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Hywel Dda responsible for 40% of overspend by health boards

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HYWEL DDA UNIVERSITY HEALTH BOARD is responsible for more than 40% of the total overspend by Welsh health boards, it has been revealed.

By the end of this financial year, a total of £163m will have been overspent, according to a BBC Wales analysis.

Of that sum, £69.6m will have been overspent by Hywel Dda.

The huge figure is an increase of 40% from last year, with an overspend of just under £50m.

The total health board deficit figures are:

  • Hywel Dda Health Board (West Wales) – £69.6m
  • Betsi Cadwaldr University Health Board (North Wales) – £36m
  • Abertawe Bro Morgannwg (South West Wales) – £30m
  • Cardiff and Vale (South Wales) – £26.9m

The amount spent on temporary doctors and nurses at Hywel Dda hospitals, due to ongoing recruitment problems, is largely to blame.

Hywel Dda said in their latest financial report that their savings had been ‘the best so far’ this year, however this had been countered by ‘local cost pressures’.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said that if the health boards were overspending they would not be ‘bailed out’ by the Welsh Government.

The Welsh NHS was also warned that it was facing ‘the most financially challenging period in its history’.

A spokesperson for The Welsh Government said that it was increasing NHS budget above what had been recommended.

They said: “Investment in our NHS is at a record high and Wales already spends considerably more on health and social care per head than in England.

“We are also investing an additional £550m over the next two years, including £100m to help transform the way health and social services are delivered.”

Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Secretary, Angela Burns AM, said: “These soaring deficits show a health service in Wales which is teetering on the brink of financial abyss.

“Failures by the Welsh Labour Government to initiate long-term planning measures for health boards and to break the culture of waste and inefficiency have all played their part in the mess our NHS now finds itself in.

“From Hywel Dda to Betsi Cadwaladr – which is in special measures and under direct Welsh Government control – the situation across Wales is getting worse and worse.

“There is a real risk that health boards will soon be forced to cut vital services in order to make savings, and it’s patients and staff who will be left paying the price.

“This once again raises very serious questions for Labour’s Health Secretary who seems to have run out of ideas and has promised not to bail out health boards.

“To avoid any further damage to services and public confidence in them, Vaughan Gething needs to instigate swift root-and-branch reforms of the health service focused on better planning, smarter spending and stronger public health messaging.”

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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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