HYWEL DDA UHB has announced that it has managed to fill gaps in the rota for the out of hours GP service at Prince Philip Hospital, meaning that the service will be available this weekend.
However, at the time of writing, the board has not been able to staff the Friday night out of hours service at Glangwili Hospital.
Yesterday (Mar 8) it emerged that following last Sunday’s closure of the Prince Philip out of hours service Hywel Dda UHB was unable to staff the evening service on Thursday or Friday night.
Llanelli MP Nia Griffith described the situation as ‘completely unacceptable’.
“To make matters worse, the Health Board have not yet been able to staff the Friday evening shift at Glangwili Hospital. So even those Llanelli residents who are able to travel to Carmarthen to get urgent care may find themselves with nowhere to turn tomorrow night. In any case, no-one should be having to take a sick relative all the way to Carmarthen or Swansea.
“Shortly afterwards, Hywel Dda UHB released an updated statement, which said that the health board was ‘finding it increasingly difficult’ to staff rotas.
“While there remain gaps in the Out of Hours rota the only site that currently doesn’t have cover is Glangwili Hospital on Friday evening,” they added.
“The situation is changing quickly and an update will be provided on Friday afternoon 09.3.18 – please keep an eye on our website for further details. Regardless of rotas anyone in Carmarthenshire who is unwell and needs to see a GP should call 111.”
“I have written to the Chief Executive of Hywel Dda demanding a meeting and an explanation for why this has been allowed to happen. It is vital that we keep the out-of-hours GP service open in Llanelli, so I will be pressing the Health Board to explain how it plans to prevent further temporary closures and ensure a long-term future for the service.”
Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Operations Joe Teape said: “I would like to apologise for any concern or inconvenience caused due to ongoing staffing issues in the Out of Hours GP service. This is currently a familiar trend among other health boards across the country. We know that all of our staff and GPs are working really hard to provide safe services for our patients and we appreciate this. We are working together across the whole health board area and across different services to provide a safety net for our patients.
“The public’s health is our number one priority and although we sometimes cannot achieve everything that we want to achieve, we are doing our utmost to ensure that we can continue to provide services that are safe and robust for our local communities.”
In the instance of rotas not being filled, Hywel Dda UHB advised that other health care services such as minor injury units, 111 and community pharmacy, continue to be available. If after a telephone based GP assessment has been completed and someone needs to see a GP face to face they could be asked to travel to a neighbouring county within the Hywel Dda region to see the nearest available GP (the nearest available GP which may be Glangwili or Prince Philip Hospital if one of the rotas can be filled, or Withybush General Hospital, Haverfordwest, or their nearest alternative GP as instructed by 111 operators).
Following the updated statement, Lee Waters AM said he had received ‘a detailed briefing’ on the efforts made by
the health board to fill the gaps in the rota.
“With some their regular GPs away and one off sick they are really struggling to find enough Doctors provide cover, and they are having problems in Glangwili too,” he added.
“Nobody thinks this is good enough.
“The Chief Executive assures me he thinks things should be back to normal by the end of the month but they are expecting some problems in the meantime.
“This is not only a problem in our health board but right across the UK at the moment. The NHS is under enormous strain.
“We can help by using the pharmacy, NHS Direct and the 111 phone service.
“And the Health Board needs to do more to actively recruit more GPs from across the area to help out in out of hours.
If you live in Carmarthenshire and are unwell out of hours during the evenings and weekend you can do a number of things:
• for health information and advice, including online symptom checkers, please visit NHS Direct Wales: www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk
• call 111 – they can help to signpost you to the right service, for example a GP, nurse, pharmacist or Minor Injury Unit, they also provide health information on a wide range of conditions for self care if appropriate
• use your community pharmacy, some of these have enhanced services like ‘triage and treat’ for treatment of minor conditions, including Burry Port Pharmacy
• for a minor injury, you can visit Prince Philip Hospital’s Minor Injury Unit, which is open 24/7
• ONLY in an emergency for serious or life-threatening conditions should you dial 999
Victim speaks out about the impact knifepoint robbery
THE VICTIM of a knifepoint robbery has spoken out about the impact the incident has had on his life as Dyfed-Powys Police takes part in a national knife amnesty aiming to get weapons off the streets.
The 24-year-old was approached by a man he didn’t know while walking his dog in Carmarthen on July 20 this year. A knife was held to his chest, and he was forced to hand over the money in his wallet.
