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Swansea Bay NHS

Water babies make a splash at hospital hydro pools

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Opening up the hydrotherapy pool at Neath Port Talbot Hospital has led to lifesaving skills being taught in dedicated swimming classes to help safeguard babies and toddlers from drowning, Swansea Bay University Health Board have said.

The health board say changes in the way their hydrotherapy pools are managed mean that when they are not being used for clinical sessions with patients, they can now be offered for community use out of hours.

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Water Babies, a group who deliver swimming programmes to pre-school aged children, is now using the pool at Neath Port Talbot Hospital. 

The sessions in the hydrotherapy pool are fun but have an extremely serious benefit.

In the UK, drowning is the third highest cause of accidental death among babies and children. 

In most cases, the shock of sudden submersion causes children to panic, but introducing infants to water from very early on can make a real difference. 

By the age of two, toddlers can be taught to fall in, surface, swim to the side and hold on.

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An affordable hire fee from the health board and a grant from Neath Port Talbot council has already helped the group teach lifesaving skills to over 100 babies and parents. They hope to double that amount by the end of May.

“We’re delighted to be able to hold our classes at Neath Port Talbot Hospital’s hydrotherapy pool – it’s an excellent facility,” said Aletia Griffiths, director of Water Babies, who also hold classes at Singleton Hospital’s hydrotherapy pool. 

“In the last few years, at least 10 tiny Water Babies pupils in the UK have saved their own lives, five of whom were just two years old at the time.

“It’s fantastic what vital skills children can learn, and it’s so important that they do so as soon as possible.

“As well as water safety skills and enjoying the water, another key focus is to help strengthen the bond between carer and child.” 

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Water Babies runs a pre-school swimming programs at Neath Port Talbot Hospital’s pool (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

 Water Babies are among the groups who have hired the facility following changes made to the way hydrotherapy pools are run within the health board. 

The health board’s engagement programme Changing for the Future proposed a series of changes to the way urgent and planned care services are delivered following Covid. 

Following public consultation, Neath Port Talbot hospital will become a centre of excellence for rehabilitation. 

The hydrotherapy pool at the hospital, along with another at Singleton Hospital, are now the focus for hydrotherapy resources and sessions for Swansea Bay patients. The older pool at Morriston Hospital has since closed. 

The pools at Neath Port Talbot and Singleton have already seen an increase in numbers benefiting from them, with a wide range of people from babies to elderly patients using the pools to manage debilitating short and long-term conditions. 

Daniel Clarke, Musculoskeletal physio assistant; physiotherapists Holly Speare and Kristen Bucknall along with Jordanna Roberts, physio clinical lead (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

The health board hopes to encourage more community groups and voluntary sector organisations to hire the pool in Neath Port Talbot outside of NHS operational hours to aid their health and wellbeing. 

Jordanna Roberts, physio clinical lead across Neath Port Talbot and Singleton hospitals, highlighted further advantages from the group’s use of the pool, along with general benefits.

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She said: “There is a social element which has been missing for many during Covid, so the lessons are a chance for mums to network and build up supportive parenting relationships. 

“Physically any exercise and movement has a multitude of health benefits, including improving mood, sleep, physical strength and mobility, alongside preventing against chronic health conditions. 

“The warm and buoyant water within the pool reduces joint load and can make stretching and movement more effective and comfortable. 

“Following the success of the Water Babies class, we are keen to work with other partners to increase overall population access. 

“We’d be keen to hear from any groups interested in hiring out the pool pools at both Neath Port Talbot and Singleton.” 

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To hire the hydrotherapy pools at Neath Port Talbot Hospital and Singleton Hospital, contact 01792 285383 or email Jordanna.Roberts@wales.nhs.uk

(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Swansea Bay NHS

£2.5m investment aims to help tackle hospital waiting lists in Swansea Bay by expanding care after surgery

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photo of woman lying in hospital bed

Swansea Bay University Health Board say a £2.5million investment in a new service that provides enhanced recovery support for patients following some types of complex surgery, will open the way for Singleton and Neath Port Talbot hospitals to do even more to tackle waiting lists.

In the wake of the two-year+ pandemic, pressure on waiting lists is higher than ever. Changes to how Swansea Bay University Health Board delivers services; and investment in staff and equipment, are aimed at bringing those waits down the health board says.

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One of the key investments is focused on expanding enhanced post-operative care facilities, which offer a step up from general ward care for patients who need extra support immediately after their operation.

