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GP’s surgeries under pressure

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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.

IF YOU BUILD IT, GPS WON’T COME 

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.

NO CARE YET FOR CARMARTHEN WEST 

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.”

PONTARDDULAIS: EXPANSION AT ANY COST? 

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.

KIDWELLY COUNCILLORS ACT 

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.”

NOT ONLY A WEST WALIAN PROBLEM

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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Llandeilo gas works to begin say Wales & West Utilities

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WALES & West Utilities will shortly begin work to upgrade gas pipes in Llandeilo.

Wales & West Utilities has liaised with Carmarthenshire County Council to plan the work and it has been agreed that work will commence after the town has celebrated the Festival of Senses.

The £123,000 investment scheme, which is essential to keep the gas flowing safely to heat and power local homes and businesses, will begin in New Road on 21 November. This section of work will be complete before Christmas and Wales & West Utilities will return to the town next year to undertake further work in the Crescent Road area. Barring any engineering difficulties, work in the town will be complete by the end of February next year.

Wales & West Utilities Adam Smith is managing this gas pipe upgrade work. He said: “Working with the Council, we have planned this work to accommodate the needs of the town.

“While most of the gas network is underground and out of sight, it plays a central role in the daily lives of people across Llandeilo. Whether it’s heating your home, making the family dinner or having a hot bath, we understand how important it is for your gas supply to be safe and reliable and there when you need it.

“We know that working in areas like this is not ideal, but it really is essential to make sure we keep the gas flowing to homes and businesses in the area, and to make sure the gas network is fit for the future. We’ll have a team of gas engineers on site throughout the project to make sure our work is completed as safely and as quickly as possible while keeping disruption to a minimum.

“This work is essential to keep the gas flowing to local homes and businesses today, and to make sure the gas network is ready to transport hydrogen and biomethane, so we can all play our part in a green future.”

Our Customer Service Team is ready to take your call if you have any questions about our work. You can contact them on freephone 0800 912 2999.

Alternatively, you can contact us on Twitter @WWUtilities or Facebook.com/WWUtilities.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night. Before visiting, we’ll ask you to let us know if you or anyone in your household, is experiencing Coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating. We’ll still come and help you: but our teams will take some additional precautions to keep us all safe.

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Police appeal following theft of items from Home Bargains Crosshands

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OFFICERS from Dyfed Powys Police have confirmed that they are investigating the theft of items, including a Christmas Nutcracker Ornament valued at £129.99, from the Home Bargains store in Crosshands, Carmarthenshire.

The theft occurred at about 12:40pm on Tuesday, 27th September 2022.

Officers have carried out all possible lines of enquiry, and are now appealing for help from the public.

They would like to identify the people in the CCTV image, who may have information that could help the investigation.

Anyone who knows who the people are, or if you believe you are pictured, contact Dyfed-Powys Police.

This can also be done either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk or phoning 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Please quote reference DPP/2006/27/09/2022/02/C

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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Witness appeal after car is stolen and burnt out

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is investigating the theft of a car from a property in Lando Road, Burry Port, which was later found burnt out in Pembrey Country Park.

Officers are appealing for witnesses to the theft of the blue Ssangyong Rexton, which took place sometime between 5pm on Friday, 11th November, and 9am on Saturday, 12th November, and would like to speak to anyone who may have information or CCTV or dashcam footage.

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Quote reference: DP-20221112-109

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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