PLAID CYMRU candidate Dr Rhys Thomas has sacrificed his immediate political ambitions to concentrate on his ground-breaking work in treating Covid patients.
Dr Thomas, a senior consultant and former army medic with the rank of Lt. Colonel who served in many conflict zones, has been on the front line against the virus since the outbreak of the pandemic.
As that relentless fight continues, he’s stepped down as Plaid candidate for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire in the coming Senedd elections in May.
Dr Rhys Thomas said: “As one who believes passionately in Plaid Cymru’s vision for Wales, it’s been a very difficult decision. But as a doctor in these incredibly challenging times, I’ve had to dedicate all my time and energy to develop new ways of combating Covid-19. “I hope my time to serve Wales as a politician will come again in future, but for now I have to serve my country as a clinician.”
As Dr Rhys Thomas steps down, Cefin Campbell, a highly respected and experienced Carmarthenshire county councillor, has been selected to fight the constituency in May. He’s also number one on the Plaid Cymru candidate list for Mid and West Wales. Cefin Campbell lives in the Tywi Valley and is married to Mari, a recently retired district nursing sister. They have three daughters.
Cllr Campbell is the member for Rural Affairs and Communities on Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board. He chaired the action group which drew up a 55-point plan to regenerate rural areas, centred on ten small market towns, including Whitland, St Clears and Laugharne, as well as the Anti-poverty panel which instigated a multi-million-pound strategy to tackle poverty in one of the poorest council wards in Wales.
He led on the working group which published an action plan supporting Carmarthenshire’s target to be net -ero carbon by 2030 – the first council in Wales to declare a climate emergency.
He also chaired a cross-party group looking at ways of combating racism and discrimination. Last month, he successfully persuaded the county council to accept a Notice of Motion calling on Welsh Government to legislate to restrict the damaging proliferation of second homes.
Cefin Campbell said: “I care passionately about the future of rural areas, the environment, decent housing and jobs for our young people in towns and villages, and tackling the poverty which exists in both urban and rural communities. I’ve dedicated much of my life during recent years to leading on action plans to address these issues.
“For far too long, this corner of Wales has been forgotten and neglected by the Conservative UK Government in London and the Labour Welsh Government in Cardiff. If elected, I’d fight tooth and nail to remedy that.”
Commenting on Cefin Campbell’s candidature, Dr Rhys Thomas said: “I’ve known Cefin for many years. He’s a very astute, enthusiastic, energetic, and intelligent person, with an incredible range of knowledge in so many fields. He’s a great communicator and would make an excellent and formidable Member of the Senedd.”
Possible super-hospital plans released as Pembrokeshire site ruled out
HYWEL Dda Health Board have reduced the number of potential sites for the new “super-hospital” in West Wales from five to three.
The new site has been narrowed down to two possible locations in Whitland or one in St Clears.
According to the plans provided in Hywel Dda’s technical appraisal reports, all sites will include a main building divided into planned and urgent care, as well as a separate facility for mental health services. Parking, administrative facilities, and a helipad are also planned.
The potential Narberth site is no longer being considered, meaning that the new hospital would be built outside of Pembrokeshire.
Hywel Dda presented the findings of a “transport infrastructure analysis,” stating that both sites had bus services that are “infrequent” and “short,” making shift work difficult.
For Whitland, it noted that there was an approximate 750m walking distance from the train station to the hospital site, with recommended walking distance of 400m, and that local roads do ‘not appear’ to suffer from significant congestion during a typical weekday.
In St Clears, the report highlighted the impact a planned new railway station – expected to open in 2024 – could have on the town, saying it would be a ‘major boost’ to the area providing viable alternative car travel, with it being understood there is a commitment to increase the frequency of services at some stations along the west Wales line from two hourly to hourly.
After it was announced that Narberth would not be the site of the new hospital, Hywel Dda University Health Board Chair, Maria Battle, assured the residents of Pembrokeshire that their concerns would be taken into account.
“Our programme business case to the Welsh Government is seeking the greatest investment west Wales will have ever seen,” said Ms Battle.
“We have listened to and continue to listen to the fears and voices of the public we serve and our staff who understand the frontline challenges of trying to deliver services across so many sites and spread so thinly.
“Recognising the fragility of our services and the risk this poses every day, we do not intend to make changes at Glangwili or Withybush hospitals before a new hospital is built. And afterwards, they will continue to provide valuable health services to our communities.”
New ward extension opens at Werndale Hospital
WERNDALE Hospital opens its £1millon ward extension, featuring a suite of new spacious patient en-suite rooms and additional light and airy ward space for new nurses’ stations, new technology and medical equipment, in pleasant and comfortable spaces.
Werndale is part of Circle Health Group, the UK’s largest provider of private healthcare. The group is carrying out a £125 million redevelopment programme across its 50 hospitals in the UK.
Werndale has a strong history in the village of Bancyfelin, where is has been serving the local communities of Wales for over 32 years.
James Davies, Wales and Scarlets rugby player, from Bancyfelin, cut the ribbon to mark the official opening on Monday 1st August. His nickname “Cubby”, is reference to his brother’s nickname, “Fox”; this refers to the Fox & Hounds pub their parents ran in Bancyfelin, the village where they grew up. Staff and consultants were given the chance to view the new extension, with a small gathering to mark the occasion and celebrate all the hard work that has gone into this project over the last 12 months.
Jacky Jones, Executive Director of Werndale Hospital said: “The investment programme is an exciting opportunity to expand what we can offer to patients at Werndale. Our staff and consultants are delighted with this expansion which will allow us to meet the private healthcare needs of patients and families in Wales and will decrease waiting times which will positively impact the patient’s experience. Having the new patient rooms here increases our ward capacity by 20%, it is a great investment”.
Gaynor Llewellyn, Director of Clinical Services said: “At Werndale we are committed to continuous improvement of clinical facilities and services. We continually invest in the hospital so that we can offer our patients and consultants reassurance when they visit us for treatments”.
Werndale Hospital is seeing increased demand for its services across all specialities particularly orthopaedic surgery, ophthalmology, and general surgery. Nearly 4,000 patients had surgery at Werndale Hospital, Bancyfelin during 2021 and the new investment will enable ward capacity to be increased by 25 per cent.
Help shape the future of third sector services in Carmarthenshire
RESIDENTS are being asked for their views to help shape the future of third sector services in Carmarthenshire.
The third sector includes a range of different organisations, such as charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups that deliver essential services to a wide range of residents, helping to improve people’s health and wellbeing.
Carmarthenshire County Council is looking to change the way it commissions third sector services to make it simpler and easier for residents to access, and to enhance the quality of support and activities provided by focusing on what is important to local people.
Changes that had to be made as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are being looked at as an opportunity to build on the positive work that has been carried out and to identify what services are needed for the future.
A public consultation exercise is underway to gather people’s views to help plan and deliver a new community-based service model which will meet the needs of communities.
The council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Social Services Cllr Jane Tremlett said: “The council has a long-standing, valued relationship with the third sector which plays an important role in helping to improve people’s wellbeing
“Our discussions have highlighted that there is a wealth of knowledge, experience and skills within organisations, particularly in relation to the lived experience of service users and what matters to them.
“It is important that we continue to work together to deliver modern, high-quality services that meet the needs of the communities we serve.
“This consultation will help us to identify what services are needed in the future and where, and how people would like to access them.”
Visit the consultation pages on the council website before August 26 to have your say. Paper copies are also available from the council’s customer service Hwbs in Llanelli, Carmarthen and Ammanford, and a number of face-to-face events are being held over the summer to engage directly with residents. For more information, please visit carmarthenshire.gov.wales/consultations
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