His attacker, Teifion Lewis, of Llammas Street, Carmarthen, was arrested and charged with robbery within four days, and was sentenced to 40 months in prison.
Looking back at the incident, the victim, who has asked to remain anonymous, said: “At first, I didn’t realise he had a knife on him. I just assumed he was another man who was out partying, given he was young and it was late on a Friday night.
“Even when he was right in front of me with his hand on my chest, I assumed he must have had too much to drink and just stumbled into me. Once I saw he was brandishing a knife, though, that changed everything. It was at that moment that I realised I was in far more danger than I’d first thought.
“I suppose the only real thing that was going through my mind at the time was to talk to him, do as he says, and get out of there as soon as possible without becoming hysterical. I just had to keep as calm as possible for the time he was blocking my route.”
He explained that it was only when Lewis had taken his money and walked away, that he realised what could have happened had things gone wrong.
“I thought about how easily he could have stabbed me and I’d have been left out in an empty street, cold and alone, bleeding to death, without even a mobile phone on me to call my friends and family to tell them I love them,” he said.
“I’ve never given much thought as to what my inevitable death will be like, but I’d never have thought it could have ended that way.”
The victim had walked his dog every night for two years – using this particular route for seven months – with no issue. Since being robbed, he has become wary of going out at night and hasn’t been able to walk down the lane where he was stopped without suffering flashbacks.
“It’s not necessarily the whole event that comes back to me, but different parts, such as when he started to sob to me about his home life, or when he apologised for ‘having to mug me’,” he said.
“By far, what’s stuck with me the most are the words said to me as I was being mugged. The words ‘I want your money, I don’t want your life’ have been repeating in my mind every day since then, without failure.”
On September 2, at Swansea Crown Court, Teifion Lewis was sentenced for robbery and possessing a knife in a public place. The victim read out a statement directly addressing Lewis, urging him to get his life back on track and forgiving him for what he did.
“You asked me that night to forget that the robbery had ever happened,” he read. “My assumption is because you were fearful as for what might subsequently happen to you. I’m afraid though, that the image of a knife being flicked towards my chest, and the phrase ‘I want your money, I don’t want your life’ is something I will never be able to erase from my mind, no matter how much I wish for it to go.
“I want you, however, to improve. I want you to use your punishment as your wake-up call, and as a doorway to improving both your future and the future of those who you are close to. There is help available for you, even in prison, and even when it seems all hope is lost. If I can get my life back on track after my autism diagnosis, so can you.
“You’re young, you’re able bodied, and you still have time. Use it wisely. I can’t forget what you did, but just this once I will forgive you.”
The victim has spoken out about his experience as Dyfed-Powys Police takes part in Operation Sceptre – a national week of action aimed at cracking down on the illegal possession of knives. A knife amnesty is taking place during the week (Sept 18-24), with people able to bin their knives at specific locations across the force no questions asked.
The 24-year-old has backed the operation, and the chance to get knives out of our communities.
“I’d prefer it if these people who carry knives with them be honest about who they are and why they have them on their person,” he said. “But it’s much more important that it’s an opportunity to get these weapons off the street.
“If the ability to do this anonymously is what gives these people the confidence to rid themselves of their weapons, then so be it.”
Police cracking down on unauthorised parking in Nott Square
A POLICE crackdown on unauthorised parking in Carmarthen’s Old Town has been welcomed by local businesses.
As The Herald has previously reported, there have been issues with drivers parking in Nott Square for decades, and new Chair of the town’s Chamber of Commerce Nathan Carroll recently wrote to the Leader of CCC to discuss the matter.
While solutions have been trialled in the past, including placing large planters in an attempt to deter illegal parking, they have met with limited degrees of success.
However, on Thursday (Sept 13) police officers began issuing drivers with £30 fixed penalty notices, with six cars ticketed on the first day.
All vehicles parked in the areas and not unloading goods will face a £30 fine for parking in a pedestrianised area.
Inspector Dominic Jones said: “We would ask that members of the public and business owners do not park in Nott Square. This could cause an obstruction and delay emergency vehicles from attending incidents in the town centre. Police officers are actively patrolling the area and will ticket cars or ask drivers to move on.”
The power to book or move vehicles parked in this area currently lies with Dyfed-Powys Police, but an application has been made to the Welsh Government for Carmarthenshire Council to be given this authority.
Mr Carroll said that traders he had spoken to welcomed the police presence. “When they are there to clear it, it’s been very good. They have been moving vehicles on, which is great,” he commented.
“There are still a few issues, but all in all things have improved.
