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Health Board takes actions to protect healthcare for the most critically ill

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HEALTH and care services across West Wales are responding to the impacts of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in order to provide emergency and urgent care for patients in the safest way possible during the coming weeks.

Hywel Dda University Health Board is taking a number of actions today, and appealing for the continued support of our staff and communities to keep Hywel Dda safe as we face this new phase of the pandemic.

Actions are being taken in a planned way due to the high demand we are seeing for non-COVID care during this time of the year, together with high incidence of COVID-19 in our area, like the rest of the UK.

This is starting to result in higher numbers of COVID admissions and incidences in our hospitals and communities.  

It is also having a direct impact on our staffing levels across primary care, community and hospital services.  We currently estimate that at least 10 per cent of our workforce is absent for both COVID and non-COVID related reasons.  This figure is higher in some teams and we expect it to rise in the coming weeks. We need to plan how we deliver the most critical clinical services with the staff we have available. 

Actions being taken include:

  • The health board is providing and reminding staff of the services available to them internally to support them at this difficult time. It is standing down some less urgent work in order to redeploy staff where possible.
  • To maintain delivery of the most urgent cancer surgery in the short term, this will be undertaken for the Hywel Dda population from Prince Philip Hospital, in Llanelli, with the exception of Head and Neck urgent cancer surgery, which will continue at Glangwili General Hospital, in Carmarthen.. Our clinicians believe that concentrating the majority of our urgent care resources onto one site during the next few weeks is the best way to protect the delivery of this potentially life-saving surgery. This position will be continually reviewed and we will seek to re-establish urgent cancer surgery at our other main hospitals as soon as we can do so safely. We ask patients and families to support us and travel for their surgery. If you have no means to travel for your surgery, then please contact us on our COVID enquiries line on  0300 303 8322 or email COVIDEnquiries.hdd@wales.nhs.uk 
  • Outpatient & therapy appointments and clinics will be prioritised for the most urgent patients over the next few weeks. With the exception of a small number of emergency cases and some children’s appointments, we will reschedule outpatient appointments next week.  Patients will be re-booked according to clinical urgency in subsequent weeks. Unless you are contacted directly by the health board, please attend any appointment as scheduled. If anyone has concerns about the delay in their outpatient appointment, as a result of this short term measure, they can contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 or email COVIDEnquiries.hdd@wales.nhs.uk 

Director of Operations Andrew Carruthers said: “The whole of the UK is facing challenge from Omicron and the indirect impact on staffing. This is affecting us in Hywel Dda UHB across all our services whether in the community, primary care or hospitals, but to different degrees and is a very fluid situation. To ensure the delivery of care for the most critically unwell, and to ensure we protect the ability of our staff to provide this care, we have put in place actions that will provide some extra capacity. We apologise to anyone affected adversely by these actions and it remains our ambition, always, to re-establish our planned care services as soon as we are able to, knowing the impact this has on people’s lives.”

Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Experience Mandy Rayani added: “We are so grateful to our staff who continue to work in difficult circumstances, always driven by the desire to provide the best care possible to our population. We are asking our staff to be vigilant about the behaviours we know reduce transmission of COVID-19 at work and at home; and our public can also play a significant role in supporting the NHS and each other by also adhering to these principles. Unfortunately we are seeing more abuse targeted at our staff and we will not tolerate this. Health and care staff – from the clinicians to the support teams and call handlers in primary, community and hospital teams – provide a service to help our patients and communities and they should never be the victims of abuse, physical or verbal. Please help us to help you.”

Steps you can take to protect more lives, our NHS and each other include:

  • