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All local hospitals to become smoke-free from March

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PEOPLE living across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire are being reminded that today marks just two weeks until all hospital grounds in the three counties become smoke-free.

New laws, being introduced across Wales on Monday 1st March, build on the smoking ban introduced in 2007, and will result in all parts of Glangwili, Bronglais, Withybush and Prince Philip hospitals becoming smoke-free.

The law will also apply to all other Health Board run facilities.

The move is part of a national drive to create a healthier Wales and healthier future by protecting everyone from harmful, second-hand smoke, supporting those trying to quit, as well as reducing the normalisation of smoking, which is why the smoke-free law includes schools, public playgrounds, and outdoor areas of children’s daycare and childminding settings.

Anyone found breaking the law by smoking on these grounds could face a £100 fine.

Ros Jervis, Director of Public Health at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “This is great news for people in the three counties and Wales as a whole. Preventing people smoking on our hospital grounds will promote healthier care environments, protect hospital users from harmful second-hand smoke and support those using NHS services to quit.”

“We know the harms smoking can do to health, so I look forward to having the backing of our staff, patients and visitors, to ensure we all play our part in building a healthier Wales for the future.

Many smokers have already been motivated to give up smoking due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it is hoped this new legislation will encourage even more to do so. We have learnt that smoking can increase the risk of contracting COVID-19 and also the severity of the disease.

Quitting with support provides the best chance of stopping smoking for good, which is why we are making smoking support services available to those who would like help.

The Hywel Dda Healthy Lifestyle and Wellbeing Team (Smoking) can provide expert and confidential NHS behavioural support and access to medication to help stop smoking or access to stop smoking medication.  Support is currently provided via telephone.  The service can be contacted via 0300 303 9652, which is a freephone number.

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Health

Coronavirus cases in Wales still lowest in UK says Health Minister

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WALES continues to have the lowest rate of coronavirus cases in the UK, Welsh Health Minister Eluned Morgan said today. 

The minister said the number of confirmed cases in Wales is currently 9.3 per 100,000 people. 

Eluned Morgan said: “The number of people in hospital with coronavirus is at the lowest level since the start of the pandemic.  We have recently seen a period of 10 days where no new deaths from the virus were recorded – sadly Public Health Wales reported one death yesterday.

“These achievements reflect the hard work of people throughout Wales to keep themselves and their families safe.

“Over recent weeks we have however seen very troubling developments in relation to the so-called India variant of concern – or as the World Health Organisation has re-named it, the delta variant.  This is further proof that coronavirus has not gone away. 

“We have been carefully monitoring this new variant, which appears to be spreading in many parts of England.   We have identified a growing number of cases here in Wales, including a large cluster of cases in Conwy which is under close investigation.  

“This delta variant has the potential to become the next dominant strain of the virus in the UK.  We hope we can contain cases and prevent this variant spreading further but we expect the number of cases in Wales will continue to increase.

“Whilst the public health situation therefore remains good in Wales, the delta variant brings a new level of uncertainty.  It was in this context the most recent review of the coronavirus restrictions took place on 3 June. 

“Whilst Wales is moving to alert level one as previously signalled, we will now do this in a phased way.  

“Changes to the regulations from 7 June therefore focused on easing restriction on outdoor events and activities.  The risk of transmission is much lower outdoors and these changes will allow people to take advantage of the summer.”

Up to 30 people can now meet outdoors, including in private gardens, outdoor hospitality and public places.

Larger outdoor organised gatherings and events for up to 4,000 people standing and 10,000 people seated can also now take place.  This includes concerts, football matches and sporting activities, like organised running groups. All organisers must undertake a full risk assessment and put in place measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including social distancing.

Finally, provision now allows for extended household to be made up of three households who can meet and have contact indoors.  This is an increase from two households previously. 

We will consider further changes to the regulations on indoor activity later in the month, if public health conditions allow.   In line with the coronavirus control plan, at alert level one this would mean the rule of six would apply for meeting indoors in private homes and in holiday accommodation.

We will also consider increasing numbers for indoor organised gatherings and restarting indoor events.

This phased approach will provide time for more data on the impact of the delta variant to become available.  It will also allow time for more people to be vaccinated, which remains our best route out of the pandemic.

I am extremely grateful to Health Board vaccination teams, local partners and the many volunteers across the country for the incredible progress of our vaccination programme. 

At this rate, and subject to supply, we expect to have offered all adults 18 and over their first dose by early next week and to have hit our 3rd milestone of an uptake of 75% in all of the age ranges by the end of June, a month earlier than expected.  In reality, the percentage of people who have taken up their offer of a vaccine is far higher, which was always our aim.

We are currently recognised as the world Leader amongst countries over 1 million inhabitants.  We have vaccinated more than 86.5% of the adult population with their first dose and nearly half have completed the two-dose course.

Yesterday I published an update to our COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy. 

The updated strategy looks back at what has been achieved to date and sets out preparations for what comes next, potentially including a booster for our most vulnerable citizens and a vaccine for children and young people. We are also planning to reoffer the vaccine to those who did not take up the original offer. The roll out of second doses will also continue.

To underpin this delivery, an online system will be established in the Autumn to allow people to book appointments convenient for them. This system could potentially be used for other vaccinations moving forward.

Wales’ successful Test, Trace, Protect service was established a year ago.  The Welsh Government has allocated an additional £32m to health boards and local authorities to extend contact tracing until the end of March 2022. This increases the total Welsh Government investment in contact tracing this financial year to £92m.

