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Man awarded £65,000 after losing eyesight following wrong diagnosis

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A ‘FIT AND HEALTHY’ grandad of four lost his sight, had a stroke and a double heart bypass, and will eventually lose his eye, after an on-call ophthalmologist failed to investigate his symptoms on New Year’s Day.

When 74-year-old Andrew Baker of Narberth, woke up on January 1, 2017, with black spots in front of his eyes, never could he have imagined that just days later he would have lost all vision in one eye.

When the black spots started to turn into floaters, redness, pain and loss of vision in his right eye later that day, Mr Baker – who had never experienced issues with his sight before – took the advice of his GP son-in-law and went straight to A&E at Glangwili General Hospital.

Mr Baker was seen by a doctor and his condition was discussed with the on-call ophthalmologist over the phone but, as it was New Year’s Day, the ophthalmologist failed to attend to examine him. Diagnosed with vitreous haemorrhage and with a plan put in place for him to be provided with ointment and analgesia, Mr Baker went home.

Had Mr Baker been examined by an ophthalmologist, it would have been confirmed as an ophthalmic emergency and he would have undergone a vitreous biopsy and antibiotic injections, which would have saved some of the sight in his right eye.

The following day, Mr Baker woke up to find that he was completely blind in his right eye and in severe pain. He attended the Tysul Eye Unit at Glangwili General Hospital on January 3, 4 and 5 – and was diagnosed with endogenous endophthalmitis – a very severe sight-threatening condition. Mr Baker was then told that a mistake had been made and that the two days in between his symptoms first appearing and his condition being confirmed had been critical with his sight loss.

The first 48 hours from this condition developing are vital in attempting to save the vision in the eye and the on-call ophthalmologist’s failure to attend the hospital to examine Mr Baker and the wrongful diagnosis of vitreous haemorrhage meant that Mr Baker’s eye sight could not be saved.

On January 6, Mr Baker was operated on to try to save the vision in his right eye, however this proved unsuccessful and he lost complete vision in his right eye. He subsequently required an operation to repair the inward turning of the eyelid and in the future, will need an operation to remove the eye.

Mr Baker contacted Fletchers Solicitors to commence a medical negligence claim against the Hywel Dda University Health Board on his behalf.

Fletchers successfully pursued the claim and Mr Baker was awarded £65,000 from the hospital for the delay in diagnosis.

Andrew Tindall, litigation executive in the medical negligence team at Fletchers Solicitors, said: “The facts of this case go to show just how important physical examinations of patients are, and that in some instances a diagnosis over the telephone can have devastating consequences.

“If the on-call ophthalmologist had attended to Mr Baker as he/she should have done, he would still have some sight in his right eye and would not require the removal of his eye in the future. No amount of money will bring the sight back in Mr Baker’s eye, but I do hope the compensation awarded can go some way to helping Mr Baker with his future needs.”

After his operation, Andrew’s health went rapidly downhill. He had a mini-stroke due to endocarditis and had to have a double heart bypass. In September 2017, Andrew had a recurrence of endocarditis, was put on an intensive course of intravenous antibiotics and was in hospital for six weeks.

Mr Baker commented: “I am bitterly upset at my loss of vision; particularly because I have been told that if I had been treated in time, it could have been saved.

“I just wanted an apology and someone to say that they were sorry for letting this happen to me. I’ve known people who have lost their vision, but I didn’t appreciate the impact it has on your life – it’s completely ruined my life. I can’t drive or read anymore; there is so much that I am no longer able to do.”

“I was a fit 72-year-old and now I’m like an old man. I used to walk about eight miles a day but now I’m lucky if I can manage 600 yards.  Some days I don’t even want to get up in the morning because I know I’m not going to be able to do the things that I want to do. I had such a good life and I’ve lost so much.”

Mr Baker has had three operations to try to repair his eye and give him some vision back, but each operation has failed.

Mr Baker added: “Andrew was extremely efficient, and I was very, very pleased with all his efforts on my behalf. He was amazing throughout the case.

“The compensation was greater than I ever expected, and it will help with things that I need in the future, but nothing can compensate for what I’ve lost.”

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Almost 100 jobs to go at Calsonic Llanelli

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A MAJOR Llanelli employer is to shed almost a quarter of its employees following what it describes as a ‘significant drop-off in sales’.

Calsonic Kansei, based says that continuing political and economic uncertainty have contributed to its decision to lay off 95 workers at its Lleithri Road factory on the outskirts of the town.

Calsonic were offered £4.4m from the Welsh Government to create 88 jobs at the plant late last year.

Llanelli’s local AM, Lee Waters, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for the Economy and Nia Griffith MP issued a joint statement about the jobs blow.

Lee Waters AM said “Nia Griffith and I will be doing what we can to work with the company, trade unions and other employers in the area to help the workers directly affected. And the Welsh Government will be extending the taskforce helping workers at Schaeffler to offer practical support.”

“Calsonic were offered significant Welsh Government help to develop new products at the end of last year, and we will continue to do what we can to help create a sustainable future for the site, through what is clearly a troubling period.”

Nia Griffith MP said “The next month will be a difficult period for the workers and their families at Calsonic, both Lee and I are ready to do whatever we can to help anyone affected. Alongside working directly with the factory staff and the trade unions, I’ll be using my voice in Parliament to ask the UK Government to match Welsh Government’s ongoing commitment to the plant and the workforce.”

Calsonic’s vice-president of HR for Europe, Neil O’ Brien, said: “The automotive industry is at a transitional stage, as well as being at a key point in several major vehicle ‘life cycles’, with car manufacturers developing their technologies to satisfy the ever demanding environmental legislation and moving towards autonomous and electric vehicles.

“During this period of transition, the added pressures of market instability caused by the political and economic conditions have affected our customers’ volumes and, consequently, Calsonic Kansei’s sales have seen a significant drop.

“The company intends to do everything reasonably possible to reduce the impact of this proposal on its employees.”

In January Schaeffler announced plans to close its plant in Leave-voting Llanelli with a loss of 200 skilled jobs.

Schaeffler also cited uncertainty about the UK’s economic and political future as being partially responsible for its decision.

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West Wales responds to Notre-Dame ‘tragedy’

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Notre-Dame de Paris: The large fire partially destroyed the cathedral on Monday

THE WORLD has reacted to the major fire that partially destroyed Notre-Dame Cathedral, with religious leaders of west Wales among those to have sent prayers to Paris.

The large fire on Monday (Apr 15) damaged much of the historic landmark, destroying the roof as well as the famous spire. The fire began at around 6:30pm local time (4:30pm GMT) and it took until 10am (8am GMT) on Tuesday morning for firefighters to fully extinguish the blaze. Many of the relics held in the cathedral, including the crown of thorns brought there in 1239 by St. Louis, said to be that which was placed on the head of Jesus leading up to his crucifixion, were saved by firefighters. One firefighter is said to have suffered minor injuries while tackling the fire. The cause of the fire is not yet clear, but Paris’ public prosecutor is working under the assumption that it was an accident.

Whilst the principal structure was saved, including the famed towers, the building is still seen as unstable. Prior to the fire, there was already scaffolding in place to deal with the cracks appearing in the stonework. Renovations were underway and 16 copper statues had already been removed last week.

Notre-Dame de Paris, meaning ‘Our Lady of Paris’, is one of the most widely recognised symbols of France, and is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The site of the cathedral is thought to have been of religious significance dating back as far as Roman Gaul. The construction of the modern church began in 1163, and the cathedral is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture.

Already hundreds of millions of euros have been donated towards the reconstruction of the site, as people across the world have reacted to the news and sent both prayers and funds to Paris.

Bishop of Menevia Tom Burns said: “For a thousand years it has stood as a beacon of prayer and hope. But what a tragedy struck Paris and the French nation on Monday evening at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. It is a beautiful creation that resides at the very heart of French life and in the hearts of French people wherever they happen to be, of whatever faith or none. It has struck chords in all people of good will who have walked through its doors into an arena of peace and calm.

“Some years ago, after wondering at the flying-buttresses that supported the thick stone walls, I had entered under that roof, never conscious of the vulnerability of its wooden structure. As I saw on television on Monday evening the fire raging through the roof, and the spire disintegrating piece by piece, I felt a lump in my throat. I shared with the people of France my sense of having once touched something quite unique. For, it had been my privilege, as Bishop of HM Forces, to preach from the Cathedral’s vast pulpit on Remembrance Sunday just over a decade ago.

“Now this was another sad occasion to remember, though thankfully without any loss of life. As York Minster was resurrected from the flames some years ago, and similarly Windsor Castle in more recent times, may the experts in restoring ancient buildings combine their God-given skills to rebuilding Notre-Dame de Paris. May it rise from the ashes to fulfil its function as God’s House in this world and to re-assure us that such a building evokes belonging and inspires us to greater things. It is still greatly needed, if not even more so now.”

Fr. Liam Bradley, Parish Priest at St David and St Patrick Church in Haverfordwest, said: “We hold in our hearts and prayers those who take risks to save life and property. May God bless the skills of craftsmen and women as they undertake the task of rebuilding.

“God our Father, let the community of Paris come together in this moment of difficulty and grace, to rebuild your house and do you honour, and so provide an enduring monument of how high the human spirit can soar in the face of adversity.

“As buildings crumble, may our faith be strong; from the ashes, may new fruit be born. Through the intercession of Our Lady of Paris, may all the people of France be filled with the peace and joy of Jesus Christ, risen for us at Easter. Amen.

“St Denis – Pray for us!”

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New funding for businesses to improve key areas of county

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A NEW pot of funding has been opened up to support regeneration, business growth and job creation in key priority areas across Carmarthenshire.

The Targeted Regeneration Investment (TRI) programme is part of a Welsh Government regional scheme to drive economic development in areas deemed most in need.

Areas chosen for investment in Carmarthenshire are Llanelli Town Centre and Station Road, and Ammanford Town Centre.

Businesses can apply for funding from two main thematic funding streams – a Property Enhancement Development Grant and Sustainable Living Grant.

Projects must promote economic regeneration – creating jobs, enhancing skills and employability and creating the right environment for businesses to grow and thrive.

A Property Enhancement Development Grant provides gap funding for owners or occupiers of vacant commercial buildings to enhance frontages and bring vacant commercial floor space back into use.

Where a local need has been identified, it could also fund development projects that create new commercial floor space.

A Sustainable Living Grant supports the conversion of vacant commercial space on upper floors into new homes. It can be used alongside the Property Enhancement Development Grant, and other initiatives, to encourage mixed-use regeneration of properties.

Cllr Emlyn Dole, Council Leader and Executive Board Member for Regeneration, met Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government Hannah Blythyn in Llanelli Town Centre recently to discuss the TRI programme and other ongoing improvements to the town.

He said: “This targeted investment has potential to make a real difference in Llanelli and Ammanford, and complements the council’s on-going efforts to regenerate these important towns.

“We are pleased to be part of this regional programme that will make the most of vacant commercial space and help improve the appearance and vibrancy of our town centres.”

Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government Hannah Blythyn said: “We want to support local businesses, grow our fantastic town centres and create job opportunities in Llanelli and Ammanford. Creating more good quality commercial and retail space will play a real part in this, as will creating homes in the centre of our towns, so people can live and work centrally and contribute to the local economy.

“This fund will help to create opportunities out of empty properties and attract more people to our town centres. I look forward to seeing some exciting refurbishments, and businesses growing and prospering across in Llanelli and Ammanford as a result.”

Any businesses or applicants interested, or with a deliverable project in the priority areas identified, should contact Carmarthenshire County Council’s Economic Development Team for an initial discussion.

Contact Economic Development Coordinator, Tessa Peregrine, on TPeregrine@carmarthenshire.gov.uk or 01554 748815.

More information is available on the business section of www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales.

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