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Health

Lack of GP services in Trimsaran raised with First Minister

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PLAID CYMRU MS Helen Mary Jones has raised the lack of GP services in Trimsaran in the Senedd during First Minister questions. 

While she was positive overall about the way the Health Board has handled the Covid crisis, she said she had had some concerns raised with her.

Reacting to a petition started by Trimsaran Plaid County Councillor Kim Broom, Helen Mary Jones MS said:

“During the pandemic health boards across Wales have had to make changes in the provision of primary care. One example is the GP surgery in the village of Trimsaran in the Llanelli constituency that has had to be temporarily closed so space  can be used for treating COVID patients if necessary.

“While, the community has accepted this, they are concerned, both in the immediate situation, because they have to travel now to Kidwelly, and at the same time the bus services have been cut because of COVID—a perfect storm, but perhaps unavoidable. But there is a suspicion that the health board may use the COVID crisis to permanently close that surgery.

“I raised the concerns directly with the First Minister, Mark Drakeford last week to ask for reassurances to my constituents in Trimsaran that the Welsh Government does not expect any changes to primary care services made because of the COVID crisis to be extended beyond the pandemic without proper assessment and consultation.”

The First Minister agreed with Helen Mary Jones MS. Mark Drakeford replied:

“Well, let me just emphasise the last part of what the Member said, because, on that basis, then I could sign up to what she just said, because I was about to say to her before she’d made that final point, that, of course, many of the changes that have happened during the pandemic we will want to see them continue afterwards. But they need to be properly consulted upon, and they need to be properly understood. But, the fact that we have thousands of video consultations happening every day, and people no longer having to travel inconvenient distances, and do things that were difficult for them to do, we’ll want to preserve those things as well. 

“The specific point that Helen Mary Jones makes points to a dilemma. I’ve been asked a number of times on the floor of the Senedd to think about having COVID-only hospitals, and, therefore, other hospitals that deal with all the non-COVID things. But when you do that, it’s inevitable, as you see in Trimsaran, that the things you would normally go to a hospital for will no longer be available to you, and you have to travel an even longer distance to find them. So, dealing with the pandemic and trying to keep people safe, and trying to make sure that people who need the health service for non-COVID reasons don’t run the risk of contracting the disease is genuinely challenging. And it’s been felt in our primary care, as well as in our hospital services.

“As we move beyond the pandemic, I am very keen that we learn the positive lessons, the astonishing rate of change that the health service has managed to accommodate over the last 12 months, but of course, those are things that need to be done in consultation with local populations, and to make sure that patients are taken on that journey.”

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Health

New plan to keep Wales open and safe during “challenging” winter ahead

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The First Minister, Mark Drakeford, will today (Friday October 8) publish new plans to help keep Wales open and safe during the difficult autumn and winter months ahead.

The Welsh Government is publishing an updated Coronavirus Control Plan, which outlines the key actions, which could be put in place to control the spread of the virus.

Wales will remain at alert level zero for the next three weeks, following the latest review of the coronavirus regulations. This means all businesses are open and Wales has the lowest level of restrictions.

Speaking ahead of his press conference, First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

“We are facing a challenging winter ahead – coronavirus hasn’t gone away and flu is forecast to return this winter.

“Vaccination is the best defence we have against coronavirus – the more people who are fully vaccinated, the better our chances of controlling the spread of this awful virus.

“We will continue to focus our efforts on increasing take up of the Covid-19 vaccine across the age and priority groups and rolling out the booster vaccine too. We also encourage everyone who is eligible, to have their flu jab this year.

“There is also a range of other measures we can all take to help protect ourselves and our loved ones, such as washing our hands, reducing the number of people we meet and wearing a face covering in indoor public places.

“These measures have helped keep us safe throughout the pandemic and they will also help to protect us from other winter viruses, such as flu and other respiratory infections.”

The latest version of the Coronavirus Control Plan sets out two planning scenarios for the pandemic over the winter – in the first, called Covid Stable, Wales remains at alert level zero through the autumn and winter, with all businesses able to open.

This is thought to be the most likely scenario for the future, as we become used to living with coronavirus and we gradually move out of the pandemic to a position where the virus becomes a seasonal illness.

Under this scenario, if case rates fall, measures could be relaxed further in response, and if they rise, some existing measures could be strengthened to protect people’s health.

The second planning scenario, called Covid Urgent, is designed to deal with any sudden changes to the situation, caused by the emergence of a new, fast-spreading variant or if vaccine immunity levels fall, causing a rise in pandemic pressures, which risk overwhelming the NHS.

In such a scenario, the alert level system and restrictions would be used proportionately, but as a last-resort means, to protect people’s health, control the spread of infections and to protect the NHS.