This includes offering patients advanced pain relief, blood pressure monitoring and oxygen support in the immediate 24-48 hour post-operative period.

These facilities and services are not as intensive as high dependency or intensive care units. However, this additional layer of care will offer Swansea Bay hospitals greater flexibility over where that surgery can be carried out.

Opening these services in Singleton and Neath Port Talbot hospitals mean they will soon be able to offer a wider range of certain surgeries which are currently only carried out in Morriston Hospital.

Pankaj Kumar, Deputy Group Medical Director, Morriston Hospital and the project lead said: “In providing these enhanced post-operative care facilities, the health board is providing right-sized, fit for purpose, post-operative care that is responsive to every patients’ needs and is efficient in its delivery of care.

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“It will lead to improved patient care and better clinical outcomes for patients, and will also reduce the time they spend in hospital.”

The health board says that expanding these services will also ease the pressure on critical care units located on the Morriston site, and reduce the risk of a scheduled operation being cancelled at the last minute because an emergency patient needed the bed.

Singleton Hospital, which already carries out some complex surgery, will benefit from four enhanced post-operative recovery beds to begin with (eventual plan is for six beds) offering the enhanced post-operative recovery facilities particularly for colorectal and gynaecology patients.

Neath Port Talbot’s plan to become the Orthopaedic Centre of Excellence will be supported by enhanced recovery unit beds being introduced in phase two, with the commissioning of three beds. This development will also help urology surgical patients.

Morriston Hospital already has advanced post-operative care beds as part of post-anaesthetic care unit services to complement its higher level of critical care beds.

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Mumbles

Breakfast club dishes up dose of wellness to socially isolated

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A new breakfast club is dishing up the opportunity for people in Swansea to connect with each other.

The well-being project is partly funded by the Bay Health Cluster, which is made up of eight GP practices spread across the Sketty, Uplands, Mumbles and Gower areas, as it aims to tackle social isolation among adults.

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Based at Linden Church in West Cross, the weekly drop-ins are run by Red Community Project, an organisation which aims to bring people together and help build good relationships.

Each person is offered a cooked breakfast and is encouraged to get to know those around them.

Rachel Matthews, from Red Community Project, said: “We are hoping to make Linden Church a well-being hub in the area.

“Every Wednesday we have a free breakfast club with a cooked breakfast and our target group is people who are lonely.

“It is one of the target issues in West Cross as it’s an area with no Men’s Shed or anything for men, in particular, with mental health issues.

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“We have had a mixture of people come so far. We’ve even had the police attend, as well as the local postman, so it’s definitely got a community feel to it.

“We are hoping to build up a safe place for people to come and we hope it is going to grow.”
Anyone living in the nearby area is welcome to attend the weekly drop-ins, whether they feel lonely or not.

One person who has enjoyed going along is Vance Horn.

He said: “I think it’s a great project because it gives me a break from my flat and gives me time to be with other people.

“I have been coming along since the start.

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“The food here is really nice and the staff are brilliant. They are very generous in giving up their free time.”

While Jeremy Breem added: “I come here for breakfast every Wednesday and I’ve met some nice people through it.

“It helps to get you out of the house and seeing people, which I think is great.”

John Bennett is just one of the multiple volunteers who give up their time to cook, chat and clean up at the weekly meet-up.

Red Community Project also oversees the local food bank in Mumbles, with many of those volunteers lending a hand at the breakfast club too.

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“It’s nice to be able to give something back to people,” Mr Bennett said.

“Some of the people here may not see anybody again or talk to anybody again for the rest of the day.

“At least here they can come and have something to eat or have a chat and hopefully it makes them feel a bit better.

“They must feel like it’s something nice to come to as we have offers of help from them to do the dishes afterwards, so it’s nice they want to give something back to us as well.

“You definitely get something out of helping other people.”

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Bay Health Cluster lead, Dr Nicola Jones, said: “We are delighted to be able to help support the West Cross Well-being Project.

“It is providing a much-needed space to allow the local population to re-establish those vital connections to each other which we all missed out on during the Covid-19 pandemic, and which are vital for maintaining a healthy, thriving community.”

Lead image: Dan Evans, Barbara Matthews and Rachel Matthews of Red Community Project (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Charity

Reverend’s grand gesture to team that performed life-saving surgery

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A retired reverend geared up for a challenge by cycling 100km to raise funds for the Morriston Hospital surgical team he says saved his life.

