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Wales Air Ambulance to become 24/7 service

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The Wales Air Ambulance has achieved its ambition to become a 24/7 service thanks to the donations from the people of Wales.

The Charity, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2021, will start operating an overnight helicopter from Tuesday, 1 December.

The cost of running the helicopters during the day currently stands at £6.5 million every year. To maintain the overnight helicopter, Wales Air Ambulance must raise an additional £1.5 million, bringing the annual fundraising total required for a 24/7 operation to £8 million.

Inside one of Wales Air Ambulance’s helicopters (Image: Wales Air Ambulance)

While the helicopter operation is supported by the people of Wales through charitable donations to the Wales Air Ambulance, the medical capability on board the aircraft is delivered thanks to a unique Third Sector-Public Sector partnership between the Charity, Welsh Government and NHS Wales.

In place since 2015, this collaboration resulted in the creation of the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS Cymru), more commonly known as the ‘Welsh Flying Medics’, which provides pioneering pre-hospital critical and emergency medical care across Wales. The aviation part of the service is run by Babcock Mission Critical Services Onshore on behalf of the Wales Air Ambulance.

The Service, which effectively takes the emergency room to the patients, is made up of senior NHS Wales doctors and critical care practitioners who can deliver critical emergency treatments not routinely available outside the hospital environment. They include surgical procedures, blood transfusions and emergency anaesthesia.

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The need for an overnight Wales Air Ambulance was identified following detailed research into life or limb-threatening emergencies that took place outside the services’ operational hours of 8am to 8pm. Over a 12-month period, there were approximately 990 cases of ‘unmet need’ and the demand was most prevalent in South-East Wales.

While plans for the introduction of the overnight aircraft were being finalised, a road-based consultant and critical care practitioner have been operating between 7pm and 7am every night from the Charity’s Cardiff Heliport based since July 2020. From 1 December, they will be joined by a double pilot crew, allowing them to cover the whole of Wales.

The charity has four helicopters in total, with operations in Caernarfon, Welshpool and Llanelli. (Image: Wales Air Ambulance)

Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, said: “I am delighted the Wales Air Ambulance Service has achieved its ambition to become a 24/7 service. The introduction of the overnight helicopter will provide emergency air cover to more people who have a clinical need for immediate treatment across Wales.

“It has been a pleasure to see the charity go from strength to strength since its launch on St David’s Day in 2001. The work of the charity and its’ hardworking staff and volunteers has helped Wales to lead the way in best practice, clinical excellence and innovation and contributed to the charity becoming the largest air ambulance operation in the UK.”

WAA Chairman, David Gilbert OBE said: “At the start of the year, we said that our aim was to deliver an overnight helicopter by the end of 2020. There have been many years of planning and preparation with our NHS and aviation partners to make it a reality. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we felt it was more important than ever to provide the people of Wales with a 24/7 lifesaving service.

“In 2021, the Charity will mark 20 years of service and what better way to acknowledge that milestone than the introduction of a 24/7 air ambulance operation. This has been two decades in the making and we would not be here without the people of Wales and their incredible generosity, as well as our staff and volunteers.

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“Times are extremely difficult for everybody, but we’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received. We appreciate that some people may not be able to continue their support at the moment, but for those who can, together we can ensure that we maintain a 24/7 service and save lives.”

Professor David Lockey, EMRTS National Director, said: “The ED-standard care we deliver at the roadside improves the chances of survival and long-term recovery from trauma and critical illness. Our aim has always been to deliver equity of access to this advanced pre-hospital critical care across Wales, regardless of location or time of day. Our research has shown that there is a need for an extended air ambulance service overnight and we have already experienced this demand since the introduction of our overnight road-based service in July this year.

“This phase of our 24/7 expansion, the introduction of a Wales Air Ambulance Charity helicopter, is a huge step forward for both our service, and for pre-hospital care in Wales. This has been made possible thanks to the ongoing work and partnership between the public and third sectors, as well as the people of Wales who support the Charity.”

For more information and for ways to support the Wales Air Ambulance Charity, please visit www.walesairambulance.com/247

(Lead image: Wales Air Ambulance)

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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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