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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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Man jailed for assaulting three officers during arrest

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THREE female officers carrying out their duties suffered injuries in an unprovoked attack at the hands of the man they were trying to arrest.

Officers had executed a warrant at the home of John Steven Knight, in Stafford Street, Llanelli, for an unrelated matter. Because the 37-year-old was not home, PC Jaye Blanco-Martin, DC Eleri Owen and colleague who does not want to be named, attended his work in Ammanford.

As officers spoke with Knight he was initially calm and compliant. But then he tried to unlock his phone.

The DC who is not being named said: “In fear that Knight was attempting to delete evidence and frustrate a police investigation I took hold of his left arm to try and seize the phone. 

“Knight’s personality and attitude towards the officers changed instantly.

“He moved his phone to his other hand and immediately started to fight us.  He was pulling away clearly trying to escape.

“Out of nowhere I felt a sudden push from Knight using his full body weight and as a direct result of this blow and I fell to the ground and hit my head. I immediately felt pain and discomfort to my head and it started throbbing.” 

In the struggle, all three officers ended up on the floor having been shoved and thrown into furniture, walls and a door frame.

Despite Knight’s efforts, the officers were able to arrest him, although they were left with the marks to show they had been in a struggle.

One officer suffered a suspected head injury that required a CT scan, while all three suffered cuts and bruising to various parts of their bodies.

The officer added: “I was incredibly worried for mine and my colleagues’ safety.  Knight was a well built and over 6ft and had the strength to take three officers to the ground with him.”

Knight appeared at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on September 29, the day after his arrest, on September 28, when he was sentenced to 12 months in prison.

Following the terrifying ordeal DC Owen said: “During the whole incident I was afraid not just for my safety but also my colleagues.

“That it was only three females with a male who was around 6ft 2ins resisting and assaulting officers made me feel vulnerable.

“I will never forget this, it will be something that stays with me throughout my career. I did not expect to go to work that day to be assaulted. I was just carrying out my duties.”

After a rise in such assaults, Dyfed-Powys Police has linked with Wales’ emergency services to launch the year-long ‘Work With Us, Not Against Us’ campaign.

It came after more than 4,240 assaults were committed against emergency workers, including police, fire and ambulance crews, in the period April 2019 – November 2020, representing a monthly average increase from 202 in 2019 to 222 in 2020, or 10%.

Temporary Deputy Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police, Emma Ackland, said: “Assaults on police officers continues to increase and this is completely unacceptable. No officer should expect to come under any sort of attack when doing their best to serve the public and potentially save lives.

“It is vitally important that sentences given reflect the harm and upset caused to these victims – professionals doing their work.”

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Town centre triumph as food festival returns

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THE people of Llanelli treated themselves on Saturday, October 16 as Llanelli Food and Drink Festival returned for its third stint in the town centre. 

Crowds turned out in droves as hot street food vendors and artisan producers lined the streets in the event organised by Ymlaen Llanelli, the town centre’s Business Improvement District (BID).

Chair of Ymlaen Llanelli, Lesley Richards, was thrilled with the event’s success: “The annual food festival is our biggest event, and it was great to see people excited for it to return after a year away. Our work at Ymlaen Llanelli is all about bringing people together in Llanelli town centre, so we’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone that came along and made the day what it was. We can always rely on the people of Llanelli to bring the party!”

The sun was shining as festival-goers as they tucked into their treats and were entertained as a lineup of acoustic acts took to the stage in Stepney Square. 

Children and adults alike got stuck into the food-themed crafty fun as the vintage pottery bus Annibendod offered Mad Hatter’s Tea Party pottery, while A Taste of Times Past hosted pickling and pasta-making workshops in St Elli Shopping Centre.

BID Manager, Mandy Jenkins, was pleased with the day: “It was brilliant to see town so busy, and we’ve had incredible feedback from our businesses who were choc-a-block on the day. On top of that, the public response has been phenomenal, so we really couldn’t be happier. Thank you Llanelli!”

Ymlaen Llanelli returns for some festive fun with Llanelli Reindeer Parade on Saturday, December 4.

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Police: New scientific evidence shows that David Morris was correctly convicted

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SOUTH WALES POLICE say that an independent investigative assessment into the Clydach murders in 1999 have shown that there is a scientific link between David Morris and a sock, widely accepted as being used by the offender during the killings.

David Morris was found guilty of murdering an entire family of four including two young girls.

But potential new witnesses, along with the views of experts, had given campaigners calling for his release fresh hope.

However Morris, 59, died in prison in August.

He spent 22 years in jail for killing Mandy Power, 34, her daughters Katie, 10, and Emily, aged eight, and her 80-year-old mother Doris Dawson.

A bid to again take his case to the Court of Appeal was rejected in 2018 by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

In July the Crown Prosecution Service said no information had been provided by the potential new witnesses to undermine the conviction.

The review, which was being overseen by Devon and Cornwall Police, was then expected to move on to look at forensic issues also challenged in a recent BBC television documentary about the killings.

Police say that the scientific examination of the sock has identified the presence of a mixed *Y-STR profile using technology which would not have been available to the original investigation team over 20 years ago.

While the presence of a link to Morris (or a male relative of his paternal lineage) and the mixed Y-STR profile has been identified, the science cannot determine how or when this profile was transferred onto the exhibit, but the conclusion of scientists is that it is “more likely” that Morris contributed to the DNA profile found on two different areas of the blood-stained sock than if he did not contribute DNA to them.