However, he added that traders would like to see a permanent solution, like a removable bollard to allow access for deliveries.
“It’s not perfect, there is still a long way to go – obviously police don’t have the resources to stop every car there,” he remarked, pointing out that the parking problems had been on the Chamber of Commerce agenda for around four decades worth of meetings.
“However, it seems that the latest actions have been positive – and we are hopefully moving to a stage where we don’t have to discuss it anymore,” he added. “We want Nott Square to be more pedestrian-friendly.”
County councillors for the ward Alun Lenny and Gareth John explained that they were ‘very aware’ of the ‘chaotic situation in the town’s two main squares’.
“Only delivery vehicles are allowed to enter Nott Square from the King Street direction, and the constant stream of cars who ignore the road traffic sign outside the Nat West bank are committing a moving traffic offence,” Cllr John explained.
“However, vehicles with business in Quay Street are allowed to exit via the square and Queen Street. Parked cars are an obstruction to visibility of moving traffic and a clear hazard to children, in particular. Unfortunately, council Enforcement Officers (Traffic Wardens) don’t have the powers at present to issue fixed penalty notices to these motorists.
“Guildhall Square only has one entrance/exit – being at the top of Blue Street. Signs also clearly show that vehicles are only allowed to enter the square to unload. Cars parked in the Square have therefore already committed an offence.”
Noting that they had been ‘pressing hard’ for a legal solution to the situation, Cllr Lenny added that a meeting had been held on Monday (Sept 17) convened by Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths and Chaired by Town Mayor Cllr Emlyn Schiavone, with the police and senior Town and County Council officials.
“The County Council has prepared a legal case requesting that its Enforcement Officers should be empowered to issue penalty notices (i.e. parking tickets) to cars parked on both squares. This has to be approved by Welsh Government. We expect a reply this autumn,” he added.
“The County Council will also use a mobile camera, using numberplate recognition technology, to identify illegally parked cars. This will also be used on other sites in the county.
“In the meantime, the police have been warning motorists in the first instance, and are now issuing £50 fixed penalties. This is done with regret, but it does penalise motorists who’ve broken the law. We’re also pleased that Police Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn has arranged for a police office to be opened in Hall Street, which joins the two squares. This means that police officers and PCSOs will be ‘on the ground’ to monitor the situation.
“This has been a long running sore and a source of frustration for us as local members. Planters were placed on Nott Square to deter inconsiderate parking. Unfortunately, they were the target of vandalism. We sincerely hope that the Welsh Government grants the delegated powers as soon as possible so that this dangerous and unsightly problem can be firmly dealt with.”
Break in at old police station
FOLLOWING a break-in at the former Friar’s Park police station, officers found a plethora of items from an antique police bicycle to riot gear in a Carmarthen flat.
Magistrates sitting in Llanelli on Thursday (Sept 13) heard that on July 27 this year police discovered there had been a burglary at the station, which was no longer in use.
A ‘large amount’ of equipment was found to be missing, which was traced to a property on Union Street, where 39-year-old Andrew Scholfield lived.
Scholfield, who gave his nationality as ‘Terran’, pleaded guilty to a charge of handling stolen goods.
Prosecuting, Julie Sullivan explained that officers ‘acting on information received’ attended Scholfield’s home. He was not there, but another resident let the officers in and told them that he had seen Scholfield and another man in the communal room with a trench coat and police helmet.
An array of police equipment and memorabilia was found in the room, including uniforms, riot shields, old photographs, operation reports, a hand-held radar, a scene of crime investigation kit, an old first aid kit, a laptop, a miniature ornamental police helmet, a bicycle, and a radiation detector.
The officers obtained a warrant for Scholfield’s bedroom, and found even more equipment, including hats, helmets, police books, epaulettes and a gas mask.
A statement from the handyperson who worked at Friar’s Park indicated that the items had been taken from all over the building, including the former police museum.
Scholfield was arrested and made no comment in a police interview. The court heard that he was currently subject to a community order for harassment.
Ms Sullivan told magistrates that no valuation for the stolen materials had been provided by Dyfed-Powys Police, which made it ‘a bit difficult to assess’ the level of harm caused. However, she estimated that the goods would be valued at between one and ten thousand pounds.
Scholfield’s solicitor Grayson Tanner said that his client suffered with mental health issues including stress and PTSD.
Following a report from the probation service, Scholfield was sentenced to four months of electronically monitored curfew between 9pm and 7am and ordered to pay costs of £85 and an £85 victim surcharge.
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