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Wales’ ambitious aim to offer all eligible adults a booster by end of the year

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FIRST MINISTER Mark Drakeford last night set out Wales’ aim to offer all eligible adults an appointment for a booster vaccine by the end of December.
Urgent plans are being put in place to further accelerate the booster programme as new evidence has emerged showing two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine are not enough to offer protection against the new omicron variant.
But the booster dose is vital in improving protection against the fast-moving variant.
In a televised message to Wales, the First Minister said: “We must be prepared for omicron cases to rise quickly and very steeply – just as they have in other parts of the UK.

The NHS in Wales is being put on high alert due to fears over the Omicron variant


“We are still learning about this new form of coronavirus. All the information we have tells us we are facing a very serious situation. By the end of the month, omicron will have become the dominant form of the virus in Wales, bringing a new wave of infections and illness.
“This could then translate into a large number of people needing hospital treatment just at a time when the NHS is already under significant pressure. The Welsh Government will do everything we can to protect people’s health and keep Wales safe.
“New evidence has emerged about the effectiveness of our vaccines against omicron. Two doses of the vaccine is simply not enough to give the level of protection against the infection we all need. We have already increased the speed of the roll-out of our booster programme. New clinics have been opened and operating hours extended. Urgent efforts are now underway to accelerate the programme even further so we can offer all eligible adults an appointment by the end of this year if possible.
“Please make getting a booster a priority, as it is the single of the most important things you can do to protect yourself against coronavirus and this new variant.”
The First Minister added: “None of us wanted to hear the news of a new omicron variant. After almost two long years of the pandemic, we had all hoped that we could put coronavirus behind us this Christmas. Unfortunately, we are once again facing a serious and worsening situation. But, we have faced challenges many times during this pandemic.
“We can once again pull together to look out for each other – for friends, family and neighbours – to protect each other and keep ourselves safe and well. We have already taken some steps to increase protections in Wales and we may need to take some further steps to keep Wales safe.”
Commenting, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said: “Whilst it is encouraging that all indications show Omicron is a milder form of the virus, it is more transmissible and it’s clear booster jabs are a vital defence against the variant. Therefore, it is essential that government infrastructure is geared up to deliver boosters on a war-like scale.

The military as well as volunteers will be assisting the NHS deliver ‘shots into arms’


“The system clearly needs to be modernised to introduce more dynamism and flexibility like online booking systems, especially considering the numerous questions over how normalised regular jabs are going to become.
“After heeding our calls for walk-in centres and reactivation of the volunteer army, Labour’s Health Minister should now extend the hours during which people are vaccinated, making greater use of community pharmacists, reopening mass vaccination centres, and prioritising boosters over jabs for teenagers.
“We do not need more restrictions if a critical mass of people get their jabs. There is a duty on all those eligible to get their vaccination and the Labour Government has a responsibility to deliver the rollout rapidly. A free society and an open economy depend on it.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats welcomed the accelerated vaccine booster targets but have also called for greater support to be provided to the hospitality industry over the winter.
Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS stated: “I welcome the Welsh Government’s new target to offer every adult a booster vaccine by the end of December, vaccinations remain the best way out of this crisis.
“However, we would also like to see more financial support offered to hospitality firms being hit by reduced footfall due to concerns over Omicron. Despite no lockdown being in place pubs and restaurants are concerned about a drop off in trade during what is usually their busiest time of year, following fresh work-from-home guidance.
“Firms have already paid for stock for the Christmas period in the wake of supply chain disruptions. Much of this can’t be stored for the future, and even the small proportion that can will cause immediate cash flow disruption in already struggling businesses.”

A technician uses a single channel pipette dropper to test for Omicron


GMB Union said it encourages everyone to get their booster – but says frontline workers need a pay boost too.
Rehana Azam, GMB National Secretary, said: “There has been no respite for our frontline workers throughout the covid pandemic.
“They’ve put themselves in harm’s way to serve the public – particularly when governments and employers failed to ensure the provision of proper PPE and testing to keep them safe at work.
“GMB members know the importance of keeping safe and well, that’s why we’re encouraging everyone across the four nations to get their booster.
“But as governments, yet again, ask our NHS, social care and key frontline workers to undertake another huge national effort, they are still not paying these workers properly.
“Against the backdrop of covid, there is a cost-of-living crisis, key services face an understaffing crisis and the people delivering them are enduring a wage crisis.
“That’s not good enough and it’s got to be confronted.
“Our key workers must be paid properly – it’s the least they deserve for everything they are doing for all of us.”

