Hywel Dda Health Board, which provides services in Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, warns their hospitals have consistently been operating at the highest levels of emergency pressure escalation, with increasing delays in ambulance handovers, emergency department waiting times and the volume of patients waiting to be discharged.
They are currently treating the highest number of inpatients with confirmed COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, and are at a point where urgent action must be taken to alleviate these pressures and mitigate potential risks to the quality and safety of care we provide to patients.
As a result, from Monday 21 December the Health Board will initiate measures that will allow them to release more clinical staff to support the COVID 19 response, support their inpatient capacity, whilst continuing to provide access to care for those patients with the most urgent clinical need.
The Health Board say they will prioritise outpatient clinics, endoscopy investigations, therapeutic interventions and surgical procedures for patients with the most urgent cancer and other high priority clinical need, whilst temporarily postponing assessments and treatments for patients with less urgent conditions. They ask people to avoid calling to confirm an appointment – and will contact patients if your appointments / admissions are to be cancelled. Emergency services will continue as normal.
The actions outlined will come into effect for an initial 4 week period from Monday 21st December 2020, and will be reviewed during the second week of January 2021. If they need to be extended beyond this period, they will be further reviewed at subsequent 3-week intervals.
The Health Board is also progressively expanding capacity at our field hospital locations as part of our wider Covid-19 response to help us better manage patient capacity and flow in our acute and community hospital sites.
Andrew Carruthers, Director of Operations at Hywel Dda, said: “From the outset of the pandemic, the Health Board has anticipated and planned for the need to redeploy clinical staff into urgent and critical care roles if they are needed. The measures we are taking are intended to protect patients with the most urgent clinical need whilst allowing us to reprioritise staff to mitigate the increasing risk of harm in acute and emergency care, due to the pressures we have spoken about.
“We are working together as one Health Board and I am deeply proud of all of our staff for their professionalism and commitment to keeping key NHS services running, even in the face of danger, and under extreme pressure and fatigue. Thank you all.”
Mansell Bennett, Chair of local patient watchdog the Community Health Council added: “Local NHS services are clearly under great pressure currently. We understand that temporary changes and difficult decisions need to be made.
“It’s a really tough time for the NHS staff who are working daily to deliver safe services in hospitals, in GP surgeries as well as within our communities in a wide range of places. Every one of us may need those services or may already use and rely upon them. We have spoken to the Health Board regularly throughout the pandemic, to monitor the situation as it has been changing. As we approach Christmas, the situation is becoming even more challenging and we’ll continue to listen to what the public are saying.”
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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