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Closure of hospitals considered by Hywel Dda Health Board

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A NUMBER of the options for health care in the Hywel Dda area involve closing or removing services from Glangwili and / or Prince Philip Hospitals, consultation documents have revealed.

As The Herald reported last week, Hywel Dda UHB is considering a number of options following a series of public engagements last year.

The plans, which were described as ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity’ by Medical Director Dr Philip Kloer, appeared to mainly involve transferring more hospital services into the community where appropriate.

This was as part of a strategy that the Health Board was looking into, to help solve an acute recruitment problem which is putting a great deal of pressure on the way that the Heath Board operates – and is leading to an untenable level of use of costly temporary staff to plug gaps and services.

However, of the nine options which have been listed at this stage, five show Glangwili Hospital closing entirely, while four also show Prince Philip close its doors.

In the instances where a hospital would be closed, it is envisaged that the service provision would be replaced by 24/7 urgent provision, and ‘community hubs’.

Other options include having planned surgery at the hospitals, or even closing Withybush, Glangwili and Prince Philip and replacing them with one centrally-located hospital.

Llanelli MP Nia Griffith said: “I will always speak up for getting the best possible access to hospital services for people in the Llanelli constituency, and for keeping services at Prince Philip Hospital.

“When I sought reassurances from the Chair of Hywel Dda, she explained that the health board is currently looking at a whole range of options, and stressed the considerable investment that has gone into Prince Philip and Pride in the services there.

“I will be keeping a close eye on the situation.”

Dr Phil Kloer, Medical Director and Director of Clinical Services Strategy said: “We are currently in the process of assessing, testing, refining and narrowing down potential options and we cannot yet confidently say to the public ‘these are the options and we believe them to be viable, safe and offer an improvement to what we already have’. We should be in that position by the spring and then we will come back out to the public for a formal consultation so they can let us have their views.

“We have taken an open and inclusive approach, allowing a wide range of people – staff, partners, patient representatives – to challenge our thinking and be involved beyond the engagement phase (which was held in the summer 2017) and into option development. We’ve taken this approach to co-produce this consultation at every stage possible. We understand this will stimulate debate and speculation in the community as people want to know right now what this might mean for their community based healthcare or their local hospital, but we believe this has been the right thing to do to really take people with us and involve as many people as possible.”

Plaid Cymru, Mid and West AM, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Simon Thomas said: “These leaked documents once again call into question the commitment of the Labour government into providing a health service for rural Wales and in the west.

“Hywel Dda health bosses appear obsessed with service change and re-organisation rather than getting on with the job of running health services. It’s only a few years since the last set of major changes, justified on the grounds of ‘sustainability’ and allegedly for the long term.

“Now once again the board are considering more changes, like a gambling addict convinced just one more bet will solve their problems. Trying to have a health service with no hospitals locally is something no other country would even attempt, but that doesn’t appear to stop this relentless ideology of pretending you can deal with an elderly population by substituting hospital beds in exchange for a few extra community health staff with ipads.

“Plaid Cymru have a long-term health plan to recruit more doctors and nurses for the Welsh NHS including our hospital services.”

Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas has tabled an emergency question in the National Assembly to seek answers from the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Vaughan Gething.

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£121k watersports funding announced for Llanelli beauty spot

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• Welsh Water, Natural Resources Wales, Llanelli Rural Council & Canoe Wales has secured ‘Access to Water’ funding.

• Visitors will be able to enjoy paddlesports (canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding), windsurfing and angling.

• Site expected to attract 90k+ visitors a year.

The recent announcement of the development of the Swiss Valley reservoirs in Carmarthenshire has been given a boost with the confirmation of an ‘Access to Water’ grant from Welsh Government, worth £121k, that will enable visitor access to the Lower Lleidi reservoir for paddle sports and angling.

The funding will realise plans to bring back a range of paddlesports to the reservoir, including stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing and kayaking.  It will also enable bank angling through the creation of recreational zones.  A range of improvements to the surrounding infrastructure are also planned to include a boat wash for biosecurity and the creation of paths and a pontoon that allows easy access to water for people of all abilities, and the refurbishment of toilet facilities.

Developing the Swiss Valley Reservoirs is expected to attract 90k+ visitors a year to the site, in line with Covid19 regulations. The ‘Access to Water’ funding is an important milestone in achieving shared ambitions for the site, and to support the funding application, a survey of local canoe clubs, outdoor activity providers and anglers was conducted which found a strong demand for access to the water for their activities. The feedback was that this is likely to generate a huge amount of interest from clubs and providers given it’s ideal geographical location. The community adoption scheme means that local people are offering to invest their own time to help look after this jewel of a community asset, and care for it into the future.

The project is well placed to support the delivery of The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015, which requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change. Whilst Welsh Water is not a public body, it is committed to working in partnership with Llanelli Rural Council, Natural Resources Wales and Canoe Wales in the spirit of the legislation.

Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said: “This is an excellent example of a scheme which increases opportunities for outdoor recreation and provides safe access to water for people of all abilities.  The development of these reservoirs will enable local people and visitors to gain more enjoyment from this beauty spot in line with covid19 guidelines and help to support a green recovery in Wales.  I hope the success of this project will encourage development of many more similar opportunities over the coming years.”

