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GP’s surgeries under pressure



Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 09.30.50THE HERALD has previously reported on the crisis in communities regarding a shortage of GPs and on changes to GP practices. 

Readers may remember the farcical situation at the Andrew Street and Dafen surgeries, where patients were locked out of their GP practice when the Board failed to reach an agreement with a retiring GP for the continuation of the service.

Most recently there have been a number of issues at the Kidwelly surgery.

Just on the border of Llanelli and Swansea, things are no different. The Talybont surgery in Pontarddulais has written to patients informing them of the problems they are having with GPs retiring or moving on and a shortage of GPs to fill the vacant positions. All this comes at a time when house building is racing ahead at an unprecedented level in the locality.


One hundred new homes are being built just down the road in Hendy and a further 750 homes are proposed to be built in Pontarddulais itself.

Across West Wales, GP practices face similar problems. The Argyle Medical Group in Pembrokeshire, the single largest GP practice in the county, has been forced to halt afternoon appointments in its Neyland and Pembroke surgeries due to a shortage of staff. In nearby Tenby, the GP practice has had to be provided with extra assistance from the local Health Board due to departures and retirements.

In Cardigan, there is a risk of a GP practice closing due to the retirement of the GP heading the practice, while across rural Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire, GP services are put under increasing strain by the shortage of trained GPs and the unwillingness of junior doctors to enter practice as GPs due to the unattractiveness of the role.

And all the time, councils give planning permission for more and more homes.


There are 1,200 new homes planned for the new development at Carmarthen West and yet, The Herald can report, not a single additional clinical resource or health service has been prepared or yet allocated for what could be a population increase of over 3,000 people in the area around Carmarthen town.

A spokesperson for the Health Board told The Herald: “The Health Board is reviewing the impact of the Carmarthen West development on local healthcare facilities, and work is on-going to consider future healthcare strategy around this.”

In Pontarddulais, people have taken to social media to highlight what they believe are some of the issues the community will face as a result of large scale housing developments at the same time as a crisis in health care and provision.

A dedicated Facebook page, Save the Bont, has drawn attention to the crisis and states: “With 750 new homes planned and according to the LDP, this figure does not take into account all the other proposed developments in the community. In all there are plans for approximately 1,000 new homes for the Bont.

“The doctors surgery has been struggling for some time to cope with the increased population and now that so many of the existing staff are leaving, it will be impossible to get the level of medical care we should have access to.

“As a community, we are already swamped with new dwellings leading to increased traffic and residents wanting to access all local amenities, including the doctors surgery and the three schools. None of the infrastructure has been modified to accommodate the hundreds of new homes that have been built over the last ten years.”


The town of Pontarddulais has been expanding rapidly over recent years as the council rubber stamp large scale housing sites. There are prospects of more homes being built in Kidwelly and Llanelli but it is unclear as to whether appropriate considerations are being given to modifying the infrastructure to cope with greater numbers of people in our communities.

Local authorities can charge a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) on new development in their area to support infrastructure needed by growth, such as improvements to roads, park/open space improvements or a new health provision.

The levy can be used to fund a wide range of infrastructure, including transport, flood defences, schools, hospitals, and other health and social care facilities – but not social housing. This definition allows the levy to be used to fund a very broad range of facilities such as play areas, parks and green spaces, cultural and sports facilities, academies and free schools, district heating schemes and police stations and other community safety facilities.

Local authorities must spend the levy on infrastructure needed to support the development of their area, and they will decide what infrastructure is needed. The levy is intended to focus on the provision of new infrastructure and should not be used to remedy pre-existing deficiencies in infrastructure provision unless those deficiencies will be made more severe by new development.


In Kidwelly, the town’s team of Labour Councillors – Cllr Ryan Thomas (the County Councillor for Kidwelly), Cllr Mike Thomas and Cllr Philip Thompson (both Kidwelly Town Councillors) – have taken action to try and address problems with their local GP practice.

Following the large number of concerns directly raised to them, the Councillors have set up a series of meetings with the surgery and Hywel Dda Health Board.

The first of these meetings attended by Ryan, Mike and Phil and Rachel Pompa, Head of General Medicine and Anne Jenkins, the Practice Manager of Meddygfa Minafon, took place on Friday, August 12.

