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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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Local charity wins award

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AFTER winning the hearts of judges and residents, local Llanelli charity, Ail Gyfle Second Chance, has been named as a winner in the Jewson Building Better Communities competition.

Following thousands of regional entries being submitted from across Great Britain, the community rehabilitation and skills development centre has been awarded £4,000 worth of materials from the builders’ merchant.

Using their winnings, Ail Gyfle will expand its current facilities to make the charity accessible to people with disabilities, by levelling out the yard and installing disabled toilets.

This year’s Building Better Communities competition was launched in April 2018 and more than 2,400 entries – made up of good causes from up and down Great Britain – were submitted. These were later narrowed down to a shortlist and put to a public vote, with the winners announced at an awards ceremony held in Coventry on July 3.

At the event, Ail Gyfle and 36 other UK successful projects were presented with prizes by renowned architect and TV personality, George Clarke. After being awarded their prize, Sian Waters, CEO, Ail Gyfle Second Chance said: “This is perfect and will make a huge difference for us. We’ve had accessibility issues in the past, but we’ll use the materials to make our building more disabled friendly, which will open up so many doors when it comes to helping more people in the local community.”

George Clarke commented: “It’s community charities like Ail Gyfle which help bring people closer together and Jewson does great work in supporting them with Building Better Communities. This competition is a fantastic idea and it’s always great to see so many happy faces at the awards presentation.

“By giving something back to the areas that support them, Jewson is creating brighter futures for those who need it. I’d like to congratulate Ail Gyfle on their deserved win.”

Jewson Managing Director, Thierry Dufour, added: “At Jewson, we believe in the positive power of community spirit and it is local causes such as this one, which bring this to life. By lending a helping hand to those who need it, we can help build better communities across Britain and support those unsung heroes who go out of their way to help others.”

Building Better Communities is being supported by Jewson supplier brands: Velux; Marshalls, Polypipe; British Gypsum; Tarmac; Recticel and Norbord. To see the full list of winners, visit: www.buildingbettercommunities.co.uk

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Shark catch may be biggest ever in Welsh waters

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A LLANELLI fisherman had a day to remember on a recent angling trip – landing a massive 21 stone shark.

George Simmonds was on a charter trip fishing out of Dale, Pembrokeshire, when he hooked the enormous thresher shark – thought to be the biggest ever caught in Welsh waters

It took him two hours to land the shark, and three men were needed to lift it onto the boat, where its weight was calculated before it was released alive.

Only three thresher sharks are believed to have been caught in Wales, with the previous record set in 2015 by Mr Simmonds’ friend, David Thomas – also in waters off Milford Haven.

The pair were together on the latest fishing expedition on Wednesday morning when they saw a pair of thresher sharks leaping from the water, before Mr Simmonds’ reel started to spin. The shark ran off around 300m of line, and was finally landed after over two hours.

“It was pretty hard and when I saw it, let’s just say I said a few choice adjectives,” he said.

“I’ve been fishing since I was young enough to hold a fishing rod and I’ve travelled all over the world fishing – but this was a big moment, a personal achievement for me.

“It’s so rare and difficult to land a thresher shark as they are so large. In the shark world, it’s up there at the top of the list.”

Thresher sharks get their name from their long tail, which is often as long as their body. The sharks are active predators, and are commonly found along the North American and Asian continental shelves.

Meirion Williams, from Bridgend – who is known as Pie – organises regular shark fishing trips in the summer months off the Pembrokeshire coast and was with Mr Simmonds and others when they made the catch.

He said records showed it was only the third thresher shark caught off the coast and they believed it was a the largest and heaviest – but they are unable to claim an official record because they did not kill their catch.

“It was so big it got caught in the hatch door of the boat as we tried to get it on board,” he said.

“The body was 6ft 8in long and the tail was 6ft – it was the length of the boat.

“We put the shark back quickly and then it swam off really calmly.

“These sharks are very, very rare to see in Wales and so hard to catch.”

Andy Truelove, the skipper of the boat, added: “As with any shark there is a risk of being bitten and it does happen – never seen an incident myself and wouldn’t want to, teeth are like razor blades.

“With a thresher there is also a risk from the tail, it could do you a lot of damage. Fortunately this lady was well behaved.”

Research published this week showed that Pembrokeshire was one of the top five places in the country for spotting different species of shark, with more predicted to move into the waters around the coast as a result of rising sea temperatures over the next 30 years.

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Homeless man killed by drink and drugs

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A HOMELESS man who had spent the majority of his life with no fixed abode passed away after drinking heavily and taking morphine on the same night.

An inquest held at Llanelli Town Hall on Wednesday (Jul 18) heard that 50-year-old Colin Young was born in the Merthyr area and grew up in Aberdare.

He became estranged from his family, and aside from a brief spell working as a painter and decorator, he spent much of his time moving between the Valleys and Llanelli, living on the streets, which was partly the result of drug and alcohol issues.

Coroner’s Officer Hayley Rogers explained that on the evening of April 19, Mr Young visited a friend’s house and after consuming alcohol fell asleep on the sofa.

A short time later, in the early hours of April 20, he was found in an unresponsive state, and the emergency services were called. However, despite the efforts of paramedics, he was pronounced dead at 3:44am.

A post-mortem gave the cause of death as mixed drug and alcohol intoxication, and the death was treated by police from the outset as unexplained and non-suspicious.

Coroner Mark Layton quoted the toxicology report, which showed a high level of blood alcohol and the presence of a quantity of morphine. The latter, combined with alcohol, was sufficient to be fatal, he added.

In conclusion, the death of Mr Young was found to be related to the drugs and alcohol he consumed in the last hours of his life.

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