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Ambulance service criticised

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Ambulance serviceA FIRE SERVICE professional has criticised the Welsh Ambulance service after it took five hours for assistance to reach his disabled daughter.

Former fire service-worker Jo Mayne, 66, who now works as a fire officer on Valero oil refinery, told the Herald that his daughter Joanne suffered nerve damage following an operation and has limited mobility. She had recently married and moved to Ammanford.

Mr Mayne, a resident of Milford Haven, said that on Friday (May 22) morning, Joanne phoned him at 11.30, saying that she had suffered a fall. She couldn’t get up, and was bleeding from her leg. Her husband, who is also disabled, was at work.

After receiving the call, Mr Mayne phoned for an ambulance. He clearly stated that Joanne was disabled, was unable to get up, was alone in the house, and didn’t know anyone in the area who could physically help her.

He then phoned his daughter, and asked her to keep him informed about which hospital she was taken to.

However, at 1.30pm, his daughter phoned again. “She was in tears, saying the ambulance still hadn’t arrived,” he remembered.

Joanne’s 85-year-old father in law, who lives nearby, visited Joanne and did his best to make her comfortable. However, he was caring for his seriously ill wife, and was unable to stay.

After hearing this, Mr Mayne went to Milford Haven Fire Station, and asked if MAWWFS could offer any assistance. While he was in the fire station, an ambulance driver came in and told him that an ambulance had just been dispatched from Withybush.

He left Milford Haven with his wife, and arrived at his daughter’s house at the same time as the ambulance – around 4.20pm.

It transpired that the ambulance that had been sent was a St Johns ambulance. “They’re usually used for patient transfer,” Mr Mayne said. “I don’t know why they sent it out on something like this.”

A highly-trained first-aider, Mr Mayne then inspected the injury to his daughter’s leg, and splinted it using materials from the ambulance. She was also given pain relief by the ambulance crew.

At this point the ambulance crew told Mr Mayne that if he couldn’t get his daughter into a wheelchair and into the back of the ambulance, they would have to contact ambulance control and send out another ambulance, which could take 2-3 hours.

“I’m 66, I still work, and I still pay tax. I don’t mind paying more for a service, but that is not a service,” he said.

He then managed to get daughter into a wheelchair and into the ambulance. They arrived at Glangwili at 5.35pm. After treatment, they left the hospital at 12.45am.

Mr Mayne was keen to state that the treatment his daughter received was of high quality, and praised the effort of the St Johns team.

He has also written to Paul Davies AM and Stephen Crabb outlining his concerns, but has not yet received a reply.

“It was a nightmare,” he said. “I just want to try and make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

The Welsh Ambulance Service states that their target response time for non life-threatening calls is 30 minutes. We contacted the Ambulance Service asking the reasons for the five hour delay, and whether or not the response team sent out had the necessary equipment and training to deal with the situation outlined. At the time of going to press we had received no response.

However, a recent Freedom of Information Act request by Plaid Cymru, revealed that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of private ambulances used in Wales over the last two years.

The number of non-NHS ambulances used by the Welsh Ambulance Service rose from 1,248 in 2012-13 to 9,242 in 2014-15; an increase of more than 600%.

And the bill for using the ‘private providers’ jumped from just £172,000 to £2,086,000 over the same period. The number of taxis hired to take patients also rose from 682 in 2012- 13 to 868 in 2014-15 after a fall to 363 in 2013-14.

Elin Jones, Shadow Assembly Minister for Health, said: “I was shocked when I saw the extent of the increased use of private providers by the Trust. The dramatic rise in the use of private ambulances for emergency transport indicates a desperate need for a long term plan to meet demand in-house.

“The number of emergency calls has stayed fairly static in recent years and using private providers is short sighted. The Trust needs to think long-term.

“It may be proportionate to use the third sector such as St John’s in non-emergency hospital transfers but NHS ambulances are needed for emergency transport.”

