Hywel Dda University Health Board is appealing for public support as its hospitals are operating under extreme pressure. Whilst high levels of activity are usual in the winter, this year presents the extra challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a shortage of clinical staff.
The health board has responded to outbreaks of the virus in all of its acute general hospitals, resulting in closures of some wards in all acute hospitals in the Hywel Dda area during the past month.
Meanwhile, the health board has announced the transfer of all patients being treated at Llandovery Community Hospital, to Amman Valley Hospital, in Glanamman, near Ammanford, due to a number of staff, including nurses, at the two hospitals selfisolating after testing positive for COVID-19. This led to significant constraints on the workforce at both sites, which meant sustaining both community nursing and community hospital services became too challenging.
Community transmission of the virus is also very high across all three counties. In the last seven days, the case incidence rate in Carmarthenshire was 305.7 per 100,000 population, with a rate of 165.1 per 100,000 in Ceredigion and 170.1 per 100,000 in Pembrokeshire. Because of these challenges, the health board is in a very difficult position as it cannot safely staff all of beds it would otherwise expect to have open at this point in the year. Additionally, it has had to transfer some staff and patients to field hospitals in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.
The health board is therefore in need the public’s help to ease pressure on the system.
- For urgent and emergency care only, call 999 – hospitals are continuing to see patients who have medical emergencies, as well as those on cancer pathways who have been asked to attend. There are measures in our hospitals designed to keep patients as safe as possible and people are urged to seek urgent medical attention if they need it.
- If you have a non-urgent need, please seek alternatives to A&E such as calling 111, visiting your local community pharmacy or calling your doctor’s surgery.
- Families with relatives in hospital who have tested negative for COVID-19 and are medically fit for discharge can play a crucial role in helping us by supporting discharge from hospital to home – please call the ward sister to discuss individual needs.
- Protect the NHS – and help save lives. Following the government guidance and Keep Wales Safe by staying out of each other’s homes, except in very limited circumstances; limiting how many people you meet; maintaining social distancing; washing your hands regularly, and working from home if you can. Also, if you have symptoms, please stay at home, book a test and only leave home to get your test. For more information please visit gov.wales/coronavirus
Andrew Carruthers, Director of Operations at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “A number of vaccines are being developed and yesterday’s news about the approval of one of these is a hugely welcome and positive development. But, it is critical for the public to understand that we are still at a very dangerous point in the cycle of the pandemic and there is still some way to go before we can return to normality.
“We are dealing with significantly more cases of COVID-19 in our hospitals than we previously had in the spring. Unfortunately, this has also affected our workforce and severely hampered our capacity and escalation plans.
“While we are confident that the number of declared hospital outbreaks is now going down, and that we are able to deep clean and re-open wards safely again, the single biggest issue we face remains staff sickness. This is having a critical effect on our ability to provide care for all but those with emergency / urgent medical conditions, or those who are accessing cancer services. We need to ensure that the services we provide are safe and prioritised in terms of clinical need, so that staff are operating safely.
“I want to be very clear that we will get through this, but we need the public’s help now to stop onward transmission of the virus in our communities and give our workforce a chance to recover, so that they are able to provide safe and effective care for our patients.”
Major new TV drama latest to choose Carmarthenshire as its setting
Carmarthenshire County Council has been working with location scouts and the production team to support the filming of a new thriller, which is using the county as its backdrop.
Y Golau/The Light In The Hall, produced by Triongl Cyf and Duchess Street Productions, is being filmed in Welsh and English and is set to air on S4C and Channel 4 in the UK, and Sundance Now in the US.
Cast and crew have been working in and around Llandovery, Carmarthen, Llangadog and Llandeilo over the past few weeks.
Actors including Joanna Scanlan, currently starring as Ma Larkin in the hit ITV family drama The Larkins, and Iwan Rheon of Game of Thrones, are amongst those featuring in the thriller.
The council has been working to ensure the local area benefits financially from the production with location fees, accommodation and associated spending on food and retail in the Llandovery, Carmarthen, and surrounding areas set to bring a substantial boost to the local economy.
Council officers have also ensured minimal disruption to communities for the duration of the filming, with traffic management and access to local businesses unaffected.
This is the latest major production to be located in Carmarthenshire, on the back of the hugely successful Keeping Faith drama based in Laugharne and Carmarthen, and Save The Cinema, a film due to be released on Sky in the New Year.
Although Llandovery and Carmarthen will see the most activity, other locations across the county are also hosting film crews for a range of other productions at the moment.
Cllr Emlyn Dole, Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council and Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “Yet again Carmarthenshire has been chosen as the location for a major production, which proves that what we have got to offer is enough to attract the best companies in the world.
“Our officers have been supporting the crew to scout locations, contact local landowners and liaise with partners – all part of our efforts to support the growth of the local economy. When we are able to attract productions of this scale, we are able to bring new money into the area – a cast and crew of around 60 people are staying and spending locally, and that means money in the tills of local businesses and in the pockets of local people.”
Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, added: “We are very fortunate to have such a range of locations suitable for filming in Carmarthenshire, from large beaches that stretch for miles, to rural and urban landscapes, rolling countryside and historic buildings. We have worked hard to grow our reputation as a location for filming and that is paying off with more enquiries being made to us all the time. It will be fantastic to see Carmarthenshire featured on the screen once again.”
(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)
Council moves customer services into former Carmarthen Debenhams store
Carmarthen’s council customer services Hwb is moving to St Catherine’s Walk to make use of space in the council’s 100% Sir Gâr pop-up shop.
Carmarthenshire County Council has secured temporary use of the former Debenhams unit in Carmarthen town centre to provide free retail space for local businesses in the run-up to Christmas.
And to take advantage of the space, it is also moving its customer service team there so people can call in and get advice about council services and support, pick up recycling bags and more whilst doing their Christmas shopping.
The cash desk and other council services will remain at Spillman Street.
Several local businesses have already signed up to make use of the free retail space being offered as part of the council’s 100% Sir Gâr initiative, which will see a new lease of life being brought to the empty town centre unit.
Leader of the council, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said it made sense to bring the customer service centre into town to make it easier for people to access council services in the run-up to Christmas.
“We are pleased to be making good use of this empty unit in Carmarthen town centre’s prime retail core,” he said. “We’ve got lots of fantastic local businesses signed up to make use of the free retail space we’re offering as a 100% Sir Gâr pop-up shop.
“We know this time of year is an exceptionally busy period for people, so it made sense to bring our customer services team into the heart of the town so people can get help and support from us without going further out of their way.
“Our customer services team are there to help with everything from accessing financial support to helping people find suitable housing, from applying for blue badges to supporting people with recycling, and much more.
“We hope people will call in to support local businesses as they do their Christmas shopping, and – if they need it – get the help and support of our customer services team at the same time.”
(Lead image: Google Maps)
New state-of-the-art prostate biopsy machine for Glangwili and Prince Philip hospitals
A £50,000 state-of-the-art prostate biopsy machine has been purchased for use at Glangwili and Prince Philip hospitals, thanks to charitable donations to local urology services, including a £30,000 donation from the West Wales Prostate Cancer Support Group.
The new diagnostic equipment will transform the way prostate cancer is diagnosed, according to Urology Consultant Mr Yeung Ng, and enable the Urology team to continue to develop the targeted biopsy service locally.
Consultant Mr Ng said: “The new equipment allows the capacity of prostate biopsies to be doubled, while also allowing the biopsies to be undertaken.
“The equipment will enable us to undertake transperineal biopsies which are safer procedures with a lower rate of infection as we do not have to undertake the biopsy rectally and diagnostic rates are also improved.
“The Urology Department is extremely grateful for the charitable donations that we have received to make this purchase possible, as well as for the continued support that WWPCSG has provided us.
“The support of our local communities has helped us acquire new state-of-the-art prostate diagnostic equipment that equips us well for transitioning over to a transperineal prostate service while continuing to develop the targeted biopsy service.
“This support is helping to transform the way we diagnose prostate cancer, especially as patients have previously had to travel to a neighbouring health board to receive this advanced biopsy.”
Ken Jones, chairman of the West Wales Prostate Cancer Support Group, said: “Our group offers help to men and their partners living in west Wales.
“While we are not an organisation that sets out to raise funds, we are frequently given donations by people that we have helped. So, when we are able, we donate larger sums to areas where they are needed, such as health boards and cancer research charities that work within west Wales.
“We are delighted to be able to assist in the purchase of this equipment that will help in the work of Hywel Dda’s Urology Department.”
Lead Image: From left, at the cheque presentation are: Urology Service Manager Lianne Wood; Clinical Nurse Specialist Angharad Watkins; Chair of Hywel Dda University Health Board Maria Battle; Consultant Mr Yeung Ng; David Goddard, Ken Jones and Iori Rees of WWPCSG; and Claire Rumble, Hywel Dda Health Charities Fundraising Officer. (Image: Hywel Dda NHS)
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