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RNLI partnership to protect dog-walkers

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Jan Godfrey-Coles and Blodwen: With crew and station representatives from Burry Port RNLI and Karlien Heyrman (right), Vet and Clinical Services Manager at Vets4Pets.

THE RNLI has launched a pilot partnership with national veterinary group Vets4Pets, to support its on-going Respect the Water campaign.

The partnership will initially focus on Wales and enable both organisations to support water safety messages, for local people and their pets.

As part of the pilot programme, Welsh lifeboat stations will work closely with Vets4Pets’ 22 practices, which includes two Companion Care surgeries, throughout the country, to focus on a key group of users which the RNLI has identified as being at risk when on or near the coast – dog walkers.

Helen Church, the RNLI’s community safety partner for Wales and West, said: ‘This pilot partnership is a brilliant opportunity to work with an organisation that in many ways is similar to the RNLI.

‘Vets4Pets practices are distributed throughout Wales, provide a vital service and are an intrinsic part of their local community.

‘We know dog walkers are an ‘at risk’ group when walking their pets around water and the coast, which means Vets4Pets is an ideal partner for us as we continue to deliver water safety messages.

‘Vets4Pets are experts in pet welfare and their strong relationships with pet owners will be a key asset in teaching dog walkers about our Respect the Water campaign.’

The partnership will see RNLI lifeboat stations joining forces with their local Vets4Pets practice, to provide support for work each other does in the local community.

This will include tailoring First Aid pet workshops to include water safety messages and vets and vet nurses advising RNLI volunteers on how best to handle pets they have rescued.

Karlien Heyrman, vet and clinical services manager at Vets4Pets, said: ‘The RNLI are a fantastic organisation whose volunteers work selflessly and tirelessly to keep people, and pets, safe around the waters of the UK.

‘We’re delighted to be launching this partnership to help the RNLI increase awareness of water safety to our clients and hopefully play a role in preventing unnecessary incidents involving pets and their owners getting into trouble in the water.

‘Vets4Pets practices are all locally owned and are passionate about being part of their local community and by partnering with their local RNLI lifeboat station, it can only add benefit to clients and their pets.’

Prevention is key for the RNLI – helping people by providing communities with the skills and knowledge to keep themselves and their pets safe around water and when they visit the coast.

‘Sadly more than 200 walkers have died since 2011 around our coast, many when walking their dog and our annual Respect the Water drowning prevention campaign helps us to focus on advising people to give water the healthy respect it deserves,’ added Helen.

‘While we will always answer the call for help, myself and everyone within the RNLI would like to see people thinking more about their safety before and during their visit to water and the coast.

‘A key message we’ll be working on with Vets4Pets, is to convey to pet owners that we would not encourage people to enter water to save pets. More often than not, the person themselves can get into danger, further escalating the jeopardy and the need for a rescue.

‘Instead, people should call the Coastguard on 112 or 999 when at coastal locations or 112 or 999 and ask for the Fire and Rescue service when at any inland waterside location. The RNLI will attend a pet in distress.

‘As we move into the peak holiday season around the UK, this partnership with Vets4Pets will help deliver key water safety messages to a relevant group of people and hopefully help save lives.’

Dog owner Jan Godfrey-Coles knows all too well the importance of water safety when walking a dog on the coast.

Jan was taking her four-year-old Staffie cross Blodwen for her regular beach walk at Burry Port on a low tide last month (July). Blodwen loves splashing in and out of the water, but this time her exuberance got her into trouble as the strong currents off Burry Port on lower tides swept her out away from the shore.

Before Jan knew it Blodwen was swept a long way out and, unable to swim against the current, was getting further and further away from her desperate owner.

Jan immediately called 999 and asked for the Coastguard, who requested the launch of Burry Port RNLI’s D class inshore lifeboat Diane Hilary and its volunteer crew.

Jan said: ‘Panic had set in and by now Blodwen was a good 60-70m from the shore. I was considering swimming out to try and rescue her as I thought I was going to lose her. Then I saw the lifeboat crew racing towards Blodwen. It was only minutes after I made the 999 call and I was so glad they were on their way to get her.’

The charity’s lifeboat crew quickly reached Blodwen, who by this time was tired and cold, brought her on board the lifeboat and took her ashore to be reunited with a delighted Jan.

‘The lifeboat crew were fantastic,’ she added.

‘I was so well looked after and I can’t thank them enough. Not only did they save Blodwen but their presence also prevented me from trying to swim out to her and potentially putting myself at risk.

‘As a dog walker I take Blodwen to the beach all the time, but water safety never used to be a major consideration for me. I think it is fantastic that the RNLI is teaming up with Vets4Pets to promote vital safety tips to as many dog walkers as possible.’

Alun Wells, Deputy Launching Authority for Burry Port RNLI, said: ‘Jan did what we would encourage any dog walker to do if their animal gets into difficulty on or near the sea – call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

‘It can be tempting for dog walkers to enter the water and attempt to rescue their beloved animals, but by doing so they can put themselves in serious danger.’

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Closure of hospitals considered by Hywel Dda Health Board

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A NUMBER of the options for health care in the Hywel Dda area involve closing or removing services from Glangwili and / or Prince Philip Hospitals, consultation documents have revealed.

As The Herald reported last week, Hywel Dda UHB is considering a number of options following a series of public engagements last year.

The plans, which were described as ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity’ by Medical Director Dr Philip Kloer, appeared to mainly involve transferring more hospital services into the community where appropriate.

This was as part of a strategy that the Health Board was looking into, to help solve an acute recruitment problem which is putting a great deal of pressure on the way that the Heath Board operates – and is leading to an untenable level of use of costly temporary staff to plug gaps and services.

