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Campaign to save GP surgery

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Nia Griffith MP and Dr. Devichand: With patients at the Andrew Street surgery

Nia Griffith MP and Dr. Devichand: With patients at the Andrew Street
surgery

LLANELLI MP Nia Griffith is backing a petition to make a doctor’s surgery in Llanelli a managed surgery.

Suzy Curry, a patient at the Andrew Street surgery, started the petition, which reads: ‘We the undersigned, (many of whom are patients of Dr Devichand) call on the Hywel Dda University Health Board to take over the running of Dr Devichand’s surgery as a managed practice, to ensure the continuity of care of his patients’.

Dr. Devichand is due to retire in September of this year and he has given notice to that effect to the Hywel Dda University Health Board. As a result the board have decided to launch a public consultation in order to decide the fate of up to 3,000 of Dr. Devichand’s patients and a large number of staff employed at the Andrew Street and Dafen surgery as well as at the Dafen pharmacy. At present there are a number of managed doctor’s surgeries around Carmarthenshire.

Dr. Devichand told the Herald: “I am 71 in September and so I told the health board I was going to retire. I have given three months’ notice. After they got that notice they told me that they would let me know what they were going to do with the practice.”

Dr Devichand continued: “The local medical committee and community health council are supportive of the practice being managed. They can put in a salaried doctor; it isn’t a new thing it is being done all the time. The vacant practice panel makes the final decision and they have asked to advertise to see if someone wants to take over the practice, which is a long shot. They have also asked for a public consultation.”

Pointing out the difficulty of locating appropriate GP services, Dr Devichand said: “There are 35 or more GP’s and they could go to them but they do not wish to take on the practice list. It is a big uncertainty for some seriously ill patients, some with cancer and mental health problems. They may find themselves without adequate provision.”

With his retirement not long away, Dr Devichand looked forward to the potential for healthcare issues later in the year: “In October we start doing immunisation for flu. I have to order these in advance but I have had to negotiate and delay the orders. The flu clinics and the nurses also have to be booked. Employment wise I have 11 staff members. If it is managed they will continue otherwise they may have to seek other employment. I have a surgery in Dafen and it also supports a pharmacy. It has been proposed that the health board makes this a managed surgery and employs a salaried G.P., which they could do in newer premises.”

Marjorie Roberts, one of Dr Devichand’s patients, said: “It is terrible. My argument is that this surgery works perfectly. It is a system I remember as a child. You can walk in and see a doctor without an appointment. Dr. Devichand gives us time. If it is not broken don’t fix it. My husband couldn’t come today because he is unwell. Where would we go if this were closed?”

Another patient, Brenda Edmunds, told The Herald: “I am very sad because we have a marvellous surgery here. Dr. Devichand saved my life he is a wonderful doctor. I can’t understand the delay in making this a managed surgery. I am an ex nurse and I think they just want to bring in a new system.”

Speaking to The Herald about the campaign to retain the surgery’s services, Nia Griffth MP said: “The GP service is the front line of the health service. We know Dr. Devichand cannot go on forever and it is high time the health board gets the plans in place so that in September there will be a proper managed service. You know that other services are crowded out and we need prompt action to ensure they put in G.P.s to look after everyone here and at the Dafen surgery.”

She concluded by praising Dr Devichand’s commitment to his practice: “We know that what Dr. Devichand does here is equivalent to the work of two doctors and we will be looking for at least that amount from the health board. We very much hope we will get an answer soon so that people can get the reassurance and not be worrying what’s going to happen come September.”

We asked the Local Health Board to comments and were provided with the following statement:

‘Dr Prabodh Devichand, a well-regarded and supported GP who has worked for over 30 years in Llanelli, will retire from the Andrew Street practice on September 30.

Hywel Dda University Health Board (UHB) will now seek to identify whether there is another group of GPs who would like to take on the Practice. This opportunity is currently being advertised.

In the interest of openness and clarity with patients, the Health Board is sharing that should no interest in taking on the practice be received, it may be an option that patients are registered with one of the other practices close to where they live. However, no decisions have been made and this will depend on whether a new provider is found, the outcome of patient feedback and our ongoing discussions with other practices. Hywel Dda UHB will provide regular updates to keep patients and stakeholders informed’.

