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Call for care homes to be given top priority amid ‘totally unacceptable’ testing shambles



A SOCIAL care leader has hit out over the “totally unacceptable” shambles around Covid-19 tests and called for Hywel Dda Health Board care homes to be given top priority.

Mario Kreft MBE, the chair of Care Forum Wales, the lack of capacity and the delays in providing results were causing major problems for the sector, potentially putting lives at risk.

In too many cases, he said, the results were not coming back and contacts being traced within the “golden 48-hour window” when the tests proved positive.

As a result, the regime was ineffective in curbing the spread of Covid-19 which was a massive worry as a second surge now seemed inevitable, with two local lockdowns in place in Wales and more likely to follow.

He was concerned that lessons has not been learned from the first wave of coronavirus when Care Forum Wales had been ahead of the Welsh Government and Public Health Wales in urging care homes to close their doors to visitors.

In February the organisation, which represents nearly 500 social care providers in Wales, launched a campaign to shield social care to save lives.

As part of the campaign, Care Forum Wales also called for a comprehensive and effective testing regime, plentiful supplies of PPE and extra funding to help providers to survive the economic cataclysm.

Mr Kreft said: “The UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, is right, we should absolutely be prioritising our care homes.

“There are a number of new quick test technologies undergoing validation. We are calling for a Welsh Government commitment to ensure they are made available to care homes as a matter of urgency as soon as they come online. Care homes must get them before airports, schools, and factories.

“We would also like an assurance that the machines already pre-ordered are prioritised for care homes.

“Care Forum Wales started this discussion in February when we were talking about the importance of testing for social care because the sector underpins the NHS here in Wales and enabled it to function.

“The current situation we’ve got it just totally unacceptable. It’s not the case that everyone isn’t trying hard but we’re not actually achieving what we need to do.

“They did adjust the access to the testing but in far too many cases we’re not getting the results quickly enough and that is causing huge problems in the sector.

“We’ve got this 48 hour golden window to ensure that we stop transmission.

“We’ve got tens of thousands of people working in our care homes in Wales. They’re coming in and out from the community.

“We know we’ve already got local lockdowns in the communities so have to make sure that people if they are asymptomatic in particular have got regular tests and that the results come through quickly so we know whether or not they have the virus.

“This disease which for many people might be quite mild is an absolutely horrendous disease for older people, people with underlying health conditions, and of course the 20,000 people in our care homes in Wales are by definition vulnerable and many of them have serious underlying health conditions.

“Our members in Care Forum Wales locked down early, way before government advice.

“We really got ahead of the game but had to make sure there was a testing regime. “There is a great news story about many care homes in Wales. Most of them have been Covid free, and those that have had the virus have been able to in most cases to deal with it and eradicate it quickly.

“What we’ve seen as lockdown has eased is that the defences have been weakend, making it easier for that transmission to come in.

“We’ve got to make sure that our care homes are protected and that’s why we launched our campaign, Shield Social Care, Save Lives.

“It’s been running for months, and it will have to run for the whole winter, because our care homes and the NHS are facing the biggest challenge we’ve ever seen. It really is a hideous situation.

“Prioritising certain sectors like social care is an absolute must. This is a safeguarding issue, for the vulnerable people living in the care homes and the magnificent staff who look after them.

“Care homes are vital to ensure that the NHS can function. Most of our hospitals have a population of older people which is probably about 60 or 70 per cent of the total patients.

“Those people have to be discharged. Our care homes need to be ready and available and they can’t do that without a regime of testing that is delivering what we need in Wales.”

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Boris Johnson expected to resign as Prime Minister today



THE PRIME MINISTER, Boris Johnson is expected to tender his resignation today, according to sources close to Number 10.

Less than a month on from surviving a leadership challenge, the PM’s premiership will come to an end after senior ministers were among those to quit the government in protest at Downing Street’s handling of a series of recent scandals.

The latest of these being Mr Johnson promoting Chris Pincher to the role of deputy chief whip in February despite being told of a sexual misconduct complaint against the Tamworth MP in 2019.

On Tuesday, the PM apologised for allowing this job move to take place – but this did not stop the resignations of both his health secretary Sajid Javid and chancellor Rishi Sunak minutes later.

By Thursday morning, more than 50 Conservative MPs had resigned from their government roles.

Commenting on the news that the Prime Minister will be resigning today as Conservative Party Leader, Andrew RT Davies MS, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd, said: “I’ve always said it was essential for the Prime Minister to hold the confidence of our country, party and parliament. Clearly, that is no longer the case.

“Boris Johnson’s legacy will always be that he ended the deadlock and got Brexit done, delivering on the will of the British people.

“As well as securing a historic victory in 2019, Boris ensured our return to freedom out of the Covid-19 pandemic. Regrettably, it has now become very difficult for him to deliver on the mandate he secured.

“As a friend and supporter of the Prime Minister, I recognise his achievements over the last three years. It now falls to the Conservative Party to select a new leader to deliver on our manifesto commitments for the remainder of this parliament.

