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Opt-out organ donation scheme has ‘transformed lives’ says health minister

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“Lives have been transformed by the introduction of a soft opt-out system of consent for organ donation in Wales and we should be proud of what we have achieved” – Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething said on the fifth anniversary of the scheme’s introduction.

Five years ago today Wales led the way in the UK by introducing a soft opt-out system of organ donation, where presumed consent was given for organ donation unless the person had opted out.

The system has been so successful that England have now introduced an opt-out system, Scotland will next year and Northern Ireland will be consulting on a similar change.

Since the scheme was introduced in Wales the number of people opting into the Organ Donor Register has risen 4% from 1,138,527 in 2016/17 to 1,300,494 in the first two quarters of 2020/21.

Consent rates for donation recently reached an all-time high in Wales of 77% in 2018/19, after they were as low as 58% in 2015/16

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There were more than 200 organ transplants completed on Welsh patients in each of the last two years; an 11% rise from 180 in 2017/18.

Welsh Health Minister, Vaughan Gething MS

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Over the last five years we have seen people’s lives being transformed after receiving an organ. Not only this, but the families of donors have also taken solace in the fact their loved ones have given the gift of life to others.

“None of this would have been possible without the generosity of donors and their families, who give their support, as well as the dedication of all the clinical staff involved.

“We should be incredibly proud of leading the way with an organ donation opt-out scheme in Wales and showing the rest of the UK that such a scheme could work.

“Our achievements have not only saved lives and improved people’s quality of life, but also acted as an example about what a compassionate country can do to care for its citizens.

“There will always be room for improvement and people still need to have the confidence to discuss the matter of organ donation with their families, but the progress we have made in the last five years will be felt for generations to come.”

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Tesco shoppers in Swansea help to provide £1million boost to health

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People in Swansea have been thanked for contributing towards the £1million raised for
three life-saving charities as part of Tesco’s ‘Helping you to live healthier’ initiative.

Tesco customers reached the landmark total for Cancer Research UK, the British Heart
Foundation and Diabetes UK from 13-26 September by rounding up their shop in store to
the nearest £1.

The funds raised will now help the three charities continue their vital work to save and
improve lives.

In addition to the £1million donated, the campaign raised awareness in Swansea about
the importance of people making sustainable lifestyle changes that can help lower their
risk of cancer, heart and circulatory diseases, and type 2 diabetes.

This was done with the help of trusted health information and advice, which was shared
to empower Tesco customers to take small steps to help improve their health.

Oonagh Turnbull, Head of Health Campaigns at Tesco, thanked Tesco shoppers in
Swansea for their generosity, which will make a significant difference to many people’s
lives.

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She added: “It has been inspiring to see our customers really engage with the work we
are doing together, and we hope that we have played a part in raising awareness for
these conditions, as well as life-saving funds.”

The campaign was part of the Health Charity Partnership between Tesco, Cancer
Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK, which aims to inspire and
support Tesco colleagues, customers and their families to make healthier food choices
and live healthier lives.

On behalf of the charity partners , Claire Sadler, Executive Director of Marketing,
Fundraising and Engagement at the British Heart Foundation, said
: “We have been amazed by the incredible generosity of Tesco customers and colleagues
and would like to thank everyone who donated during September.

“Your donations will help to empower millions of people to make healthier choices that
lower their risk of heart and circulatory diseases, cancer, and diabetes. It will also help
our charities provide vital support to millions of people at a time it’s never been more
needed, and it will fund research with the potential to save lives.”

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From a girl who dreamt of being a nurse to retiring aged 75

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A nursing career that dates back to 1964 has finally come to a close for Swansea’s Hazel Eastman.

Hazel has decided to retire at the aged of 75, to spend more time with her family – including her soon-to-be eight grandchildren.

“I would have kept going if I could but it’s a very tough, demanding job – more now than ever – and I have had some health issues.

“It’s been a part of my life for so long and it’s hard to break that routine,” said Hazel.

“You really get to know your patients and I enjoyed working with my colleagues. You could share problems and have a laugh too. I will miss it terribly but I have a lot of good memories.”

In 2016, Hazel, then aged 70, featured in a health board media release about her long career. She recalled how nursing was something she had wanted to do ever since she had her tonsils out as a little girl.

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“I wanted to nurse and look after people. I remember having all the teddies and dolls on my bed and sticking needles into them.

“I had a shock when I went nursing and found out it’s not just sticking needles in people!”