Elaine Lorton, Assistant Director of Primary Care for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “First, I would like to thank Dr Devichand. The Health Board recognises how difficult a decision it was for Dr Devichand to retire after so many years of service to the community and appreciates the support many patients have already given him. We wish him every happiness for the future and we’d like to reassure Andrew Street patients that Hywel Dda UHB is working hard to make sure that the transition from one GP to a new service is completed smoothly. Following this news, we are in the process of writing to patients registered at the Andrew Street practice to keep them informed. We would like to hear from them regarding what matters most and any concerns they may have. The letter will include a questionnaire which we are asking all patients to please take the opportunity to complete and return to the freepost address provided by July 31.”

Hywel Dda UHB understands how important it is that it hears what Andrew Street patients have to say as the final decision has not yet been made. In addition to the questionnaire, Hywel Dda UHB will hold a drop in session at the Selwyn Samuel Centre between 12-2pm on Wednesday July 22 if anyone would like to come and speak to us about this change, ask any questions you may have or to let Hywel Dda UHB know your views.

If Andrew Street patients have any queries they are asked to contact Ceinwen Richards, Senior Primary Care Locality Development Manager on 07805 799658 or Hywel Dda UHB’s Patient Support Services on 0300 0200 159.

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Llanelli choir in fine voice with £6,677 fundraiser for lifesaving charity

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A SUCCESSFUL Llanelli choir has presented the Wales Air Ambulance with a cheque of £6,677 after nominating them for their charity of the year.

Côr Curiad Choir are no strangers to raising funds for charity – since their musical director Alex Esney took over in 1996/97 the ladies have raised over £105,000 for charity. Some of the good causes that have benefitted from the kind fundraising events include Teenage Cancer Trust, Marie Curie, Ty Bryngwyn Hospice, and the breast cancer unit at Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli.

The choir, which consists of 46 females and a solitary male – accompanist Craig Oldham and musical director Alex, welcomes people of all ages. The youngest member is in her twenties and the eldest is 91. This includes mothers, daughters and sisters who all sing for Côr Curiad. They even have members who live outside of Wales.

Spokesperson for the choir Pat Hogson, said: “Now that Covid rules have started to relax a little we have been able to return to more outdoor events, but it will be so good to get back to the ‘new’ normal and do what we love most – to sing and entertain people and to start to raise money for charity again.

“We are able to do as much as we do for charity with the wonderful support of our families and friends and a solid group of supporters who come along to all our events.”

The choir’s music has been described by Pat ‘as varied as their age range’, they sing traditional Welsh and English pieces to Bohemian Rhapsody and songs from Disney, Lord of the Rings, Snow Patrol, Abba and Adele.

Wales Air Ambulance offers advanced critical care and is often described as a ‘Flying ED’.

Wales Air Ambulance’s Jane Griffiths with members of Côr Curiad choir

The on-board consultants and critical care practitioners are highly skilled and carry some of the most pioneering medical equipment in the world. They can deliver blood transfusions, administer anaesthesia and undertake emergency operations at the scene of the incident, before flying the patient directly to specialist care.

Now operational 24/7, the Charity needs to raise £8 million every year to keep the helicopters flying.

Last year saw the ladies held their first-ever virtual Christmas concert, which was a huge success in aid of the Wales Air Ambulance.

Katie Macro, Campaigns Manager for the Wales Air Ambulance, said: “Thank you to everyone at Côr Curiad Choir who despite the challenges that Covid presented to them, they found ways to raise funds for our lifesaving charity. Your support is much appreciated, and every donation is vital and goes towards keeping our helicopters in the air – for the people of Wales, when they need us most. Thank you to the choir’s supporter, friends and family who continue to support and enjoy their charity events.”

There are several ways that the public can continue to support the Wales Air Ambulance.

These include online donations, signing up to the Charity’s Lifesaving Lottery or by coming up with their own innovative ways to fundraise at home. Further information can be found via www.walesairambulance.com. 

Alternatively, a £5 text-message donation can be made by texting the word HELI to 70711.

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Four UK forces are piloting a new service to report sexual assault online

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THE NEW online Rape and Sexual Assault reporting service is now live on the websites of British Transport Police, Merseyside Police, Dyfed Powys Police and Leicestershire Police.