Welsh Water Chief Executive Peter Perry said, “Access to blue space is proven to be positively associated with health and wellbeing. Swiss Valley is an important asset for the local community and visitors alike. This funding is a major milestone in our efforts to bring this cherished community asset back to its former glory and make it more accessible, for the health and wellbeing of everyone.”

Jen Browning, Chief Executive of Canoe Wales, the national governing body for paddlesport in Wales, added, “Over the past eight months, we have seen an unprecedented amount of demand for canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, but the limited number of venues in Wales suitable for new paddlers has always been a major obstacle. This funding will ensure that Swiss Valley can play an enormously important role in making it possible for people of all abilities to enjoy the water, and for many to discover a passion for paddlesport and develop a deep connection with the outdoors.”

Dave MacCallum, Specialist Advisor for Water Access & Recreation at Natural Resources Wales and Chairman of NAFW Access to Water Sub-Group said: “We are delighted to have been a part of this important collaboration which will open up these new waters for responsible, inclusive recreation in South West Wales. NRW is committed to doing all we can to enable more people to enjoy Wales’ countryside more easily and responsibly – to take advantage of the many health and wellbeing benefits that getting outside can bring. Benefitting from bespoke disabled paddle-sport access facilities and a Biosecurity station promoting and enabling the Check Clean Dry initiative, the Swiss Valley reservoir project paves the way for future access to Welsh still waters so that current and future generations can continue to enjoy their visits to some of Wales’ most spectacular landscapes”

Llanelli Rural Council Leader, Cllr Tegwen Devichand said “the funding is marvellous news for the community and will enable the council to develop its plans for the reservoir in earnest. Much of the preliminary work associated with the first phase of infrastructure improvements can now get underway, in fact some work has commenced already. The physical adaptations to refurbish the toilet block, visitor car park and access to the water to facilitate paddle sports and the angling fraternity is scheduled to be completed by March 2021, but work won’t stop there. Moreover, the community response to our plans for the reservoir has been overwhelming; the council has received a great deal of local and regional support and a number of interest groups and individuals have come forward to help us deliver our plans as well as to offer their services. This is greatly appreciated and bodes well for the future.”

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Llanelli Yodel colleague celebrates 30-year anniversary

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Beverley Smith, a valued member of the Llanelli depot’s team, is celebrating her 30-year anniversary with UK independent parcel carrier, Yodel.

Beverley joined Yodel in 1990, when it was originally known as Home Shopping Network, as an Inbound Sorter and then moved onto a Customer Service Support role over 28 years ago. Beverly supports the Llanelli Management Team, provides customer service to clients and customers alike and is always on hand to answer any driver queries.

To celebrate her anniversary, Kay Dodd, Service Centre Manager, presented Beverley with £750 of Very vouchers and ordered in a cooked breakfast to celebrate.

Customer Service Support Advisor, Beverley Smith commented: “My time with Yodel has been very fulfilling – constantly challenging – keeping me on my toes. I’ve been with the company so long that I remember having to write with a pen and paper and have to fax documents to the head office daily – I can’t say I miss those days!

“I have made many close friends during the 30 years at the business and I truly have enjoyed the hard working and happy atmosphere at Llanelli every day.”

Kay Dodd, Depot Manager, added: “Bev is a valued member of my team here at Llanelli, she provides excellent customer service to customers, clients and colleagues. She has a courteous and caring attitude and goes beyond her duties to ensure everyone has a positive experience at Yodel Llanelli. Thank you for everything Bev!”

To join Beverley and the team at Yodel’s Llanelli depot, or to find out more about working for Yodel, and the roles and training available, visit www.yodelopportunities.co.uk or text ‘Deliver’ to 84433. 

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Preparatory works to start at key Stepney Street Building

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Preparatory works are due to start on a key building in Llanelli Town Centre ahead of formal planning approval.

Number 49 Stepney Street is being redeveloped as part of a significant investment in the town centre to transform, regenerate and connect its key retails and leisure areas.

Carmarthenshire County Council has submitted plans which could see the former YMCA building retain much of its character whilst providing high quality living space and commercial units

The works would include the restoration of the front façade of the building, along with the retention of the perimeter wall, main internal structural walls and bringing back many original features such as the ornate staircase.

Subject to planning approval the rest of the building would be redeveloped to include two floors of commercial space on the ground and first floors, with eight two-bedroomed living spaces on the upper floors.

There will also be residents parking spaces on the ground floor.

The works currently underway will prepare the building for redevelopment and include stripping and clearance of old materials.

Carmarthenshire County Council leader Cllr Emlyn Dole said: “Many generations of people from Llanelli will have special memories of using this fantastic building over the years and it is such a shame to see it lay empty and falling into disrepair – we’re proud to be leading on this scheme to breathe new life into it once again.”

The council has already spent £4.5million buying empty shop units from private ownership, renovating and bringing them back in to use at affordable rental levels – all of them currently occupied by independent businesses

A Local Development Order has been put in place to simplify the planning process for property owners and potential investors

This project is being procured via the South West Wales Regional Contractors Framework. Carmarthenshire County Council has appointed a regional contractor who will develop the project alongside local supply chains.

For further information on this framework, email TSSWWRCF@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

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