Aled Williams underwent a five-hour operation at Morriston Hospital in November 2019 after an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) was detected.

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Less than three years later he was back at the hospital but for a much happier reason – to present a cheque for £1,000, which will be put towards training surgeons of the future.

An AAA is a bulge or swelling in the aorta – the main blood vessel that runs from the heart down through the chest and abdomen.

It can be dangerous if not detected early. It can get bigger over time and there is a risk it will burst, causing life-threatening bleeding.

AAAs do not usually cause any obvious symptoms, and are often only picked up during screening or tests carried out for another reason.

That was the case with Mr Williams, who was asymptomatic and whose diagnosis came purely by chance.

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He said: “The process began when I read a newspaper article regarding an AAA Screening Programme which was being run by Public Health Wales for men of 65-plus.

“I took the initiative, rang the office in Swansea and was immediately offered an ultrasound scan at my local surgery in Lampeter, where a medium-sized AAA was detected.

“The monitoring of my condition then continued on a three-monthly basis for the ensuing three years or so, until the aneurysm had developed into a large one in August 2019.

“I was then strongly advised to undergo an operation to remedy the situation.”

Those at a higher risk of getting an AAA include all men aged 65 with conditions such as high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, high cholesterol, a family history of AAA, cardiovascular disease, stroke or if they smoke or have previously smoked.

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Aled Williams (right) was joined throughout the cycle challenge by his daughter Lois and son Rhun (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

The screening programme has been running in Wales since 2013. All men in the year of their 65th birthday are invited for an ultrasound scan to detect if there is an AAA present.

How an AAA is managed depends on its size; an annual scan if it’s small and a three-monthly scan if it’s medium.

However, once the AAA reaches a certain size, surgery is recommended to stop it getting bigger or bursting with potentially life-threatening consequences.

Following successful surgery, which was carried out by Morriston’s vascular surgery team, Mr Williams spent nine days recovering in hospital before returning home.

Then he set his sights on showing his appreciation for the treatment he received.

The keen cyclist got into gear and on his bike as he looked to raise money for the vascular department by completing 100km (62 miles) over four days.

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Accompanied by his children Lois and Rhun, their route started in Llanelli’s Millennium Coastal Path and headed along the Carmarthenshire coast, covering Burry Port and Kidwelly.

Their efforts paid off, with their initial target of £500 easily surpassed.

“I decided to acknowledge in some small way the life-saving treatment, together with a wide range of tests and consultations pre-operation, which I had received so swiftly from the NHS,” said Mr Williams, who served Llanelli, Boncath, Llanddewibrefi, Lampeter, St David’s during his time as reverend.

“I hit on the idea of the cycle ride as a means of giving something back to those who had given me so much. The path was perfect and not so taxing for a man in his early 70s!

Aled Williams presents consultant Kamran Mohiuddin with a cheque for Morriston Hospital’s vascular surgery department (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

“We were delighted to have raised £1,000 and I must acknowledge the generosity of everyone who donated.”

Since completing his cycle challenge, Mr Williams has returned to Morriston Hospital. This time, however, it was in far different circumstances.

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With cheque in hand, he presented Kamran Mohiuddin, the consultant who performed his surgery, with the £1,000 donation.

“The generous donation has been deposited in the Vascular Surgery Fund at Morriston,” said Mr Mohiuddin.

“This will be used to help train future vascular surgeons.

“It is always a good feeling to see patients do well. It was a pleasant surprise to see Mr Williams a few years after the surgery.

“We are very grateful for the fundraising that Mr Williams and his family has done for the vascular surgery department.”

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Following his visit, Mr Williams added: “I shall forever owe Mr Mohiuddin a debt of gratitude. Also the standard of care at the vascular department was second to none.

“One hears so much negativity about the health service, belying the fact that many good things do happen.

“I can honestly say that my experience throughout the process was excellent from beginning to end.

“I have the utmost respect for Mr Mohiuddin, and not only on account of his professional skill and expertise.

“From our first meeting, he displayed a calm and compassionate attitude, while explaining in detail every aspect of my condition and the various steps of the treatment required.

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“Despite the obvious seriousness of the process, he was able to instil confidence in one such as myself, whose experience of hospitals and major operations was virtually non-existent.

“Their expertise mean I have regained my strength and feel as vibrant as I did pre-surgery.”

(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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