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Prince Philip to retain ‘acute hospital services’ following consultation

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THE HEALTH BOARD has presented its recommendations to major changes in the way health services are delivered in west Wales today (Sept 26) – and Prince Philip Hosptial will retain ‘acute hospital services’.

The biggest change is plans to downgrade Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen and Withybush General Hospital in Pembrokeshire.

At the meeting at County Hall, Carmarthen, the Hywel Dda UHB presented outputs from its recent consultation on the future provision of health and care services to the general population together with a clinical recommendation which will be considered by the Board.

The health board’s recommendation has now been published.

The recommendations were:

• Bronglais and Prince Philip in Llanelli will retain ‘acute hospital services’
• Glangwili and Withybush will be downgraded – they will be ‘repurposed’ to offer a range of services to support a social model for health and well-being, designed with local people to meet their needs.
• A new urgent and planned care hospital will be developed in the south of the health board area.

This is not the final decision, but at this stage a recommendation.

A further detailed meeting is scheduled for the end of November. If the local community health council refuses to back the plan then it could be sent to Health Secretary Vaughan Gething for a final decision.

However, Mr Gething warned earlier this year that NHS services in Wales could ‘collapse’ without urgent transformation and called on politicians from all parties to be ‘grown up’ and to not ‘run away’ from difficult choices.

Campaigners may also ultimately try to challenge the health board’s plans in the courts – although previous attempts to overturn decisions were unsuccessful.

March: Campaigners wanted to retain all Withybush General Hospital’s services (Pic Herald)

One of the recommendations in the board papers is to develop plans for the new hospital. The board is asked to progress consideration of location options within the defined new hospital zone, between Narberth and St. Clears, through a formal feasibility study.

  • Work with local people to develop models to provide enhanced support to those communities furthest from main urgent care and hospital services.
  • Consider the impact and opportunities a new hospital in the south of the Health Board area would provide to Bronglais General Hospital.
  • Develop a plan for the approach to managing emergency conditions which are time-sensitive.

Chair of the Community Health Council Dr John Morgan said: “In our day-to-day work we’re clear that the public’s frustrations come from big problems in the health system, so over the coming years the whole system has to change to give people what they need. For that reason we think the Health Board should continue to make major system-wide plans.

“However, some of the proposed changes have really worried people. Given that we feel any change to health services must provide better quality health services to the public these changes need to be looked at individually with more public involvement. With a number of the proposed changes years away the Health Board needs to provide more detail on how they would work. Only then will the CHC be in a position to consider whether we think the more controversial changes are in the public’s best interests.”

The CHC has seen how people are welcoming more care being provided in community settings close to home.

People are less happy about placing any services further away especially if they needed care in an emergency.

Public involvement in the consultation and large-scale petitions has communicated these views loud and clear.

Dr Morgan continued: “Listening to what the public have said, the consultation has created as many questions as answers. We think that there need to be strong foundations in place to build a new system upon. This means GP practices that are more robust, well-functioning established community services, better use of technology and better travel and transport arrangements, to name but a few.”

Chief Officer Sam Dentten added: “We’re starting a long journey over the next few years. We welcome change because it’s needed, but that change must bring accessible, high quality and safe NHS services. The Health Board must commit to more engagement with the public as its plans unfold and the CHC will be listening closely, maintaining our right to take matters further if we don’t think the change is in the public interest.”

Lee Waters AM and Nia Griffith MP welcome retention of services at Prince Philip General Hospital

Lee Waters AM said: “I’m glad that the Health Board listened to the strong representations that Nia and I made to them. Turning Prince Phillip into a Community Hospital was not on.”

Nia Griffith MP said: “We welcome the announcement today by the Hywel Dda Health Board to keep Prince Philip Hospital as a General Hospital and to keep acute medicine here in Llanelli, and I welcome close cooperation with ABMU, the Swansea Health Board.”

But both warned that the move of some of the planned operations out of Prince Phillip and all from Glangwili hospital into a new purpose built super-hospital near Whitland will need to be carefully managed.