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Health

Werndale Hospital recognised for outstanding patient care in national award

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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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Health

Paul Makin shortlisted for Community Nutrition Professional of the Year

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A DIETICIAN who has helped provide information and support for people in our communities, including those in care homes, needs your vote to win a national award.

Paul Makin, 37 from Gowerton, is a Lead Community Nutrition Support Dietitian, whose contribution and work is benefiting people in Carmarthenshire, has been nominated and shortlisted for Community Nutrition Professional of the Year by his colleagues at Hywel Dda University Health Board.

Paul was nominated for several reasons, one of which was his development of a self-screening for malnutrition by means of a QR code that leads patients to a nutrition webpage platform. The QR code provides the public, patients, and healthcare professionals with an easy digital resource that they can scan if they are concerned about their own or others nutritional status.

Paul has supported the team in piloting a virtual care home support service to enable the health board to reach care home patients during the height of the pandemic when access was restricted to these areas. Paul is also currently studying a master’s qualification and through this is developing a standard operating procedure for the community dietetics team within the health board. This will help the team, that works over four hospital sites.

With regards to his nomination Paul said “I was delighted to hear of my nomination, it was completely unexpected but greatly appreciated. I can’t thank the community dietetics team enough for all their hard work and contribution to supporting our quality improvement projects over the past two years. So, for me, this nomination reflects the efforts and involvement of our community teams across the sites. As a clinical lead entering a new health board, it’s reassuring to know, despite all the challenges experienced during COVID, that our hard work has been recognised. As a community service, we are working hard to improve patient flow to ensure that those with the greatest needs are receiving the care they need in a timely way.”

Victoria Prendiville, Deputy Head of Dietetics, said “Over the last year Paul has turned challenges into opportunities and has led our community team to develop innovative and inspiring quality improvement work. With all these projects Paul has a methodical and inclusive approach, he shows dedication and is a true change facilitator. As a service we are incredibly grateful for his ongoing commitment to patient care, service innovation and change, and his dedication to Dietetics. We are extremely proud of his achievements and those of the team around him.”

UK wide voting is now open until the 21st of July. Place your vote for Paul here (opens in new tab

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Health

Plan for Health and Wellbeing Centre submitted to Welsh Government

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AN AMBITIOUS plan for a new Health and Wellbeing centre in Cross Hands, Carmarthenshire, has been submitted to Welsh Government.

Hywel Dda University Health Board is proposing to enhance an integrated health and social care network of services for the Amman Gwendraeth area, which includes the construction of a new Health and Wellbeing Centre.

If approved, the centre will provide a base for health and care services for the benefit of local communities. The core clinical services will include two local GP practices (Cross Hands and Tumble Medical Partnership and Penygroes Medical Practice), along with a range of Community Health Services such as midwifery, health visiting, community nursing, therapy services, podiatry, and mental health.

These will be complemented with additional supplementary services, such as an Integrated Early Years Centre, which is a community-based service for families with children aged 0-12. There will also be audiology services, a community pharmacy, space for community events, library, as well as a refreshment area.

As part of the health board’s commitment towards to decarbonisation, and achieving net zero carbon by 2030, the design of the building includes a range of low/zero carbon technologies. These include the installation of photovoltaic panels, air source heat pumps, as well as the provision of charging points for electric vehicles.

Rhian Matthews, Hywel Dda UHB’s Integrated System Director for Carmarthenshire, said: said: “This exciting plan demonstrates the importance of delivering services as close to home as possible.

“This Outline Business Case (OBC) for Cross Hands Health and Well-being Centre is an ambitious plan that will not only be an asset for Cross Hands, but will benefit Carmarthenshire as a whole.

“This is the first OBC to be presented to Welsh Government since the submission of our Programme Business Case (PBC) earlier this year. Our PBC aims to secure a scale of investment never before seen in west Wales, in order to deliver our long-term health and care strategy ‘A Healthier Mid and West Wales: Our Future Generations Living Well’.”

Subject to Welsh Government approval, planning process and construction phase, the new centre would be built adjacent to the A48 and the new Cross Hands Business Park. It is scheduled to open in autumn 2025.

The full Outline Business Case for Cross Hands Health and Well-being Centre can be found here.

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