Help keep Wales safe:

• Get your Covid-19 vaccines, including your booster when invited

• Get tested and self-isolate if you have symptoms

• Outdoors is safer than indoors

• Keep your distance when you can

• Wash your hands regularly

• Wear a face covering in indoor public places

• Keep indoor places well-ventilated

• Work from home whenever possible

• Use a Covid Pass in nightclubs and large events.

Commenting on the First Minister’s announcement Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said:

“Like the First Minister acknowledged, vaccinations have proven to be the key that unlocked society and the economy after severely weakening the link between infection and hospitalisation. To those who have yet to be vaccinated, we urge them to do so and those eligible to get a booster jab.

“However, while we remain at Level 0, new restrictions are coming in as the coercive, ineffective, and anti-business Covid passports will limit our freedoms, fail to limit the spread of coronavirus according to the Welsh Government’s own scientists, and add additional burdens on already stretched businesses.

“There has been a poor communication campaign from the Welsh Government on their introduction, little justification of their effectiveness, a failure to address confusion and fix bugs, and no explanation on how they will police the alternative Covid test system so open to abuse.

“We have passed the peak of infections without further restrictions and passports will do little to stem the problems that has led to the worst-ever A&E waiting times, longest ever NHS treatment backlog, and second slowest ambulance response times built up under Labour mismanagement.

“So instead of further restrictions, we need Labour ministers to bring forward a proper winter pressures plan that introduces the Covid treatment hubs for which Welsh Conservatives have long called for and reverse their damaging decision to bring in Covid passports.”

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Health

New Rapid Diagnosis Clinic open in Prince Philip Hospital

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The RDC team aims to see patients within one week of referral from their GP

PEOPLE who visit their GP with non-specific but concerning symptoms could be referred into a new clinic that aims to detect those who may have cancer.

A Rapid Diagnosis Clinic (RDC) was launched on October 6th at Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli, where patients from across Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion will be seen in this clinic.

The plan is to develop further RDCs at sites across the health board.

Patients attending the RDC will be seen by a Doctor and undergo further investigations of their symptoms. Patients will leave the clinic either with results and a likely diagnosis, a plan for further investigations or reassurance if the results are normal.

Dr Sion James, Deputy Medical Director for Primary Care and Community Services at Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “The RDC provides an opportunity to promptly review and investigate those patients in whom it can be challenging to make a diagnosis. Additionally, it will reassure patients quickly if their results showed no evidence of cancer.”

GPs will arrange for the patients to have blood tests prior to their attendance at the clinic. 

Patients will be contacted via telephone by the RDC staff and supported in preparing for the clinic.

Gina Beard, Lead Cancer Nurse at Hywel Dda UHB said: “The RDC is an exciting development that will be essential in improving cancer outcomes. Previously, when symptoms have been vague, patients may have experienced referral to several different services before receiving a diagnosis.

“The RDC will address this, delivering an efficient and person-centred diagnostic experience for patients who will be supported through this pathway by a Clinical Nurse Specialist.”

The RDC team aims to see patients within one week of referral from their GP.

The Chair of Hywel Dda UHB, Maria Battle said: “The past 18 months have been extremely challenging and have caused many problems in detecting early stage cancer in patients. It has caused a backlog in patients waiting to access care for cancer and in extreme circumstances has meant detecting late stage cancer in some.”

“In light of this, the Rapid Diagnosis Clinic will be a break-through in helping patients with non-specific symptoms get the attention and care that they need promptly and efficiently. As we move forward from the hardship that the pandemic has brought us all, it will greatly improve patient care and preservation of life in this patient group.” 

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Health

Roll-out of Covid vaccination for 12 to 15-year-olds gathers pace in Wales

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AS 12 to 15-YEAR-OLDS across Wales start to receive their Covid-19 vaccinations, the Health Minister today (Oct 4) confirmed they will all be offered a vaccine by the end of October half-term.

All 12 to 15-year-olds will be invited by letter to have the vaccine and the majority being administered at mass vaccination centres. In some areas, vaccination will be carried out at schools.

Some of the most vulnerable 12 to 15-year-olds in Wales have already started receiving the vaccine and all health boards will have started rolling out the programme in their areas this week.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “Vaccines remain our strongest defence from the virus, helping prevent harm and stopping the spread of Covid-19. Some studies have shown show one in seven children who have been infected with the virus are thought to have also developed long-Covid.

“We have provided resources and information to help this age group make an informed choice about vaccination. I encourage parents, guardians, children and young people to discuss the vaccination together.”

Dr Gill Richardson, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Vaccines, added: “We have seen the benefits that come from having as many people as possible vaccinated.

“After careful consideration of the evidence, the four UK chief medical officers recommended the vaccination of healthy 12 to 15-year-olds after consultation with experts, such as the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

“They concluded that the health benefits, combined with the additional benefits of reducing educational disruption and effects on mental health meant that vaccination should be offered.

“Children and their families will be receiving links to information with their invitation letters so they can make an informed decision about whether or not to have the vaccine.”

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