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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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Community

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

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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

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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 amanda@jmplaw.co.uk.

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Business

Carmarthenshire cheese maker secures Co-op listing

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Caws Cenarth award

A CHEESEMAKER from Carmarthenshire has secured its first listing with the Co-op as part of the retailer’s continued focus on local and community sourcing.

Family-owned Caws Cenarth, which has cheese making in the family dating back to 1903, will now see two of its cheeses listed in more than 20 Co-op stores across the region.

Made on farm in Glyneithinog, Caws Cenarth will supply Co-op with its Organic Caerffili – which has a light and lemony taste with hints of sea salt – and, one of its best known cheeses the Organic Perl Las Mini – which is described as a blue cheese, golden in colour, with a creamy, gently salty taste that grows stronger with maturity.

Carwyn Adams, whose parents rekindled the family tradition for cheese making in 1987 with the creation of Caws Cenarth, said: “We are absolutely thrilled. I shop in our local Co-op and regularly thought how nice it would be to see our cheese on the shelf and, now that is to become a reality. Working with Co-op will support our business development, and raise awareness of our cheeses, not only across the region, but also further afield as visitors to the area often look for local produce to take back home with them as gifts or to remind them of their stay in the area.”

Jo Wadsworth, Co-op’s Community Buying Manager, said: “We are delighted to welcome Caws Cenarth onto our shelves. We know that our Members and customers value the quality and provenance of locally produced food and drink and, here at the Co-op we are focussed on supporting local suppliers as part of our commitment to creating value and making a difference in our local communities.”

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