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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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Carmarthen: Police appeal following death of 31-year-old Harry Lloyd

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THE INVESTIGATION is continuing into the death of 31-year-old Harry Lloyd who had suffered serious injuries at Francis Terrace, Carmarthen and later died at hospital.

There is still a police presence at the property and enquiries being made in the local area.

We were called to an incident at an address in Francis Terrace, Carmarthen at around 9.50am on Wednesday, February 20.

Enquiries are on-going to establish the cause of death.

A 28-year-old-woman arrested on suspicion of GBH remains in police custody.

Here’s a tribute from Harry’s family: “We are absolutely devastated by the loss of our son, brother, nephew, cousin and friend.

“Harry was a very popular, beautiful, gentle soul who will be missed.

“Please allow us to grieve this terrible loss in private.”

The police have asked that anyone with information that can help officers with their investigation is asked to report it by phoning 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number: 07811 311 908. Use reference: DP-20190220-098

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Care home told staff not to speak Welsh

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THERE is an investigation taking place after it was revealed that a care home had warned members of staff about speaking Welsh.

Isfryn in Ystradgynlais has Approved Headway Provider status and provides rehabilitation and support for individuals with an acquired brain injury. It has been revealed that staff were told that it would be unacceptable if clients heard employees conversing in a language they did not understand. The Accomplish Group, which runs Isfryn, has announced that it was reviewing the issue.

The Welsh Language Commissioner, Meri Huws said: “If two or more people wish to speak or write to each other in Welsh in Wales, they have the freedom to do so, in accordance with the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011.

“If someone, such as an employer, tells them that that they should not continue to use the Welsh language, they are possibly interfering with that freedom. The Welsh Language Measure gives me as Commissioner statutory powers to investigate such cases.

“From the evidence I have seen today, it appears there may be an interference with staff’s freedom to use Welsh at Isfryn, Accomplish. I will be contacting the organisation to gather more information in order to understand the situation fully. I would also like to encourage anyone affected to get in touch with my office to enable us to investigate the matter fully.”

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Plans to partially re-open Cwmduad road following landslide

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s highways team hopes to partially re-open the A484 at Cwmduad in March, following extensive work to clear and make the area safe after a landslide.

The council has been leading a highly complex operation to clear the highway and stabilise the land since October, when the landslide tragically claimed the life of a young man.

Works are progressing well, and providing things continue to go to plan, the council hopes to re-open a single lane on March 18.

To date, the operation has involved extensive clearance and reinstatement of land off the highway, with the creation of a 10 metre buffer zone; construction of a ramp from the highway to the river, to aid the recovery of lorry that was swept in with the force of the landslide; and clearance of silt from the highway.

Work currently underway includes the construction of highway support and reinstatement of the bank to the east of the highway, as well as highway drainage clearance and reinstatement.

The final stage of works – which will take place alongside the single carriageway opening – will involve rebuilding a parapet wall alongside the highway, before the road can be fully re-opened.

Ruth Mullen, Director of Environment for Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “We are pleased that works have progressed well, and we can now plan for the partial re-opening of the road.

“We are grateful for the support from the community during a prolonged and difficult period. It has been a complex project and we have continued to be mindful of the sensitivities both locally and within the community where one person tragically lost their life.

“Whilst we have worked at pace to enable the highway to be reopened as quickly as possible, the safety of the public has always been our primary focus.”

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