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Andrew Street Surgery saga ends

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Retired: Dr Pradobh Devichand

Retired: Dr Pradobh Devichand

Nia Griffith told us: “It is imperative that the health board get this sorted out immediately so that patients have a doctor when they call in or turn up ill at the surgery. It was quite clear in the autumn that Dr Devichand was anxious to go as soon as possible. It was very concerning to hear that new arrangements may not be in place until the 1st of August. This is a problem that we want to avoid. Seeing a doctor at the surgery is a key facility when people are ill.”

The Herald met with Labour’s Llanelli AM Candidate Lee Waters and Minister for Health and Social Services Mark Drakeford AM later that morning.

BOARD NEEDS TO ACT

Speaking about the absence of a doctor at the surgery that morning Lee Waters said, “This is something the Health Board needs to sort out. This has been bubbling along for months. They knew the changes were coming. The Health Board have a responsibility to provide a doctor at Andrew Street.

“The situation this morning was alarming. From what I understand they had security present and not doctors. They had the foresight to provide a security guard so they should have had the foresight to supply a doctor. We are putting pressure on them to make sure the patients at Andrew Street have a proper service as soon as possible.”

The Herald asked Mark Drakeford AM what could be done to avoid a similar situation happening again. He said, “Changes in GP services are inevitable in Wales and they are happening in parts of Wales already. We have to strengthen the other members of the primary care team, who can do more to free up GP’s to do the things only a GP can do.

“In the future the relationship a patient will have will be with the whole of the practice and so you have got examples in Wales and in Hywel Dda as well as having a GP in the surgery you have an advanced practice nurse, an advanced practice physiotherapist, a pharmacist who could see lots of the people a doctor would have had to previously see, paramedics working as part of the team; and then doctors, who are the scarcest and most skilled people we have in the system, don’t spend their time seeing people who could be equally, sensibly and properly looked after by somebody else.

“The situation in Andrew Street today is one the Health Board needs to get a grip of. Things did move over the weekend in terms of securing the lease of the premises. There is a plan there to make that service secure for the future. Now we need to make sure that it is delivered and delivered quickly.”

Hywel Dda University Health Board issued a statement following The Herald’s report on Monday morning.

RETIREMENT WAS ‘SHORT NOTICE’

The Board said: ‘Temporary changes to the way some patients are seen at Llanelli’s Andrews Medical Practice have been put in place today, following the short-notice retirement of locum GP Dr Prabodh Devichand on Friday.

‘Patients at the practice will still be seen by doctors and the practice nurse as usual, but clinics will be organised in a different way for a short period of time. The practice nurse will see and triage (assess) patients throughout the morning as usual, and a travelling GP from Rosedale Medical Group will be present at the practice to sign prescriptions, deal with urgent queries and run an afternoon surgery. No patients will be dispersed to other practices.

‘Patients are asked to phone the surgery if they need an appointment, rather than turn up on the day as they would have done; many patients will be able to be treated by other healthcare professionals, but for a short period of time those who need to see a doctor will either be allocated an afternoon clinic slot, or in some instances will need to see the nurse and doctor. Rosedale Medical Group are also finalising plans to put longer-term GP cover in place to provide continuity for patients.

The statement concluded: ‘Patients can also play their part by Choosing Well and ensuring that they find the right service for their individual need, from services that support self-care in the home, to grass-root community support groups, community pharmacies, optometrists and dental services.’

APOLOGY TO PATIENTS

Kathryn Davies, Executive Director of Commissioning, Therapies and Health Science at Hywel Dda, said: “We’d like to reassure patients attending Andrews Medical Practice that they will continue to receive the treatment they require, and that the Practice is working through this temporary change.

“We apologise for any inconvenience to patients caused by this situation due to the short-notice change, and assure patients that every effort is being made to find replacement GPs.”

A spokesperson for Rosedale Medical Group added: “We are working closely with the local health board to provide continuity of GP services at Andrews Medical Practice, following the unexpected departure of Dr. Devichand at very short notice.

