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First Minister encourages people to get the flu vaccine as he gets the jab

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Mark Drakeford receiving his flu vaccine

THIS week, First Minister Mark Drakeford, got his flu vaccination and encouraged others to take up the offer this winter to help keep people safe and well.

This year will be Wales’ largest ever flu vaccination programme, with people aged 50 and over and all those eligible for a free vaccine being invited to have their jab.

The school’s flu vaccine programme has also been extended this year to include all those in secondary school in years 7-11.

The Welsh Government has also extended the free flu vaccine to all primary care workers in Wales.

Those eligible for the free flu vaccine also include pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions.

The COVID booster programme will also be co-administered to those who are eligible where appropriate to do so, in an effort to improve efficiency and increase uptake of both vaccines. Both vaccines can be administered in succession without delay so there is no need to postpone either appointment once booked

First Minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford, who received his flu vaccine this week, said:

“Unlike last year, we are expecting a significant amounts of flu to circulate this winter and Covid is still with us. It’s very important people take up their offer of the flu vaccine as well as the Covid booster. Data suggests this winter flu season could be 50% to 100% higher than a typical season.

“As we have seen with COVID, vaccines play a huge role in helping to help protect us.  They are the best way to keep everyone safe and help stop the spread of the virus.

“We want to protect as many people as possible, particularly those who are most vulnerable in our community, and reduce the pressure on our NHS.”

Anne McGowan, Nurse Consultant for Public Health Wales’ Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme said:

“Having a flu vaccine every year is one of the most effective ways to protect against flu.”

“Getting it is simple, and for most eligible groups is available from either their General Practice or a Community Pharmacy, with separate arrangements in place for school-age children and NHS staff.

“To help extend protection against infection it is very important to get your COVID-19 booster vaccine when offered. It is available to those eligible groups that completed their primary course of the vaccinations earlier this year.

“COVID-19 booster vaccinations are offered by invitation at existing local mass vaccination centres. Please get yours when you are invited.”

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Health

Possible super-hospital plans released as Pembrokeshire site ruled out

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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.

Site 12 in Whitland
Travel time analysis for population to site 12

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.

Plan for ‘site C’ in Whitland
Travel time analysis for population to ‘site C’

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.

Plans for ‘site 17’ in St Clears
Travel time analysis for population ‘site 17’ in St Clears

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.

Ambulance times to Whitland, Bronglais Hospital and Morriston Hospital (Welsh Ambulance Service travel time analysis June 2022)
Ambulance times to St Clears, Bronglais Hospital and Morriston Hospital (Welsh Ambulance Service travel time analysis June 2022)

“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.”

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Health

Glangwili hospital receive fabric to make laundry bags

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Pictured with some of the laundry bags and squares are Nurse Louise McGee and Health Care Support Worker Abi Jones.

THANKS to donations, Hywel Dda Health Charities has provided fabric to make laundry bags and bonding squares for the Special Care Baby Unit at Glangwili Hospital.

Health Care Support Worker Louise Hughes said: “The laundry bags help parents to be involved in their baby’s care and the fabric squares help in the bonding between mother and baby.

“The laundry bags are placed at the end of each baby’s cot, providing a place to store soiled clothes, ready to be taken home to be washed.

“The laundry bags and squares are made for us by the mother of one of our members of staff, and we would like to thank for her kindness and time in making these.”

Louise added: “Parents tell us they find the bags very useful and have said they look homely which is nice to see when you are sat in a clinical area, and the bonding squares help them feel connected with their baby.”

Hywel Dda Health Charities is the official charity of Hywel Dda University Health Board. For more details about the charity and how you can help support local NHS patients and staff, go to www.hywelddahealthcharities.org.uk

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Health

Glangwili Hospital is first in Wales to administer new osteoporosis medication

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GLANDWILI HOSPITAL has become the first in Wales to administer a new medication that will help patients suffering from osteoporosis. It was approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and it the first new osteoporosis drug treatment of its kind for over a decade.

The new treatment – Romosozumab – is now available in Wales for preventing future fractures in patients suffering from osteoporosis.

The bone-building drug is given as a simple injection under the skin. It is highly effective for preventing fractures by the way it acts on bone cells, particularly in postmenopausal women with severe osteoporosis. It is one of only two treatments that help to promote bone formation, and the first to reduce bone loss at the same time.

On Thursday 21 July Carole Bevan became the first patient in Wales to receive the medication at Glangwili General Hospital, Carmarthen.

She said: “I am very fortunate to be the first patient in Wales and quite pleased at being considered and offered this treatment. I did not feel the needle at all and I’m happy to self-administer the injection monthly for the next 12 months.”

Dr Abhaya Gupta, Consultant Physician at Glangwili Hospital, added: “The availability of this drug in Wales is an additional option for treating patients with osteoporosis, many of whom suffer devastating consequences from hip fractures, spine and wrist fractures.

“By its novel mechanism of action this treatment has the potential to revolutionise our approach to treating those people with severe disease who are at very high risk of fracture, especially when it is used as their initial treatment.

“With increasing numbers of elderly patients with osteoporosis, this injection is an additional drug available to specialists to treat these patients, helping to reduce disability and health and social care costs in the long term.”

Catrin Beddoe, a pharmacist at Glangwili Hospital, added: “This is a simple injection given once a month for one year to appropriate elderly female patients suffering from the devastating consequences of fractures, and I am pleased to be part of the specialist osteoporosis team involved in this exciting work.”

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