It was created by the National Police Chief’s Council’s (NPCC) Digital Public Contact Programme (DPC) and launched on Tuesday 30 November.

The pilot will run for six weeks.

People wishing to report sexual offences have until now been directed to phone police forces, text 61016 in the case of British Transport Police, or dial 999 in an emergency.

If they do not require immediate police assistance, people – regardless of age or if they want to report the crime – will be directed online via their local force website.

They will find advice and details of charities and other organisations that can help. The forces will ask, if the person is willing, for details of what has happened. There is an option to report the offence anonymously. If reported anonymously, the police will only contact that person if there is believed to be an immediate threat to their life.

Det Ch Insp Sarah White from British Transport Police said: “We know from extensive research that there are a number of reasons why survivors and witnesses are not comfortable in reporting sexual offences to the police.

“One of the common factors remains the unwillingness to provide personal details. We understand this and have been working to look at how we can invite greater reporting, which can help us prevent further crimes and bring offenders to justice.

“Every report provides us with valuable information. And if people aren’t comfortable with making that report, then we want them to know how they can get the support and help they need.

“This new service in not only innovative in the way it has been designed – from the ground up in consultation with more than 40 organisations (including Rape Crisis, End Violence Against Women and the Survivors Trust) – but also in the way it is being deployed – online where people, especially younger people, increasingly are.”

When visiting the websites of those forces, options are available to report a sexual offence themselves, on behalf on another person, or as a witness. People can choose to report in English or Welsh.

If the pilot is successful, it will become a permanent reporting feature and will be available for other forces to adopt nationally.

Det Ch Insp White added: “We’re absolutely committed to ensuring our railways are a safe place for people to travel and we hope this is just another tool in our armoury against sexual offending.”

British Transport Police has also been accredited by White Ribbon, committed to ending violence against woman and girls. It recently signed a pledge encouraging all men within the organisation to make a promise to never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.

Detective Superintendent Jayne Butler, Dyfed-Powys Police, said: “As a White Ribbon accredited organisation, committed to ending violence against woman and girls, protecting vulnerable people is a priority for Dyfed-Powys Police and we know how traumatic being the victim of a sexual offence is.

“We encourage victims to come forward to report incidents of this nature so we can thoroughly investigate the crimes whilst ensuring that all victims have the opportunity to be referred for specialist support. The ability to report a sexual offence online will provide another avenue for victims to come forward so we can help them and bring offenders to justice.” 

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New videos launched to support care for children and young patients

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Hywel Dda - Children's services

PARENTS, carers of children and young people are being reminded that they can still access 24/7 minor injury care for children at Withybush General Hospital, or during daytime hours at Tenby Walk-in Centre and Cardigan Integrated Care Centre.

Hywel Dda University Health Board has created a series of new information videos explaining the types of care that we are currently able to provide for children and younger patients following the temporary move of the Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit (PACU) at Withybush.

Minor injury units can treat adults and children over 12-months of age, with minor injuries such as the following:

Minor wounds
Minor burns or scalds
Insect bites
Minor limb, head, or face injuries
Foreign bodies in the nose or ear

Minor injury units are run by an experienced team of highly skilled specially-trained emergency nurse practitioners, triage nurses and health care support workers. Some are located on main hospital sites, which have emergency departments as well, and others are in community-based health care centres.

Bethan Thomas, an Emergency Nurse Practitioner in the Minor Injuries Unit at Withybush General Hospital, said: “Part of my role frequently involves treating children and young people with minor injuries, and we can do this quite quickly in the emergency department at Withybush so that those patients can return home having been seen and given care.”

Children with serious illnesses or injuries will be seen at Glangwili General Hospital in Carmarthen or Bronglais General Hospital in Aberystwyth. In an emergency, please dial 999.

In the videos, which are available to view on the Health Board’s website, and on social media, Consultant Paediatrician Dr Didi Ratnasinghe also explains what parents need to be aware of and how to access care if their child has a respiratory illness, while fellow Paediatrician Dr Prem Kumar gives an insight into what to expect if your child needs to stay in hospital for treatment.

Emergency medicine Consultant Dr Nicola Drake provides an explanation of other childhood medical emergencies, and when parents need to call 999 for an ambulance to take a child to Glangwili or Bronglais.

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