“I wish him, Carrie and the rest of his family all the best for the future and thank him for his service to our country.”

Reacting to the resignation of the Prime Minister Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said:

“Finally this whole sorry and undignified saga has come to an end. It was always abundantly clear that Boris Johnson was unfit to be Prime Minister and those that backed him to the hilt have a responsibility for the mess and destruction he and his brand of populism has had on our country.

“The Welsh public won’t forgive so many Welsh Conservative MPs for propping up Boris Johnson for so long against various scandals while at the same time ordinary families were struggling to cope with the cost-of-living crisis.

“Johnson or no Johnson, for many former Conservative voters the party they once knew is beyond redemption and will not be coming back.”

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Werndale Hospital recognised for outstanding patient care in national award



STAFF at Werndale Hospital near Carmarthen have been recognised for the quality of their patient care. 

The prestigious ‘Private Hospital Group of the Year’ award is presented to an organisation that has shown excellence in its delivery of care, commitment to the community and innovation within healthcare.

Werndale Hospital was also recognised for their initiatives to support staff in their career progression and wellbeing.   

The latest statistics show, 98% of patients at Werndale Hospital were satisfied with their overall level of care, 98% of patients would recommend their care to family and friends, and 98% of patients rated the nursing staff as excellent or very good. 

In addition, independent analysis of Circle hospitals’ hip and knee procedure outcomes of health improvement shows that Circle scored 8.4 versus an independent sector average of 7.8 in the hip category, and a score of 15.4 versus an independent sector average of 13.9 in the knee category.   

The award presented to Circle Health Group, owners of Werndale Hospital, in London in June, also noted the extraordinary contribution the teams at the hospital had made to the community. 

In 2021 alone, Werndale Hospital partnered with Air Ambulance Wales and raised £1,205 to support the charity’s work in the community.  

In addition to the charitable work, Werndale Hospital was recognised for it’s commitment to support staff through a series of wellbeing initiatives and career development opportunities. The judges were particularly impressed with the launch of the ‘Be Heard’ survey at the hospital.   

The survey looks to empower staff to feedback on everything from the working environment at the hospital through to their own career ambitions. Building directly on the feedback from this survey, the ‘Grow Your Own’ campaign was launched which supported staff to work towards specific qualifications from nursing degrees with partnered universities through to bespoke management programmes and MBA qualifications.   

As a direct result of this support for staff at what is a challenging time for healthcare workers, Werndale Hospital and Circle Heath Group were recognised as being a Top 20 Best Large Company to work for.   

At the heart of Werndale Hospital’s approach to treating patients is a commitment to the community they serve.  

 Paolo Pieri, CEO of Circle Health Group, said:  “The award is a testament to what an amazing year 2021 was for Werndale Hospital with considerable investment into the facilities and services on offer to patients in west Wales. I couldn’t be prouder of what our staff and doctors have achieved.”  

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Aberglasney Gardens delighted to win 2022 Trip advisor Travellers’ Choice Award



ABERGLASNEY Gardens is thrilled to have been recognised by Tripadvisor as a 2022 Travellers’ Choice Award winner for being in the top 10% of attractions worldwide.

The Award recognises businesses that consistently deliver great service with the Gardens being rated ‘Excellent’ by 342 visitors.

The award celebrates businesses that have received great traveller reviews from around the globe on Tripadvisor over the last 12 months. As challenging as the past year has been, Aberglasney stood out by consistently delivering positive experiences to visitors.

Aberglasney’s Director of Operations Jim Stribling said: “We are delighted to have once again won an award from Tripadvisor. It is fantastic recognition for the team’s hard work and dedication. To rank among the top ten percent of those listed on Trip Advisor as one of the best places to visit is outstanding.

“We are grateful to all those who take the time to leave us a review after visiting. It is no cliché when I say all the team, be it in the gift shop, the gardeners, the tearooms and the administrative team, all take the reviews on board to help make a visit to Aberglasney the best possible experience for everyone.”

Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel guidance platform, helps hundreds of millions of people each month become better travellers, from planning, to booking, to taking a trip. Travelers across the globe use the Tripadvisor site and app to discover where to stay, what to do and where to eat based on guidance from those who have been there before.

With more than 988 million reviews and opinions of nearly eight million businesses, travellers turn to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodation, book experiences, reserve tables at restaurants and discover great places nearby.

As a travel guidance company available in 43 markets and 22 languages, Tripadvisor makes planning easy no matter the trip type.

“Congratulations to the 2022 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Winners,” said Kanika Soni, Chief Commercial Officer at Tripadvisor. “The Travellers’ Choice Awards recognise the best in tourism and hospitality, according to those who matter most: your guests.

“Ranking among the Travellers’ Choice winners is always tough – but never more so than this year as we emerge from the pandemic. Whether it’s using new technology, implementing safety measures, or hiring outstanding staff, I’m impressed by the steps you’ve taken to meet travellers’ new demands. You’ve adapted brilliantly in the face of adversity.”

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