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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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Llanelli lockdown looms

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PUBLIC HEALTH WALES have confirmed that Wales’ first town-only lockdown could happen after experts express concern at a spike in the level of positive Coronavirus cases in and around Llanelli.
Dr. Quentin Sandifer, Public Health Wales’ Medical Director confirmed that a ‘high level of concern’ exists at a virtual meeting of the Senedd’s Health, Social Care and Sports Committee this morning (Wednesday, Sept 23).
Dr. Sandifer was questioned by Assembly Member David Rees who asked: “How small an area could you go down to if you wanted local restrictions?”
The Public Health Wales representative replied by stating: “Looking at the position in Carmarthenshire, we do see quite a variation within that county area, with the highest figures of concern in the Llanelli area.
“That is where we are paying particular attention within Carmarthenshire. So we are able to go down to a sub-county, local level in terms of our considerations, and that is what we are actively doing.”
Dr. Sandifer went on to say that local lockdowns imposed early elsewhere, like Caerphilly, are “beginning to demonstrate some effect on infection rates.”
With the threat of a local lockdown hanging over Llanelli, a mobile testing unit has been set up at Parc-Y-Scarlets today and if you require a test, you can e-mail covidenquiries.hdd@wales.nhs.uk or call 0300 333 2222.

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Gemma runs 50 miles for air medics who attended her Dad

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A GRATEFUL Ammanford mum has raised £350 by running 50 miles for the Wales Air Ambulance after the Charity’s medics tried to save her dad’s life last year.

The air medics were first on the scene after Gemma Pritchard’s dad Gerry, suffered a major heart attack in February 2019. He sadly passed away in intensive care two days later.

Speaking of the care her dad received, the mum-of-one said: “The service they provided was out of this world. Every member of the crew kept us updated every chance they could. They worked tirelessly to save my dad and despite all efforts from the crew he sadly passed away a few days later. I will forever owe them my life for all the efforts that evening.

“Losing our dad was so hard after already losing my mother in 2011. We had to go through all the heartache of losing another parent.” 

Gemma, 30, who works in Jenkins Bakery and as a cleaner, completed the 50-mile challenge in 13 days. Running wasn’t something that came naturally to Gemma before the fundraiser. She was supported by her husband Owain and daughter Lillie-May, 5, to complete the challenge.

Owain did the last run with Gemma, which was 10 miles. She added: “I couldn’t run 10 seconds before the challenge he pushed me massively to achieve my goal.

“My first run I managed 3 miles then I upped it to 5 miles, then 6 and then I went straight in for the 10 miles. My poor feet still feel it now. I knew this would be a massive challenge to myself.”

This is Gemma’s first fundraiser and she is already thinking of different ways she can raise funds for the charity in future.

She said: “I’m overwhelmed at the funds I did raise, although I would’ve loved to raise a lot. I’m still very happy with what I have raised for my first of many fundraisers for such an amazing crew.

“I’d like to thank everyone who donated.  I’m so proud of completing my challenge.”

Mark Stevens, Wales Air Ambulance Fundraising Manager, said: “We are extremely grateful for the support Gemma has shown our charity. It is incredible to hear that despite Gemma’s loss she still wanted to show her support to our medics. It’s inspirational to hear that she picked a 50-mile fundraiser even though she couldn’t previously run before the challenge.

“Thank you to Gemma and everyone who has supported her. We’re delighted to hear that Gemma hopes to raise more funds in the future for our Charity.”

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The latest increase in coronavirus in Wales is ‘sobering’ says First Minister

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THE FIRST MINISTER, Mark Drakeford has criticised the lack of communication with the UK government as he gave a briefing on what he described as the “sobering” increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalisation in Wales.

The infection rate in Wales has risen to 23.6 infections for every 100k people as cases have spiked in areas including Merthyr, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Caerphilly and Newport.

Hospitalisations remain low but are rising, with five people currently in intensive care with Covid-19 and and 53 Covid patients on all hospital wards, according to the latest data from Public Health Wales from Sunday, September 13.

Mr Drakeford said that the number of people in hospital with coronavirus had risen to 41 with four people in intensive care.

He also said that the R number in Wales was almost certainly now above one – meaning the virus is spreading exponentially again. The latest estimate, he said, was between 0.7 and 1.2.

Mr Drakeford said: “In this most difficult week, there has been no meeting offered to First Ministers of any sort. Since the 28 May, there has been just one brief telephone call from the Prime Minister.

“This is simply unacceptable to anyone who believes that we ought to be facing the coronavirus crisis together.

“We need a regular, reliable, rhythm of engagement: a reliable meeting even once a week would be a start. I make this argument not because we should all do the same things, but because being round the same table allows each of us to make the best decisions for the nations we represent.

“There is a vacancy at the heart of the United Kingdom, and it needs urgently to be filled, so we can talk to each other, share information, pool ideas and demonstrate a determination that the whole of the country can face these challenges together at this most difficult time.”

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