Responding to Plaid Cymru on the use of private providers for emergency calls the Trust said: “More latterly, the Trust has made a conscious decision to support internal capacity with the use of private providers for responses to emergency calls. These do require ALS (advanced life support) skills and are, therefore, more expensive.”

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Paul Davies MS quits as Leader of the Conservatives in the Senedd

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PAUL DAIVES MS quit as Leader of the Conservatives in the Senedd this morning.

The Conservatives’ Chief Whip also quit his frontbench role.

The dramatic move comes only 24 hours after Mr Davies got the Conservative Senedd Group’s unanimous backing.

However, later yesterday (Friday, Jan 21) – as criticism poured in – the Welsh Conservatives’ Executive met. In that meeting, Constituency Chairs reported widespread disbelief and anger among the Party’s members. Conservative Party Chair, Lord Davies of Gower, received particular criticism for a lack of leadership. Simon Hart, Secretary of State for Wales, also attended the meeting and was left in no doubt of the strength of feeling within the Party.

In a statement issued via the Conservative Senedd media office, Mr Davies said: “I am truly sorry for my actions on the 8th and 9th December. They have damaged the trust and respect that I have built up over 14 years in the Welsh Parliament with my colleagues and the wider Conservative Party but more importantly with the people of Wales.
“Whilst using the Senedd facilities at all times my colleagues and I maintained social distancing. There was no drunk or disorderly behaviour. We did not have to be escorted out of the building as some reports have suggested. What we did was to have some alcohol with a meal we heated up in a microwave, which was a couple of glasses of wine on Tuesday and a beer on Wednesday.
I broke no actual Covid-19 regulations.

“For the last 10 months of the pandemic, I have followed the Covid-19 regulations to the letter. As with everyone across Wales, I have not seen family members or friends, I’ve not eaten at my favourite restaurants and, like you, we enjoyed a subdued Christmas compared to other years. I will continue to follow the Welsh Government’s Covid-19 Regulations and I would urge everyone to play their part in defeating this virus so that we can all return to normality.

“My priority as Leader of the Welsh Conservative Group in the Welsh Parliament has always been to bring the Conservatives into government in Wales. Our main focus as the Welsh Conservatives must always be on challenging and removing a failing Labour government.

“I am grateful for the support of colleagues in the Welsh Conservative Party for their support in this difficult time, and especially to my wife Julie and my Senedd colleagues who have offered empathy, trust and advice. They have treated me with the same courtesy and decency I hope I have always extended to others.

“Over the last couple of days, I have been speaking with colleagues in the Senedd and the wider Conservative Party. Whilst they have confirmed they do not wish to see me step down, I believe that my actions are becoming a distraction from holding this failing Welsh Labour-led Government to account, not just on their rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines but from more than 20 years of their dither, delay and failure. Yesterday I indicated to the Conservative group in the Welsh Parliament that I wished to resign, but they urged me to reflect further, and we agreed to meet again on Monday. However, for the sake of my party, my health and my own conscience, I simply cannot continue in post.

“Therefore, I am stepping down as Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Welsh Parliament with immediate effect.”

“It is for the group to decide how best to choose a new leader, but I hope that process will be seamless and speedy, and I pledge my support to whoever becomes leader.”

Darren Millar blamed ‘wildly inaccurate and unfair reports’ and said:

“There was a member of catering staff present in the tea room for a short time after my arrival on the 8th December but she did not serve me a drink, nor did I request one. In fact, I encouraged the member of staff to go home and close up the counter as it had been a long day for her. No members of catering staff were present on the 9th December and the counter was closed for the whole evening.

“While I am advised that I did not breach coronavirus regulations I am very sorry for my actions, especially given the impact of the tough restrictions that people and businesses are enduring.

“For this reason, and given that Paul Davies has resigned as Welsh Conservative Group Leader in the Senedd, I have decided to step down from my front bench role in the Welsh Parliament.

