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire, SA31 3BB.

In the meantime, patients of Ash Grove Medical Centre should direct enquiries to Laura Lloyd Davies, Primary Care Locality Development Manager on 07805 799658 or the Health Board’s Patient Support Services on 0300 0200 159.

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Llanelli bus depot to close after 100 years

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THE LLANELLI HERALD understands that the Llanelli Bus Depot at Inkermans Street will be closing its gates for good. 

The Bus Depot has served the local community for approximately 100 years, Drivers will now be sent to work from depots in Carmarthen, Swansea and Tycroes. 

All services will remain in the the town, this newspaper can confirm, and our reporter was told that there will not be any redundancies. 

One bus driver told us that he and he co-workers were “not completely happy”, but the unnamed source added “At least we still have jobs to go to.” 

Further updates are expected on this developing story.

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Two week national ‘Firebreak Lockdown’ announced for Wales from 6pm on Friday

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MARK DRAKEFORD, The First Minister of Wales has announced a two week ‘fire break’ lockdown from Friday October 23 at 18:00 HRS, to last until Monday November 9 at 00:01 HRS

Mr Drakeford said: “This firebreak is the shortest we can make it. It must be sharp and deep in order to have the impact we need it to have on the virus.”

All non essential businesses, including tourism businesses will be told to close.

Businesses have been told that they will be given £1000 each automatically to help with the economic impact of the shutdown.

Mr Drakeford added that children will be the priority and that childcare facilities will open as normal. Primary schools will open after half term.

Secondary schools will be closed for a week after half term to help control the virus.

Universities will offer a mixture of face-to-face learning and learning via video link. Students must stay at their university accommodation during the lockdown.

Responding to the Welsh Government’s announcement of a Wales-wide lockdown, Paul Davies MS, the Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament, has called the lockdown “not-proportionate” and is calling on the Welsh Government to be “open and transparent” on the evidence to support a lockdown and if the First Minister is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns every month.

Paul Davies MS said: “Sadly, the First Minster has failed to get public support for this second Wales-wide lockdown, failing to be open and transparent about the evidence to justify this lockdown and what his actions will entail for the future.

“The Welsh Government also has to be honest that this road they are taking us down is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns. This is not a two-week break to solve the pandemic, it is likely that we will see regular lockdowns across the rest of the year. The Welsh Government must be clear what actions they are taking during the lockdown to prevent further Wales-wide lockdowns which will have a significant impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.

“However, the main concern is that this national lockdown is not proportionate. The impact on businesses in areas such as Powys, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, who have the lowest rate of Covid-19 cases in Wales, will be severe at a time when they are desperately struggling to recover from the pandemic so far this year.

“The First Minister needs to urgently come to the Welsh Parliament and answer these questions, to face effective scrutiny by elected representatives and not run his government by media.”

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP, Stephen Crabb told The Herald: “The evidence to support an all-Wales lockdown is weak and I am sceptical that this so-called ‘fire-break’ will tackle the situation in those parts of Wales where infection rates have been out of control. The key issue for Welsh Government to address is what will be done differently after the firebreak ends in those parts of Wales where infection rates have spiralled out of control. Otherwise the whole of Wales risks being dragged back into a series of rolling lockdowns.

“As we saw earlier in the year, lockdowns come with huge costs in terms of harm to the economy and to people’s emotional and mental wellbeing. With the Welsh Government asking UK Government to fund this lockdown, I hope that as many businesses as possible get support they need quickly. Pembrokeshire’s hospitality businesses will be hit particularly hard by these latest restrictions and I will be fighting hard again to see that they are protected as the lockdown kicks in.”

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Drakeford to make decision on ‘fire-break’ lockdown in Wales by Monday

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WALES is facing a national lockdown lasting at least two weeks in plans described as a “fire-break” by the first minister.

He said a decision was likely to be made on Monday, while talks continue with health officials, scientific advisors and councils over the weekend.
“Doing nothing is not an option,” he said.

Responding to the speculation First Minister, Mark Drakeford, is set to announce a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown in Wales, Welsh Conservative health spokesperson, Andrew RT Davies MS said: “I implore the First Minister to think again before heading down this path.

“The decision to lockdown Wales once again will have devastating consequences – from an economic and public health perspective – and should be the last resort.

“Only yesterday, the former director of communicable diseases at Public Health Wales, Dr Roland Salmon, said a circuit-breaker is likely to fail and the Welsh Labour Government should listen carefully to his warning.

“Earlier this week, Welsh Conservatives called for the urgent resumption of shielding in Wales with a substantial package of support to ensure the financial, physical and mental well-being of those most at risk is protected.

“This should be the immediate action taken by ministers along with prioritising PPE and testing in the problem areas in Wales such as hospitals, care home, universities and meat factories.

“It’s not too late for the Labour Government to reconsider and choose a different approach in Wales.”

Mr Drakeford warned that 2,500 people were now being infected with coronavirus every day in Wales, with critical care units in hospitals full.

“A successful fire-break would re-set the virus at a lower level,” he added.

Together with a new national set of rules for the whole of Wales after the fire-break period we would have slowed the virus down enough to get us through to Christmas.”
Plaid Cymru has been calling on Mr Drakeford to introduce the circuit-breaker without delay, while Labour at Westminster says a similar approach should be adopted in England.

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