Following the meeting, Councillors Ryan Thomas, Mike Thomas and Philip Thompson released the following statement: “As the local Labour Councillors for Kidwelly, we felt that we needed to bring the very real concerns of the local community about the provision of GP services, which are causing upset and distress to residents to the attention of the practice and Health Board.”

The Councillors raised a number of issues about triage services, the ending of the telephone repeat prescription services, and disabled access to Meddygfa Minafon. But the first concern raised was staffing: “Both we and the surgery agree that there is a staffing issue in that there should an establishment of five GPs.

“We are pleased that we had the opportunity to open dialogue with the surgery and Health Board and are committed in the coming meetings to continue raising the community’s issues with them and look forward to working together to improve the service and ensure the community gets the GP service it needs and deserves.”


At a time of national GP recruitment and retention challenges, the Health Board recognises the need to ensure care is provided by the most appropriate clinician available.

While recruitment campaign continues for GPs to work at the Kidwelly practice, a spokesperson for the Board told us: “Rising demand means that it is becoming increasingly important for a system of clinical triage and alternative means of consultation to be introduced. The Health Board is introducing new clinical roles into the General Practice, such as Advanced Nurse or Paramedic Practitioners, Prescribing Pharmacists, Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists. These clinicians can see appropriate patients based on their presenting needs. The Health Board is committed to ensuring that patients receive the clinical care they need.

“New patient services are planned to start at Minafon Surgery, Kidwelly, in September, which will include a Frailty Clinic, Physiotherapist sessions and a telephone triage service. This triage service will be provided by fully qualified GPs, and will aim to ensure patients have full access to a GP via a telephone consultation, and an opportunity to see a GP and other healthcare professionals face to face at the practice as appropriate.”

Rachel Pompa, Head of General Medical Services at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “Anne Jenkins, Practice Manager at Minafon Surgery, and I were pleased to have the opportunity to meet with Kidwelly Town Councillors on Friday August 12 to discuss the ongoing service provision at Meddygfa Minafon.

“While the practice is actively trying to recruit GPs, they have developed a more diverse way of treating patients, using highly skilled healthcare professionals, including an Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Advanced Paramedic Practitioner and Pharmacist, who works at the practice to deal with all medication queries.

“As soon as the plans for the new services are finalised, within the next 14 days, patients will be invited to join the University Health Board to discuss the service in more detail and to fully explain the roles of all staff working at the practice.

“We will be writing to all patients with details of venues, dates and times in the next few weeks and we would welcome discussion.”

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Ascona Group announces new Car and Truck wash facilities



Charlie's Truck Wash

ASCONA GROUP, one of the UK’s fastest-growing forecourt operators, is pleased to announce two new vehicle washing partnerships as part of improvements to its unique roadside retail proposition across its forecourt estate.

As part of a new partnership with the American based PDQ Manufacturing, a leader for in-bay automatic vehicle washing facilities, Ascona Group will be the first in the UK to install the ‘Laserwash 360 Plus’, a touchless car wash system for its customers.

The partnership will initially expand the wash options at the Hinton Service Station, with a view to roll out the system to other sites under the Ascona Group’s brand, ‘Charlie’s Express Car Wash’ later this year. The partnership is a significant investment for Ascona and demonstrates its commitment to ever improving the experience for customers.

Ascona Group is also delighted to announce a strategic partnership with WashTec UK that will see Ascona introduce a ‘First of its Kind’ truck washing facility at the Tenby Road site on the A40 Eastbound in Carmarthenshire, which offers the very best technology available to HGV drivers.

The truck wash employs a fully ‘closed loop’ total water recycling system, the first of its kind in Wales, which recovers all water used within the wash process, filtering it for reuse with little or no water entering the mains drainage system. This system ensures Ascona not only has the best commercial wash in South Wales, but also offers customers one of the more environmentally friendly approaches in operation.

Commenting on the announcement, CEO Darren Briggs said: “From the very beginning, we knew that our sites must present our customers with a unique and compelling offer which is why we are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to improve our roadside retail facilities.