Nia Griffith said: “The new hospital will be an hour away by car for most people in the Llanelli constituency, and many will be closer to hospitals in Swansea and along the M4. It’s essential that there are no bureaucratic boundaries between the health boards which get in the way of people being treated as close to home as possible.”

Lee Waters added: “About 25% of households don’t have a car and we need to make sure they can easily access the healthcare they need. And we need to make sure we can the most of digital communication so that people can have face-to-face contact without always needing to travel.”

The MP and AM will tell Health Secretary Vaughan Gething that Prince Philip needs to receive continued investment to secure a long term future.

Nia Griffith MP added: “We will be keeping close watch on the further development of the Board’s thinking on emergency, urgent and planned care.”

Lee Waters also said he was very concerned about the announcement that mental health services for the most serious cases will be provided outside of the area.

He added: “I’m worried that the new Mental Health treatment unit that was being planned for Llanelli will now be placed at the proposed new hospital near Whitland, alongside the planned new assessment unit. Llanelli is still on course to have a Community mental health centre, but that will not deal with more serious cases. Nia and I will be meeting with the Health Board to discuss this.”

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Demand for Christmas Toybox Appeal donations almost doubles

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MORE families than ever before have asked for support from Carmarthenshire County Council’s Christmas Toybox Appeal.

Families who have requested assistance are up 40 per cent on previous years, and despite more toys than ever before being donated to the appeal, co-ordinators are struggling to keep up with demand.

The deadline for donations has now been extended in the hope that more generous people will donate.

In particular, donations are being sought for older girls and boys. Anyone wishing to donate is asked to keep gifts unwrapped to allow for easier sorting.

All families who will receive support have been nominated by a social worker, family health visitor, or their school, and a strict process is in place to ensure help is given to those most in need.

The council’s Toybox Appeal is now in its 8th year, and was set up to prevent families going into poverty or turning to loan sharks to get through the Christmas period.

The Appeal also helps ensure that no child wakes up on Christmas morning without a visit from Santa.

Cllr Mair Stephens, Deputy Leader of the council, said: “It’s really very sad that we have seen such a huge increase in the number of families who have asked for, or been nominated to receive, support.

“Whilst we are amazed by the number of gifts donated this year, unfortunately, we do not have enough to meet the demand and we are appealing to the generosity of local people to help families who are less fortunate.

“We are still collecting donations, and in particular we are asking for gifts suitable for older children. We really are very grateful of all donations.”

To donate a gift, visit any of the below locations, or call Appeal co-ordinator Nia Thomas on 07814716380 to arrange collection

·         Customer Service Centre, 3 Spilman Street, Carmarthen

·         County Hall, Carmarthen

·         Natwest Bank, Carmarthen

·         Blas Myrddin at Parc Dewi Sant, Building 2, Carmarthen

·         Block 1, Parc Myrddin, Carmarthen

·         Cillefwr depot, Carmarthenshire County Council, Johnstown, Carmarthen

·         Nant y Ci, Carmarthen

·         Llandeilo Community Education Centre

·         Tesco Ammanford

·         Town Hall, Ammanford

·         Pontyberem Hall

·         Town Hall, Llanelli

·         Hub, Llanelli

·         Cathedral Hygiene, Unit 1, Dragon 24, North Dock, Llanelli

·         Burns Pet Nutrition, Kidwelly

·         Jennings Solicitors, Llanelli

·         Ffwrnes Theatre, Llanelli

·         Yr Atom, King Street, Carmarthen

·         Llanelli Library

·         Ammanford Library

·         Carmarthen Library

·         Leisure Centres at Llanelli, Carmarthen, Ammanford, Newcastle Emlyn, Llandovery, St. Clears

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Drakeford confirmed as First Minister

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MARK DRAKEFORD was confirmed as the new First Minister after a vote in the Welsh Assembly on Wednesday (Dec 12).

Carmarthen-born Drakeford succeeds Carwyn Jones as Welsh Labour leader, after Jones resigned on Tuesday.

