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AM views digital innovation in Morriston Hospital

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INNOVATIVE use of digital technology at Morriston Hospital has come under the spotlight as part of a Wales-wide review.

Llanelli AM Lee Waters is leading a digital panel into public service transformation on behalf of the Welsh Government.

He visited Morriston Hospital where the renal unit has made pioneering advances in the use of digital technology.

This has not only improved the way care is delivered but also how people with kidney disease can access it. Mr Waters saw the system in action and was given a presentation explaining how these improvements have been made over the years – and how clinical and IT staff came together to identify issues and find their own solutions.

Mr Waters said: “It’s not just consultant-led or IT-led. It was the whole team coming together and saying, how can we make what we do simpler and how do we develop new processes to make it smoother, for the benefit of patients?
“It’s a simple idea but devilishly complex to do. Yet they’ve been able to do it in Morriston, so if they can do it, others can do it too.

“What’s stopping that from happening is what the panel I’m leading is considering so we can make recommendations to the Welsh Government, hopefully in the next few weeks, of how to bring about change to the whole of Wales.”

Mr Waters met the team that made this happen: Renal Consultant James Chess, Consultant Renal Pharmacist Chris Brown, Senior Renal Pharmacy Technician Dafydd James, Renal IT Engineer Mike Wakelyn, and Renal Sister Debbie Hopkins.

Digital healthcare is vitally important because Morriston provides a regional renal service for thousands of patients across South West Wales. This includes people needing dialysis or who have had a transplant, all of whom require complex and lifelong medication.

The renal unit has its own dedicated Renal Medicines Service, a specialist pharmacy team working with the nephrologists, nurses and the multi-disciplinary renal team to manage these treatments.

Consultant Renal Pharmacist Chris Brown said the scale and complexity of the operation was astonishing, adding: “Making our service digital is key to making high quality care possible. Digital tools are key to making our service and care records accessible to patients.”

The unit electronically prescribes and manages medicines through a module housed within a renal electronic patient record. This e-record integrates every aspect of a patient’s care on a single platform, allowing for a highly efficient medicines management process. It also puts patients at the centre of their own care, allowing them to make decisions about their treatments by giving them digital access to their information through their smartphone or computer.

The most recent development is an Electronic Prescribing and Medicines Administration (EPMA) system. This will digitise the region’s hospital-based dialysis units in Swansea, Aberystwyth, Carmarthen and Haverfordwest. Each week thousands of drugs and dialysis treatments are given in these units. The renal EPMA is fully integrated into the e-record. This allows electronic prescribing and electronic recording of the administration of treatments in a single digital system – placing everything needed to deliver care at the fingertips of health professionals.

Renal Consultant James Chess said: “The renal EPMA was designed in-house. This was not just a lower-cost option than buying a commercial system but also meant it could be developed specifically to meet the renal service’s requirements.”

Understanding what the entire clinical team needed ensured the EPMA met their requirements and was user-friendly – such as incorporating touch-screen technology so nurses can access it quickly at the bedside.

Mr Waters said: “The impressive thing about it is, it comes from the whole team; it has been an organic change driven locally.

“It isn’t some government minister saying I want you to do this.

“This is the people working on the front line saying, we think there’s a better way of doing this and we are going to show, locally, how that can be done.

“It’s real innovation in practice, overcoming all the barriers locally and showing there’s an alternative way to do it.”

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First two cases of coronavirus in Carmarthenshire confirmed

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THE FIRST two cases of coronavirus have been found in Carmarthenshire, the Welsh Government announced today.

The two patients in the Carmarthenshire local authority area had recently returned together from northern Italy.

It comes as the Hywel Dda Health Board which serves the area opened two centres to test for coronavirus, one in Cardigan and one in Carmarthen.

The health board announced it had opened the testing centres to “help protect the health of our communities”, while also saying that centres could be opened in other areas across the health board.

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton, confirmed that a total of nine patients in Wales had tested positive for coronavirus (COVID -19) today, bringing the total to 15.

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Council unveils ambitious housing plan

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council has unveiled major plans to build more council homes and further improve its existing housing stock, including an ambition to move towards ‘carbon neutral homes’.

Executive Board approved an impressive Carmarthenshire Homes Standard (CHS+) business plan this week (February 24, 2020) in a commitment to build on a £286million programme it has already delivered to bring council homes in the county above the Welsh standard for social housing.

Pending Full Council approval in March, the council has outlined its intentions to commit £49million to continue the CHS+ programme whilst developing a new standard to further improve the energy efficiency of their homes, aiming to cut and off-set carbon emissions to ensure homes are warm, cheap to run, and easily adapted to cater for people’s changing needs.

As part of this vision, the council is planning to improve the fabric of houses so that they become more energy efficient. It will also harness off-grid sustainable energy solutions, such as wind and water, and has committed to planting 1,000 trees to off-set carbon emissions.

The council has also made a new commitment to invest £52million building more homes over the next three years as it works towards returning its housing stock to levels last seen in the 1990s.

The new programme will link to the council’s wider strategic regeneration initiatives, including developments in the Tyisha area of Llanelli, town centres and key rural towns.

The administration’s previous promise to deliver 1,000 more affordable homes is just 15 homes short of the target it set itself for 2021, including the completion of its first major new-build development since the 1970s in Pembrey, and the phase-one completion of a second development in Bynea.

Cllr Linda Evans, Executive Board Member for Housing, said the investment would not only improve living conditions for existing tenants and provide more quality affordable homes for local people, but will also contribute to providing employment and training opportunities in the local construction industry.

“The plan is very ambitious – we are building new homes and working with tenants and key partners to ensure Carmarthenshire is at the forefront of the decarbonisation agenda,” she said. “Carmarthenshire is one of three authorities working with Welsh Government to look at measures to decarbonise our homes, and this work will start in the next few months.

“The fact that we have been able to invest in our homes, we’ve been able to build suitable homes and adapt homes for people and their families is very impressive – there’s more to do, but we are ready to take the challenge. It’s a very exciting time.”

Delivery of the council’s ambitions depends on an average rent increase of 2.7 per cent, working out at roughly £87 a week for a two-bedroom home – the second lowest rent level for social housing in Wales and significantly lower than private rented accommodation.

The council will also seek £6.1million from the Welsh Government’s major repairs allowance fund.

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Llanelli: Notice of Motion follows school transport concerns

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A NOTICE OF MOTION will be discussed at Llanelli Town Council on Wednesday (Mar 4) following the concern of many parents over the loss of school transport for their children.

The motion will be proposed by Shahana Najmi, Town Council Leader and Councillor for the Lliedi Ward and seconded by Sean Rees, Llanelli Town Councillor for the Glanymor Ward.

The motion reads as follows: “Recent changes to UK legislation have led to the cancellation of many paid-for school transport with the consequence that many Llanelli school children are now expected to walk many miles often along unsuitable routes to get to School.

“This has only highlighted the need for change to how school transport is delivered. We believe that all children whether they pay or not should be able to access safe and effective school transport to enable them to get to and from school to a point safe and a reasonable distance from their home.

“We therefore write to the Ministers for Transport and Education at the Welsh Government to ask them to support a new School Transport Policy here in Wales that complies with UK legislation and ensure that children here in Llanelli are not expected to walk miles to school in often adverse weather conditions and often on unsafe and unsuitable walking routes.

“We also write to Carmarthenshire County Council to ask them to do all in their power to ensure that children in Carmarthenshire have access to appropriate school transport and consider all options available to them to ensure acceptable provision.”

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