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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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Lifeline for cockle-gathers could be on the way after Llangennech rail crash

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Plaid Cymru MS Helen Mary Jones has raised the impact on cockle-gathers of the Llangennech derailment last year.

She received an assurance from the First Minister that the Welsh Government was looking at way to help the cockle industry.

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Economy, Transport and Tackling Poverty Minister, Helen Mary Jones MS said:

“In the Senedd I congratulated the public services for the way they co-operated around the clean-up after the Llangennech derailment, which, so far, has been very successful. I demanded a life-line scheme to help the cockle gathers.

“I raised with the First Minister issues for two groups of businesses particularly badly affected in the short-term by the derailment. 

“One of those was the very important cockle-gathering industry, the other, of course, were farmers who graze animals on those low-lying banks by the river. 

“There has been a request for the Welsh Government to consider whether some interim financial support might be made available to the cockle gatherers and the grazers while responsibility for the derailment and long-term compensation becomes a possibility. Many of these are small businesses; they operate on quite low margins and currently in difficult circumstances.

“The First Minister emphasised he was aware of the impact on cockle gatherers and particularly that they were unable to carry out their normal activities while the level of environmental contaminants in the estuary were being surveyed.

“Plaid Cymru believes it must be the polluter in the end that must pay for the damage that has been caused, but the rail accident investigation branch work is not coming to a conclusion quickly.

“The Welsh Government is expecting to receive advice in the next few days whether or not it is possible to devise a scheme through the Welsh Government in which some interim assistance to those industries could be supplied.

“The Welsh Government is keen to obtain that advice from officials in case it is possible, before the rail accident investigation is completed, so they can offer some assistance to those who have been most directly affected.”

The environmental impact of the Llangennech derailment last year was amongst the most significant in Wales since the Sea Empress disaster of 25 years ago. 

Monitoring of the site and surrounding area, which includes four sites of special scientific interest and a special area of conservation will continue for many years to come.

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UK Budget must take crucial steps to help recovery

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LLANELLI Labour representatives are urging the UK Government to take the necessary steps to begin recovery and secure prosperity across all parts of the UK.

Llanelli’s MP Nia Griffith and MS Lee Waters set out Wales’ priorities ahead of the UK Budget on Wednesday March 3 2021.

They are urging the UK Government to make a series of commitments to Wales, including:

• sustaining UK-wide business support
• delivering welfare and taxation measures to support the most vulnerable
• redressing the historical under investment in Wales on research and development and rail infrastructure
• providing an injection of funding to support the transition to Net Zero carbon emissions
• providing guarantees for Wales’ specific funding pressures

Speaking ahead of the UK Budget announcement, Nia Griffith MP reiterated her calls for continued business support for those on the lowest of incomes. She said:  

“It is vital that the Job Retention Scheme and Self Employed Income Support Scheme are retained – not threatened with being removed at the eleventh hour and putting livelihoods at risk. A delay to repayments should also be introduced for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme with recognition given to the self-employed who are facing deferred bills.”

“It is also vital that the £20 per week increase to Universal Credit is maintained and put on a permanent basis, making it available to people in receipt of legacy means-tested benefits. More than 300,000 families in Wales have benefitted from an extra £1,000 a year as a result of the uplift and removing this now would have a detrimental and long-lasting effect on thousands of households across Wales.”

Lee Waters MS said:

“The UK Government should continue to take advantage of historically low interest rates to invest in Wales’ infrastructure and public services. Particularly on rail, where we have been underfunded to the tune of billions since the start of devolution, this is the moment where Rishi Sunak can demonstrate his commitment to ‘levelling up’ all four nations of the UK.”

“This budget is a chance to hardwire a greener, fairer way of doing things into our recovery from Coronavirus. We are ambitious about our target of being Net Zero carbon by 2050, and averting the climate crisis which is increasingly affecting Wales through flooding. But to make that transition, we need a step change from the UK Government’s budget that allows us to invest in renewable energy and green jobs.”

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Search for Susan Smith continues

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THE search for missing Susan Smith is now in it’s third day. She was last seen on Saturday (Feb 27), walking in the Kidwelly area.

Speaking to The Herald, a police spokesperson said: “We are continuing to search for Susan Smith who has been reported missing.”

“The search is continuing today with specialist police officers making house to house enquiries in the Kidwelly, St Ishamels, Ferryside and surrounding areas.

Sergeant Fiona Phillips said: “It is important that we build a picture of Susan’s movements after she was last seen on Saturday and I would appeal to anyone who believes they may have seen her to contact police.”

Susan was last seen 1.30pm Saturday, February 27 2021, walking in the Carmarthen Bay Holiday Village, Kidwelly area. She is known to walk along the beach to St Ishmaels and Ferryside.

She is described as approximately 5ft2 inches tall, petite with shoulder length blonde hair and believed to be wearing black jeans, a black fleece type jacket and navy and grey walking boots.

Any who has seen Susan or anyone who may have information that could help the search is asked to contact Dyfed-Powys Police, quoting reference 285 of Saturday 27th February.

Police can be contacted either online at bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or 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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