Following the tragic events in Kelvin Road, Clydach in June 1999, South Wales Police carried out an extensive investigation into the murders and the scale of the investigation was the largest and most complex ever undertaken by a Welsh police force.

In 2002, David Morris was convicted of the murders by a unanimous verdict at Swansea Crown Court. His conviction was overturned on appeal due to a conflict of interest by a defence solicitor. A retrial was held at Newport Crown Court in 2006 and Morris was convicted again. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The matter has been considered by the Criminal Cases Review Commission as recently as 2018. Following a thorough review of the case material they decided not to refer it to the Court of Appeal as no new evidence had been identified.

In November 2020, legal representatives of Morris contacted South Wales Police requesting the release of various exhibits from the investigation.

This request was the subject of careful consideration and the force decided on a course of action which involved the appointment of an independent senior investigating officer and an independent forensic laboratory to oversee a forensic review of the case material.

This work – carried out under the banner of Operation Dolomite – has been led by experienced detectives Steve Carey and Ian Ringrose, supported by police forensic expert David Lloyd, all of whom are from Devon & Cornwall Police. An independent forensic science laboratory, Cellmark Forensic Services, was commissioned to carry out forensic work.

Following the death of David Morris on 20th August 2021, permission was given by his family to obtain a blood sample to allow forensic examinations to take place.

Assistant Chief Constable David Thorne, of South Wales Police, said: “The decision to carry out an investigative assessment did not constitute a reopening or reinvestigation of the murders, nor did it demonstrate any lack of confidence in the conviction of Morris and the subsequent case reviews. Morris was convicted unanimously by a jury on the strength of the prosecution case and independent reviews by the Criminal Cases Review Commission have never identified any evidence which would determine the conviction to be unsafe.

“However, the advancement of forensic technology has provided the opportunity for evidence-based answers to some of the questions which have been raised about forensic issues in this case, along with other matters raised by the BBC Wales documentary ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt’. The appointment of Steve Carey and his team has ensured the review has been conducted with a layer of independence.”

The outcome of the investigative assessment has been communicated to the victims’ families, the family and legal representatives of Morris and others affected by this case.

Mr Carey said: “My team has carefully examined the issues raised and subject to the terms of reference for Operation Dolomite.

“In the opinion of the forensic scientist regarding these results – which were obtained from samples extracted from two separate areas of the sock at the time of the original forensic examination – it is more likely that David Morris (or a close paternal-line male relative of his) contributed DNA to them than if he did not.

“In relation to one sample, the lead forensic scientist has stated to me that in his opinion the low-level and incomplete mixed Y-STR result is as would be expected if Morris had contributed DNA to it. For another person to have contributed to it, the components must match by chance.

“The scientist would have a very low expectation of selecting a male individual at random from the Western European population having components in their Y-STR profile being represented to the same extent as those in the Y-STR profile of Morris.

“To test this, an evaluative tool developed by Cellmark Forensic Services showed that from a dataset of 9,357 Western European males, no-one is represented to the same extent as the component in the Y-STR profile of Morris.

“It should be noted that the results do not allow the scientist to interpret how the DNA got onto the sock and therefore whether this was through directly touching the item or indirect transfer but the identification of this link has been possible due to the development of technology which would not have been available to the original investigation team.

“This is significant as the sock was recovered from the murder scene and it was widely accepted that it was used by the killer.

“The outcome of the forensic assessment and completion of further actions have not established any information that undermines the conviction of Morris. In my view, as the independent senior investigating officer, the new findings from the samples taken from the sock support the existing evidence that originally convicted him.”

Operation Dolomite also investigated accounts provided by two witnesses who featured in the BBC documentary. They were interviewed by officers and several enquiries were conducted to try and corroborate and support their accounts.  All this evidence was shared with the Crown Prosecution Service. None of the information provided by the witnesses undermines the conviction of Morris.

ACC Thorne added: “Notwithstanding the fact that Morris has been convicted based on overwhelming evidence against him, South Wales Police has shown a commitment to providing evidence-based answers to the issues which have been raised about this case over many years.

“This commitment has now resulted in a forensic link between the convicted killer David Morris and an item of great significance which was recovered from the murder scene. South Wales Police commissioned the review in the hope that we could in some way provide closure for those most affected by the murders. In particular, those who lost three generations of the same family and have had to revisit those painful memories time and time again over the last two decades.

“The findings from Operation Dolomite will be shared with the Criminal Cases Review Commission to complete the due process and demonstrate transparency.  However, in the knowledge of the conclusions drawn from this review, South Wales Police would like to show respect to the family and those affected by these terrible crimes by finalising this case.

“Our thoughts as ever remain with the family of Mandy Power, her children Katie, aged 10, and Emily, eight, and her 80-year-old mother Doris, who still experience such painful memories even to this day.”

Following the refusal by the CPS to look at new evidence before David Morris died, Janiene Morris, one of David Morris’s two daughters, said: “This is another massive blow to dad’s case and as a family we just don’t understand it.”

She said at the time that the evidence of a taxi driver who had sighted unidentified people near the murder scene had been discounted. In all, she said there were three witnesses that had placed others near the murder scene on the night of the killings.

“We’ve never met them and don’t want to because we want to do things properly. These witnesses have was not involved with anyone in the case and have absolutely no reason to lie. I cannot express how angry and frustrated we are right now. It is so frustrating, but we’re not going to take it lying down”.

Speaking in July, Janiene said: “He is up and down. He has good days and and bad days. Sometimes he is just exhausted with everything that is going on. We are looking forward to seeing him.”

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