However, of the nine options which have been listed at this stage, five show Glangwili Hospital closing entirely, while four also show Prince Philip close its doors.

In the instances where a hospital would be closed, it is envisaged that the service provision would be replaced by 24/7 urgent provision, and ‘community hubs’.

Other options include having planned surgery at the hospitals, or even closing Withybush, Glangwili and Prince Philip and replacing them with one centrally-located hospital.

Llanelli MP Nia Griffith said: “I will always speak up for getting the best possible access to hospital services for people in the Llanelli constituency, and for keeping services at Prince Philip Hospital.

“When I sought reassurances from the Chair of Hywel Dda, she explained that the health board is currently looking at a whole range of options, and stressed the considerable investment that has gone into Prince Philip and Pride in the services there.

“I will be keeping a close eye on the situation.”

In a statement about the reorganisation, the Health Board said: “All potential options, which are clinically-led, consider significant change to the status quo and focus on improving the health of the local population and transferring more hospital services into the community where appropriate. Some consider whether hospitals need to take on different roles, or even need to be replaced.

“A fewer number of preferred options will be released publicly in the spring, when the Health Board is confident they are viable, safe and an improvement on what is currently provided.”

Medical Director Dr Philip Kloer said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our health service and community to work together to design an NHS which is fit for our generation and beyond. It has been acknowledged for some time across the UK that healthcare services are challenged like never before and we need significant change. Indeed this has been recognised in the recently published ‘Parliamentary Review of Health & Social Care’ here in Wales.

“We need to develop more proactive, resilient and better resourced local community services to support and improve people’s health and wellbeing, and avoid deterioration where possible. This will involve closer working with our partners, particularly colleagues in social care. We are also looking at ways of providing the most modern clinical practice, using the latest digital, technological, and new scientific developments, in fit for purpose facilities to provide better patient outcomes and experience.

“A number of our services are fragile and dependent on significant numbers of temporary staff, which can lead to poorer quality care. For us specifically in Hywel Dda, the geography we cover is large, with many scattered communities that are getting older, needing more holistic health and social care treatment and support. Because of this, we need to better resource our community based care, which is where most of our patient contact is, and help people manage their health conditions. We also need to evolve traditional ways of working and provide a more proactive approach. This should give patients – young, older and frail and everyone in between – the services they need when the need it, so people do not have to wait too long.

“This will mean changing hospital-based care, as well as community care, and we appreciate the attachment local people and our own staff have for their local hospitals. They have been cared for in them, or work in them, and they also play an important role in our wider communities. The options may propose change to a local hospital; however this is about more than the buildings. This is about investing in our communities, attracting doctors, nurses and therapists by operating a modern healthcare system and keeping hospitals for those who really need hospital care.

“We will not put in place any change that isn’t safe for our patients and population. And we will look at all the impacts from ensuring services are safer with better patient outcomes, to considering the wider impact on people, including the most vulnerable.”

Plaid Cymru, Mid and West AM, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Simon Thomas said: “These leaked documents once again call into question the commitment of the Labour government into providing a health service for rural Wales and in the west.

“Hywel Dda health bosses appear obsessed with service change and re-organisation rather than getting on with the job of running health services. It’s only a few years since the last set of major changes, justified on the grounds of ‘sustainability’ and allegedly for the long term.

“Now once again the board are considering more changes, like a gambling addict convinced just one more bet will solve their problems. Trying to have a health service with no hospitals locally is something no other country would even attempt, but that doesn’t appear to stop this relentless ideology of pretending you can deal with an elderly population by substituting hospital beds in exchange for a few extra community health staff with ipads.

“Plaid Cymru have a long-term health plan to recruit more doctors and nurses for the Welsh NHS including our hospital services.”

Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas has tabled an emergency question in the National Assembly to seek answers from the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Vaughan Gething.

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Councillors secure safety fence for ‘pond’

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SARON Ward County Councillors Carl Harris and Alun Davies have secured safety measures around the attenuation pond on the Ty Dyffryn / Rhodfa Frank estate, Ammanford.

The pond, which is vital to manage the control of surface water in the area, has been a cause for concern for local residents who believed a larger barrier around the pond should be erected.

The two County Councillors took these concerns to Family Housing Association which operates the site. At a site meeting last year, the two Plaid Cymru Councillors secured a commitment that a range of options for the pond would be drawn up.

Recently a new fence has been installed, meaning that water can build up in the pond without the fear and concern of anyone, including young children on the estate, being able to access the water.

Welcoming the news, Saron Ward County Councillor Carl Harris said: “Following up on the concerns raised by local residents, Councillor Alun Davies and I arranged a meeting at Ty Dyffryn with a Director of Family Housing.

“During this meeting we were able to stress how residents believed the cordon around the attenuation pond was inadequate. We also discussed options for preventing access to the river which runs around the top of the site.

“I am absolutely delighted that Family Housing have installed a new barrier around the pond. They have also erected a wooden fence around the river which surrounds the housing estate, making the estate safer and reducing the risks associated with water. Both Alun and I are grateful to Family Housing for addressing the concerns we raised with them.

“It took a bit of time, but we have managed to achieve a solution that many residents were asking for. I sincerely hope they are happy with the result.”

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Man denies £7,000 burglary

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A MAN from West Sussex has today denied carrying out a £7,000 burglary in Lampeter.

Kurtis Poat, aged 23, appeared at Swansea Crown Court for a plea and trial preparation hearing before Judge Paul Thomas.

Poat, of Osborne Crescent, Chichester, denied breaking into a house in Nantyglyn, Cwmann, in May, 2017, and stealing a tin containing £7,000 in cash.

Poat faces a two day trial scheduled to begin on April 11 and was granted bail until then.

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