On 2 June we also published a refreshed Test, Trace, Protect strategy setting out how the service will adapt and respond to the pandemic in the months ahead.   This includes strengthening and enhance the tracing of variants of concern, as well as the management and quarantine of people returning to Wales from red and amber-list countries.

On 20 May I set-out plans for a £100m investment to kick-start the health and care system’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This money will provide for new equipment, staff, technology and ways of working to help health boards increase capacity and cut waiting times. 

As we begin resuming non-emergency care following the pandemic we have an opportunity to create a health and care system fit for the future.

Following the three week review of the restrictions on international travel, we are following the same traffic-light approach to international travel as the rest of the UK.

From today Portugal has been moved from green to the amber list. This decision follows increased concern in the spread of variants, including a mutation of the Delta variant, and the risk posed of bringing these back to the UK if people are not required to quarantine. 

Seven countries have also been added to the red list, including Egypt and Sri Lanka.

I have today described some of the most recent developments in our ongoing efforts to tackle coronavirus.   It remains vital we continue to work together to keep each other safe and to keep Wales safe.

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Carmarthenshire stroke survivor Dave in TV appeal for Stroke Association

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Dave Jones pictured soon after his stroke

A STROKE survivor from Carmarthenshire has appeared on TV with EastEnders star Rudolph Walker to raise money for the charity which helped him rebuild his life.

In the BBC1 Lifeline fundraising appeal Dave Jones, from Tycroes, near Ammanford, said the support he had received from the Stroke Association had been “invaluable”.

The programme, which can be viewed on the BBC website, https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000tq6d/lifeline-stroke-association is presented by the actor, whose character Patrick Trueman has had two strokes.

Dave was just 36, fit, healthy and working as a regional sales manager for Selwood Pumps when he had his stroke in 2017.

“I felt a small pop in the back of my neck and I put it down to a migraine,” said Dave.

“I woke up on the morning blind. I went down to A&E at Glangwili Hospital and they sent me for a CT scan. The nurse came over and said ‘You’ve had a brain haemorrhage, you could go into a coma. It was the scariest time of my life.”

Dave regained his sight but he struggled physically and his mental health also suffered over the coming months.

“I had double vision, my right arm didn’t work, my right leg didn’t work. I couldn’t speak properly. I got to the point of I didn’t want to be here. I actually got to the steps of ending it all.”

His life started to improve when the Stroke Association helped to arrange physiotherapy and communication therapy. He also joined a new support group for men going through similar experiences in his area, which was set up by Angela Hayes, the charity’s stroke recovery service co-coordinator for Carmarthenshire. 

Dave enjoying the outdoors with his son Arthur

They wanted to have a bit of banter and to be able to chat to each other away from their family. The group started meeting monthly in a local pub, with around 15 members from Ammanford, Llanelli, Carmarthen and other communities across the county.

When Covid-19 hit, the group moved online with fortnightly zoom meetings. In the TV appeal, Dave is seen chatting online with his fellow survivors.

Dave said: “We would help each other through it and talk about our experience, it is a massive help to me.

“Speaking to other survivors, you feel there’s someone there. That you’re not alone. They’ve done it, so I can do it. I can get better. I don’t call it recovery I call it rebuilding. I still get symptoms today of aphasia and fatigue.

“My Stroke Association co-ordinator has been a huge help to me. She has been invaluable in my recovery. I would never have got to where I have without her.”

Dave is continuing to rebuild his life with his wife Susan, 38, daughter Steph, 17, and Arthur four.

“When I had my stroke I was told I would never work again but I’m planning to look for something suitable in another 18 months and prove them wrong,” said Dave.

Katie Chappelle, the Stroke Association’s associate director for Wales, said: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to Dave for sharing his stroke story in the BBC Lifeline appeal and shining a spotlight on how we’re supporting stroke survivors.

“Stroke is one of the biggest killers and a leading cause of disability and around 7,400 people have a stroke each year in Wales.

“Like all charities, our income has been badly hit during the pandemic but stroke survivors need us now more than ever and every donation will help us make a difference.”

The charity’s partner ISS UK has pledged to give £1 for every £1 donated, meaning the value of gifts can be doubled for the first £15,000 donated.

The BBC1 Lifeline appeal for the Stroke Association can be watched on iPlayer here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000tq6d/lifeline-stroke-association

For more information about stroke and the support services for survivors and carers in Wales visit www.stroke.org.uk or call the Stroke Helpline on 0303 3033 100.

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Health

NHS charity funds sit-on weighing scales for patients

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Health Care Support Worker Claire Davies and Staff Nurse Rhian James with the sit on weighing scales

THANKS to donations from the public, Hywel Dda Health Charities has been able to purchase a sit-on weighing scales for patients in Cleddau Ward at Glangwili Hospital.

Cleddau is an admission unit for surgical patients and the scales are used so that an accurate weight can be obtained before admission to theatre. They also enable correct medication to be administered, based on weight, and for nutrition and hydration to be monitored.

Vicky Thomas, a Sister on Cleddau Ward said, “Having the sit on weighing scales has enabled us to weigh patients who we usually wouldn’t have been able to weigh until there was an improvement in their condition.

“Now we can weigh most patients as soon as they are admitted to the department which then enables us to refer to the appropriate services if needed. The sit on weighing scales will make a difference to staff as we were previously unable to weigh patients who were unable to stand independently, but having these allows us to now weigh the majority of patients.”

Public donations make a real difference to the lives of patients in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, enabling Hywel Dda Health Charities to purchase items above and beyond what the NHS provides.

You can find out more and support your local NHS charity at: hywelddahealthcharities.org.uk

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