Mr Drakeford, 64, has styled himself as a ’21st Century socialist’, and throughout his leadership campaign promoted continuity and stability as a candidate, having worked as a Welsh Government special advisor under Rhodri Morgan and being the only Welsh Government cabinet minister to support Jeremy Corbyn when he ran for the UK Labour leadership in 2015.

The AM for Cardiff West has been in the Assembly since 2011, becoming Health Minister in 2013 before becoming Finance Secretary in 2016.

Mr Drakeford grew up in Carmarthen, and was educated at the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School for Boys. He then went on to study Latin at the University of Kent, before working as a probation officer and Barnardos project leader in west Cardiff.

Mr Drakeford went on to pursue a career in academia, lecturing at Swansea University, and then becoming a professor of social policy and applied social sciences at Cardiff University.

His first experience of electoral politics was as a councillor on the old South Glamorgan County Council, before serving the Cardiff ward of Pontcanna between 1985 and 1993.

Mr Drakeford was one of the two candidates, alongside Eluned Morgan, to have produced a manifesto during the leadership campaign, setting out many of the policies he hopes to introduce. These include an extension of the smoking ban to outdoor areas such as restaurants and town centres, the cutting of emissions through greater emphasis on public transport and building on Superfast Cymru – a scheme to rollout 733,000 homes and businesses across Wales.

The manifesto also proposed installing drinking fountains across Wales, double allotments, and piloting a ‘baby bundle’ – similar to baby box schemes in other countries with a package of essential items.

Mr Drakeford also suggested introducing a committee to advise the Welsh Government on the Hinckley Point power plant in Somerset, as he has spoken of his scepticism regarding nuclear power.

The new First Minister has also backed proposals put forward by economist Gerry Holtham to fund elderly social care in Wales through a tax. An annual review of PFI contracts across the Welsh public sector would be introduced, and the 22 councils across Wales would be kept as they are.

One issue that has been subject to much debate is the potential for the M4 Relief Road, but Mr Drakeford’s manifesto does not mention it specifically. Instead, it states a commitment to dealing with congestion, citing the A40 in Mid and West Wales, the A55 in the North and the M4 in South Wales.

The other two leadership candidates, Vaughan Gething and Eluned Morgan, had both backed another referendum on whether the UK leaves the EU, yet Mr Drakeford is less set on another vote, saying he would only back it should the final deal fail to protect workers’ rights.

As Finance Secretary, Mr Drakeford has been in charge of much of the Welsh Government’s approach towards Brexit so far.

In Wednesday’s vote, Mr Drakeford was backed by 30 AMs, with 12 voting for the Conservatives’ Paul Davies and nine supporting Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price.

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Politicians welcome the creation of 85 jobs

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LOCAL politicians Nia Griffith MP and Lee Waters AM have welcomed the news that new investment in Calsonic Kansei, backed by the Welsh Government will create 85 new jobs in Llanelli.

The £4.4m investment will add to the 300 roles that already exist in the Llanelli plant, and will allow the site to develop and produce technology for Electric Vehicles and is an important part of ensuring a sustainable future for the plant.

Lee Waters AM said: “I’m really pleased that Welsh Government are investing to support companies in Llanelli meet the challenges of the future.

“We need to ensure our automotive sector is ready to make the most of the move to electric vehicles and this investment in Calsonic Kansei helps do that. One of the reasons given by Schaeffler closing is the fall in demand for the parts it makes for diesel engines is encouraging that Calsonic are adapting to the changing market.

“The Welsh Government has also used this opportunity to secure a number of commitments from the company – including to fair work and greener production. This reflects calls I’ve been  making for us to ensure that public money does more to deliver for the future of Wales.”

Nia Griffith MP added “This investment in technologies of the future is good news for Llanelli. It is a vote of confidence in our manufacturing base, and I welcome the 85 high-skilled jobs that will be created at the local plant.

“It is good to see the Welsh Government recognising the importance of Electric Vehicle technology and investing to make sure Wales leads in this area. This is key to ensuring we have a successful and sustainable automotive sector.

“Lee Waters and I will continue to work with the Welsh Government and those seeking work in this industry to ensure the benefits of this investment are felt as widely as possible.”

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