Hazel in her SEN days.
The photo was taken in the late 1970s
(Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

Hazel first donned the student nursing uniform in 1964 at the age of 18 in Morriston Hospital.

She was involved in elderly care for most of her career.

In the mid-1960s she transferred from Morriston to Swansea’s Mount Pleasant Hospital where she trained to become an SEN – State Enrolled Nurse.

Every Christmas Day, Hazel and her colleagues would wear fancy dress to make it a special occasion for their patients.

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Hazel remained in Mount Pleasant for 23 years, during which time she converted to an SRN (State Registered Nurse).

During her time there, she also gave birth to identical twin daughters, in 1967, and later to her third child, a son.

Over subsequent years Hazel worked in Hill House and Fairwood Hospital until it closed in 2010, when she was redeployed to Gorseinon Hospital.

In later years she nursed part time and now, finally, has called it a day. But with seven grandchildren, and with an eighth on the way, even in retirement she will still be kept very busy.

She’s also the first person her family calls on when there is an injury, illness or when any medical attention is required. 

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Hazel, aged 70, pictured in Gorseinon Hospital in 2016 (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

Deb McNeil, unit matron at Gorseinon Hospital said: “I have had the pleasure of working alongside and getting to know Hazel very well for the last four years.

“Hazel makes me smile when I think of her, on a personal level I think of her very witty humour and professionally I am in awe of her achievements and dedication to our health board and ultimately our patients.

“Hazel has a generous nature and will always go above and beyond for both staff and patients alike.

“I remember times when she would volunteer to work every Christmas to give staff time off with their young children.

“Hazel is very much a go-to person, with her trustworthy way and her wealth of life experience that we all as a team learned from and cherished.

“Both personally and on behalf of the whole team I want to say a huge thank you all of your years of service, your dedication and commitment to your role and for your support over the years.

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“You really are an inspiration to us all. Congratulations on your retirement, love and best wishes.”

Lead Image: Hazel outside Gorseinon Hospital, where she worked after redeploying there in 2010 until her retirement (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Swansea University student nurses in line for top honours

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Two nurses from Swansea University’s School of Health and Social Care have been nominated in the UK national ‘Student Nursing Times Awards’.

The annual Student Nursing Times Awards – now in their 10th year – aim to celebrate and support the achievements of the student nursing community across the UK.

Praising the talented nurses, education providers and mentors who entered, the judges acknowledged the challenges the profession had faced over the past 18 months and congratulated all the finalists.

These included Swansea University’s Simon James who is in the running for two honours – Student Nurse of the Year: Adult and Most Inspirational Student Nurse of the Year, a title scooped by Swansea’s Matt Townsend last year.

Since winning a place in the Student Leadership Academy, Simon has developed the confidence to lead through inspiring, influencing and supporting others.  Not only did he act as mentor to four first-year students but he was also chosen for the Council of Deans of Health, Student Leadership programme #150leaders

During the height of the pandemic, he moved into university accommodation for 15 weeks to safeguard his family while working as student nurse HCSW on a stroke ward. He also  coordinated a team of student nurses from around the UK to create a series of video top tips.

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Simon, who has just qualified and begun working in the community, said: “It is a tremendous honour to be shortlisted for both awards. The names on the list are truly inspirational human beings. With all that has happened during the degree I’m very proud to represent Swansea University and am over the moon to have a chance of winning.”

Alongside him on the shortlist for Student Nurse of the Year award is Stuart Michael John Denman. He said: “It is such an honour to be shortlisted for this award. I have been blessed throughout my time as a student nurse at Swansea to have had so many opportunities, experiences and support from the university, their affiliations, the staff, my fellow students and patients of our NHS.

“This has all shaped me to be the newly qualified A&E nurse that I am today. Diolch.”

Besides having two students in the running for prestigious titles, the shortlist also features the School of Health and Social Care’s Student Leadership Academy and Leadership Programme which is up for Best Student Experience for a second successive year.

The Academy’s director Beryl Mansel said she was delighted at the nomination: “This is the third year of the academy, and we are thrilled with the success it has had, so much so that the University of West England is now developing its own leadership programme based on ours.

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“This nomination, which includes positive student feedback and evaluation of their leadership journey, is another welcome reflection of the success of the Academy and we are very grateful to be among the finalists.”

The winners will be announced at an award ceremony to be held in London on Thursday, November 4.

Lead image: Simon James and Stuart Michael John Denman who are both in the running for the Student Nurse of the Year: Adult award. (Image: Swansea University)

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