“These two new partnerships further demonstrate our focus on creating industry-leading propositions and we are really excited to be working with PDQ Manufacturing USA and WashTec UK. Together, we are keen to continue to build on the success of these new operations and we are actively reviewing multiple opportunities across the Ascona portfolio to roll out more units such as these.”

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Nearly £50,000 of National Lottery funding for community groups in Carmarthenshire



FIVE local community organisations across Carmarthenshire are celebrating after being awarded a share of £49,575 of funding from The National Lottery Community Fund over the past month.

One successful project was MolTân Makers who will use their £9,820 grant to provide metal working workshops for people wishing to improve their mental health and well-being. The group will reach out to mental health groups and the wider community and also allow people to reconnect with the community following the pandemic.

One participant with MolTân Makers explained, “ The course was professionally run by four hard-working people who helped us with one to one tuition when needed. They were so welcoming and adaptable to individual needs and allowed me to attend the course at different hours due to health reasons.

“They were great company and created an interesting and positive atmosphere to help people with mental and physical health problems feel included and understood and we all took home what we made in the course.”

The Hangout received £10,000 and will help young people improve their mental health and wellbeing through structured outdoor activity programmes. The project will build on a previous pilot project that led to more young people becoming re-engaged in school following the pandemic and continuing to volunteer with the group after the initial sessions finished.

The Alternative Learning Company in Llanelli were awarded £9,955 and will recycle plastic bottles to build full size greenhouses. They will propagate plants for growing schemes in local schools and communities. The project will reduce the levels of plastic sent to landfill or polluting open spaces, and give young people an understanding of the impact of climate change.

Newcastle Emlyn Town Council will build an outdoor structure in collaboration with the community, to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Jubilee. This £10,000 grant will fund building and design materials, and a water harvesting kit.

Messy Projects will use their £9,800 grant to run the activities and events they missed due to the pandemic. Activities will include celebrating the Queens platinum jubilee, a BBQ, and a Bonfire party.

John Rose, Wales Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said “These groups play a vital role in supporting their communities and these grants will allow them to continue being there for people in future. 

 ”National Lottery players raise more than £30 million each week for good causes across the UK and the projects funded over the past month show the crucial difference players make through their tickets. I look forward to following all of their progress.”  

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Family of power station worker calls on former colleagues to help with asbestos claim



THE WIFE of a Carmarthenshire man, who was just 66 when he died of an asbestos-related cancer, is calling on colleagues who worked with him in the 1970s to help understand where and how he contracted the disease.

Peter Colton, from Llanelli, died in July 2021 after being diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma.

He worked as a conveyor and weighbridge operator for the CEGB at Carmarthen Bay Power Station. During his time at the power station, his duties included offloading coal wagons and conveying coal to the boilers.

It is possible that Mr Colton was exposed to asbestos during those years and now his family has sought the help of local asbestos specialists J.M Parsons, to investigate a claim for compensation.

Ann Colton, Mr Colton’s wife, wants answers. She said: “Peter was diagnosed with mesothelioma and died just six weeks later. He had been suffering from shortness of breath and just had no quality of life.

“It was devastating to see someone who had been so healthy and active slowly get worse and worse. We just want to know where and how he was exposed to asbestos and hope someone out there can help us.”

According to data from the Health and Safety Executive, annual mesothelioma deaths in Britain increased steeply over the last 50 years, a consequence of mainly occupational asbestos exposures that occurred because of the widespread industrial use of asbestos during 1950-1980.

Amanda Jones is one of the specialists at J.M Parsons, which is owned by Thompsons Solicitors. Thompsons has paved the way for asbestos litigation in the UK ever since it brought about the first successful asbestos disease claim to the House of Lords in 1972, 50 years ago.

She said: “We would be grateful to hear from anyone who remembers working with Peter Colton in Carmarthen Bay Power Station in the 1970s or anyone who worked in the same field as Peter beyond the 1970s.

“Such individuals will be invaluable to Mr Colton’s family as they may be able to add important information that will assist us in building a civil claim. We hope that we will then be able to answer questions about the conditions that Mr Colton worked in during his working life.”

Anyone with information should contact Amanda Jones on 01554 779940, or via email at

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