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Ambulance service criticised

Thomas Sinclair

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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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Four charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs

Carli Newell

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FOUR people have been arrested and charged as part of an investigation into an organised crime gang supplying class A drugs from London to Aberystwyth, Llanelli and Swansea.

Dyfed-Powys Police, with support from The Met Police, carried out warrants at four addresses on July 21, resulting in four arrests.

Mohammed Osman, aged 23, Yonis Mohammed, aged 20, Salman Mohamoud, aged 23 – all from Islington – and Amy Simmons, aged 21, from Dulwich were charged with a total of 12 offences:

  • Mohammed Osman: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine,
  • Yonis Mohammed: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.
  • Salman Mohamoud: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine
  • Amy Simmons: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.

All four appeared at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Friday, July 23, where they were remanded in custody. They are due to appear at Swansea Crown Court for their next hearing on August 20.

The investigation is being carried out by the Ceredigion Serious and Organised Crime Team, Aberystwyth CID and the Operation Orochi command of the Met Police.

Detective Sergeant Steve Jones said: “These four arrests and charges are the result of a coordinated approach to target an organised crime gang we believe is running a county lines operation into the Dyfed-Powys Police force area.

“We will continue to work diligently to disrupt gangs of this kind, to prevent the supply of illegal substances into our community.

“I would like to thank all officers involved, as well as the Met Police for their part in the operation.”

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New children’s play area in Bryn as part of new council housing development

Carli Newell

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A NEW children’s play area has opened in time for the summer holidays in Bryn, Llanelli as part of a new £5.9million council housing development.

Carmarthenshire County Council is building 32 new homes on land close to the Dylan housing estate in Bryn.

The scheme will be made up of 22 two-bedroom homes, four two-bedroom bungalows and six four-bedroom homes and is part of the council’s ongoing drive to deliver more affordable homes across the county. It has been part funded through the Welsh Government’s Affordable Housing Grant.

The development also includes a new children’s play area, funded by the council in partnership with Llanelli Rural Council, which will take over the running and maintenance of the play area on completion.

Executive Board Member for Housing Cllr Linda Evans said: “I am delighted the park has been completed in time for the summer holidays for the local children to enjoy.

“We are committed to delivering more affordable housing across Carmarthenshire and this development will benefit dozens of families in Llanelli, as well as proving much needed facilities for the local community.

“I would like to thank the rural council for collaborating with this us on this and I hope the children are thrilled with it.”

Before designing the play area, the rural council liaised with local schoolchildren to find out what play equipment they wanted at their new park.

Llanelli Rural Council Chairman Cllr Tegwen Devichand said: “The council is delighted to be working in partnership with Carmarthenshire County Council to provide this wonderful new play area for the community.

“The opening of the play area couldn’t have been better timed to coincide with the school holidays. I hope the local children will enjoy the range of challenging play equipment on offer and that they have lots of fun using it over the summer.”

The housing development is due to be completed by the beginning of 2022.

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Burry Port Harbour lighthouse overhaul tops council’s £2million investment

Carli Newell

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A £2MILLION investment in Burry Port Harbour is nearing completion, topped off with the iconic lighthouse getting a fresh lick of paint.

Carmarthenshire County Council is behind a range of improvements to maintain and restore the historic harbour which is one of the county’s most loved and well visited beauty spots.

Restoration of the Grade II listed harbour walls, undertaken under the guidance of CADW, will conclude within the next few weeks.

The council has also been working alongside The Marine Group, which operates the harbour, to improve mooring facilities. They are working closely with fishermen to bid for funding for new commercial pontoon infrastructure.

It will add to investment made over previous years which saw the council spend almost £1.5million on new pontoons, and over £300,000 in maintaining the harbour railings and bridge.

A local operator has agreed a lease for a cafe and public toilets on east side of Harbour, and the refurbishment of the old RNLI harbour office has recently started by The Marine Group (TMG) to create a harbour-side coffee house.

TMG has also invested in a state-of-the-art dredger which arrived at the harbour last autumn. Dredging is well underway and will continue until targeted depths are reached.

Boat lifting equipment and new fuelling points are also planned.

The council has introduced community safety officers to patrol the harbour assisting tourists and local people during the summer months, especially to advise around Covid regulations, as part of a tourism hotspot plan to take care of issues such as parking, litter, street cleansing, enforcement and signage.

Temporary car parking surfacing has also been laid on the east side along with new pay and display facilities ahead of a wider multi-million regeneration plan that will transform the harbour with a mix of housing, commercial and leisure space covering around 13 acres of prime development site.

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “We are proud of our continued investment in Burry Port Harbour. We are spending millions restoring and maintaining historic features that are much-loved by local people and visitors who come from far and wide to enjoy what the harbour has to offer.

“We continue to work closely alongside The Marine Group and Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council to plan and prioritise works and ongoing maintenance. We are as keen as everyone else to ensure it is well-maintained and continues to be a place people can enjoy.

“We appreciate that there has been some upheaval during these improvement works but we ask people to understand that our investment will make Burry Port Harbour an even better place for the future.”

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