“I am cooperating fully with ongoing investigations and will continue to do so.”
Whoever replaces Paul Davies, the role is likely to an interim appointment ahead of a vote of the Party membership after the Senedd election.

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Conservatives in disarray over alleged Christmas party lockdown breach

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THE CONSERVATIVE Party is investigating the attendance of senior Senedd members and staff at a Christmas party held during December’s lockdown.

Lockdown restrictions prohibit mixing with people outside your own household.

The Welsh restrictions barring such gatherings follow the basic outline of those imposed by the Conservative UK Government in December.

Those attending the drinks party included Paul Smith, the Conservative Chief of Staff at the Senedd, Darren Millar, the Party’s Chief Whip and campaign coordinator, and Preseli Pembrokeshire MS and Conservative Senedd Group Leader Paul Davies.

The Herald understands that a Labour Senedd Member who attended the Party has been suspended by the Labour Senedd Group pending its own investigation.

The Conservatives’ embarrassment at talking the talk but not walking the walk is intensified by Darren Millar’s presence at the shindig.

In May, Mr Millar led calls for Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething to be sacked for eating a bag of chips in a park with one of his own children.

If the Conservative Party follows the logic of their previously stated positions, Mr Millar’s and Mr Davies’ futures look bleak indeed.

With a Senedd election only months away, the revelations have thrown the Conservatives into disarray.

If they do nothing, the Conservatives will – at the very least – face claims they are hypocrites.

If the Conservative Party acts decisively, it faces massive internal problems.

The Conservatives responded to our request for a response to our story.

Those involved stressed they did not host a Christmas Party.

The incident happened on December 8, when the above met in the members’ tea room to discuss legislation for possible inclusion in the Welsh Conservative manifesto with a Labour backbencher.

During the evening they did drink a glass or two of wine.

They stress that at no point were there more than four people in the room at any one time and that they maintained social distancing.

A joint statement from Paul Davies, Darren Millar, and Paul Smith said: “We are profoundly sorry for our actions.

“While we did not break the rules, we recognise that what was part of a day’s work would not be seen to be following the spirit of them, especially given the tough time the country has been going through.”

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Family tribute to Carole Patricia Fowler

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Carole was a teacher for 30 years at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Llanelli. She loved children and they loved her. 

As one of her past colleagues said: “I know she made such a difference to every child she taught.” She was very popular with staff and well respected and loved by parents. She was dedicated and conscientious, always 100% for the children. She led the music there and was always popular with her guitar accompaniments for services and concerts. 

Likewise, she was a valued member of the choir at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, Gendros, Swansea, where she would often accompany hymns with her guitar and gave guitar lessons to the children in the church’s Saturday Music Club. She was also a keen member of Côr Persain, Ammanford. 

She was talented, loved and in demand. A convicted and devout Catholic all her life, through good and bad.

Carole was an avid and very gifted crocheter and was always crocheting or knitting something for someone. She had been spending her time recently, during the Covid crisis, crocheting NHS teddies in scrubs and rainbows, with many given to practising nurses. Carole had recently started learning to make bobbin lace. She was also capable of some very decent sewing, too. 

She was also learning Welsh, doing ‘pilates’ and was considering taking up yoga lessons as well.

She was a busy lady! As one of her work colleagues said of her: “She was wise, strong, beautiful, generous, devout and feisty. And I loved her for all those qualities.”

Above all, she was an immeasurably loved Mam, daughter, sister and a doting Mamgu and so much loved by her fiancé. Having been together for 14 years, they would have been married last July 20th had covid allowed! 

Her premature passing at 61 is tragic and she is already sorely, painfully missed. She leaves behind a huge chasm in so many hearts that cannot be filled.

“Eternal rest grant unto her, o Lord, may perpetual light shine about her, may she rest in peace.”

If anyone witnessed the collision or may have been travelling on the M4 at the relevant time, please contact the Serious Collision Unit quoting police reference DPP-20210113-317

Police can be contacted either online at: bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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