“There are temporary measures in place, while we consolidate a suitable long-term plan. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

By the afternoon, The Herald was contacted by Nia Griffith MP who told us: “I have now had reassurances from the Health Board that there will be a doctor at Dr Devichand’s surgery this afternoon.”

For the Board, Kathryn Davies said: “The Health Board and Rosedale Medical Group can confirm that, from [Tuesday, February 2], the Andrews Medical Practice in Llanelli will return to delivering a full GMS service with a full workforce.

“Following the short-notice retirement of Dr Devichand on Friday, a Rosedale GP partner from Neath Port Talbot has now been appointed to work at the practice all day, every day, on an ongoing basis.

“The practice will adopt a new triage system, which will involve all patients phoning in and a doctor then ringing them back to either book them in for an appointment, deal with the problem on the phone, or signpost patients to other healthcare professionals. Details of this system will be fully communicated to the public by the practice.

“It is important to note that patients will always be given a GP appointment if they want to see a GP specifically, and those patients that are invited in will be offered a time slot that is convenient to them.”

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£121k watersports funding announced for Llanelli beauty spot

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• Welsh Water, Natural Resources Wales, Llanelli Rural Council & Canoe Wales has secured ‘Access to Water’ funding.

• Visitors will be able to enjoy paddlesports (canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding), windsurfing and angling.

• Site expected to attract 90k+ visitors a year.

The recent announcement of the development of the Swiss Valley reservoirs in Carmarthenshire has been given a boost with the confirmation of an ‘Access to Water’ grant from Welsh Government, worth £121k, that will enable visitor access to the Lower Lleidi reservoir for paddle sports and angling.

The funding will realise plans to bring back a range of paddlesports to the reservoir, including stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing and kayaking.  It will also enable bank angling through the creation of recreational zones.  A range of improvements to the surrounding infrastructure are also planned to include a boat wash for biosecurity and the creation of paths and a pontoon that allows easy access to water for people of all abilities, and the refurbishment of toilet facilities.

Developing the Swiss Valley Reservoirs is expected to attract 90k+ visitors a year to the site, in line with Covid19 regulations. The ‘Access to Water’ funding is an important milestone in achieving shared ambitions for the site, and to support the funding application, a survey of local canoe clubs, outdoor activity providers and anglers was conducted which found a strong demand for access to the water for their activities. The feedback was that this is likely to generate a huge amount of interest from clubs and providers given it’s ideal geographical location. The community adoption scheme means that local people are offering to invest their own time to help look after this jewel of a community asset, and care for it into the future.

The project is well placed to support the delivery of The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015, which requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change. Whilst Welsh Water is not a public body, it is committed to working in partnership with Llanelli Rural Council, Natural Resources Wales and Canoe Wales in the spirit of the legislation.

Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said: “This is an excellent example of a scheme which increases opportunities for outdoor recreation and provides safe access to water for people of all abilities.  The development of these reservoirs will enable local people and visitors to gain more enjoyment from this beauty spot in line with covid19 guidelines and help to support a green recovery in Wales.  I hope the success of this project will encourage development of many more similar opportunities over the coming years.”

Welsh Water Chief Executive Peter Perry said, “Access to blue space is proven to be positively associated with health and wellbeing. Swiss Valley is an important asset for the local community and visitors alike. This funding is a major milestone in our efforts to bring this cherished community asset back to its former glory and make it more accessible, for the health and wellbeing of everyone.”

Jen Browning, Chief Executive of Canoe Wales, the national governing body for paddlesport in Wales, added, “Over the past eight months, we have seen an unprecedented amount of demand for canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, but the limited number of venues in Wales suitable for new paddlers has always been a major obstacle. This funding will ensure that Swiss Valley can play an enormously important role in making it possible for people of all abilities to enjoy the water, and for many to discover a passion for paddlesport and develop a deep connection with the outdoors.”

Dave MacCallum, Specialist Advisor for Water Access & Recreation at Natural Resources Wales and Chairman of NAFW Access to Water Sub-Group said: “We are delighted to have been a part of this important collaboration which will open up these new waters for responsible, inclusive recreation in South West Wales. NRW is committed to doing all we can to enable more people to enjoy Wales’ countryside more easily and responsibly – to take advantage of the many health and wellbeing benefits that getting outside can bring. Benefitting from bespoke disabled paddle-sport access facilities and a Biosecurity station promoting and enabling the Check Clean Dry initiative, the Swiss Valley reservoir project paves the way for future access to Welsh still waters so that current and future generations can continue to enjoy their visits to some of Wales’ most spectacular landscapes”

Llanelli Rural Council Leader, Cllr Tegwen Devichand said “the funding is marvellous news for the community and will enable the council to develop its plans for the reservoir in earnest. Much of the preliminary work associated with the first phase of infrastructure improvements can now get underway, in fact some work has commenced already. The physical adaptations to refurbish the toilet block, visitor car park and access to the water to facilitate paddle sports and the angling fraternity is scheduled to be completed by March 2021, but work won’t stop there. Moreover, the community response to our plans for the reservoir has been overwhelming; the council has received a great deal of local and regional support and a number of interest groups and individuals have come forward to help us deliver our plans as well as to offer their services. This is greatly appreciated and bodes well for the future.”

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Llanelli Yodel colleague celebrates 30-year anniversary

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Beverley Smith, a valued member of the Llanelli depot’s team, is celebrating her 30-year anniversary with UK independent parcel carrier, Yodel.

Beverley joined Yodel in 1990, when it was originally known as Home Shopping Network, as an Inbound Sorter and then moved onto a Customer Service Support role over 28 years ago. Beverly supports the Llanelli Management Team, provides customer service to clients and customers alike and is always on hand to answer any driver queries.

To celebrate her anniversary, Kay Dodd, Service Centre Manager, presented Beverley with £750 of Very vouchers and ordered in a cooked breakfast to celebrate.

Customer Service Support Advisor, Beverley Smith commented: “My time with Yodel has been very fulfilling – constantly challenging – keeping me on my toes. I’ve been with the company so long that I remember having to write with a pen and paper and have to fax documents to the head office daily – I can’t say I miss those days!

“I have made many close friends during the 30 years at the business and I truly have enjoyed the hard working and happy atmosphere at Llanelli every day.”

Kay Dodd, Depot Manager, added: “Bev is a valued member of my team here at Llanelli, she provides excellent customer service to customers, clients and colleagues. She has a courteous and caring attitude and goes beyond her duties to ensure everyone has a positive experience at Yodel Llanelli. Thank you for everything Bev!”

To join Beverley and the team at Yodel’s Llanelli depot, or to find out more about working for Yodel, and the roles and training available, visit www.yodelopportunities.co.uk or text ‘Deliver’ to 84433. 

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Preparatory works to start at key Stepney Street Building

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Preparatory works are due to start on a key building in Llanelli Town Centre ahead of formal planning approval.

Number 49 Stepney Street is being redeveloped as part of a significant investment in the town centre to transform, regenerate and connect its key retails and leisure areas.

Carmarthenshire County Council has submitted plans which could see the former YMCA building retain much of its character whilst providing high quality living space and commercial units

The works would include the restoration of the front façade of the building, along with the retention of the perimeter wall, main internal structural walls and bringing back many original features such as the ornate staircase.

Subject to planning approval the rest of the building would be redeveloped to include two floors of commercial space on the ground and first floors, with eight two-bedroomed living spaces on the upper floors.

There will also be residents parking spaces on the ground floor.

The works currently underway will prepare the building for redevelopment and include stripping and clearance of old materials.

Carmarthenshire County Council leader Cllr Emlyn Dole said: “Many generations of people from Llanelli will have special memories of using this fantastic building over the years and it is such a shame to see it lay empty and falling into disrepair – we’re proud to be leading on this scheme to breathe new life into it once again.”

The council has already spent £4.5million buying empty shop units from private ownership, renovating and bringing them back in to use at affordable rental levels – all of them currently occupied by independent businesses

A Local Development Order has been put in place to simplify the planning process for property owners and potential investors

This project is being procured via the South West Wales Regional Contractors Framework. Carmarthenshire County Council has appointed a regional contractor who will develop the project alongside local supply chains.

For further information on this framework, email TSSWWRCF@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

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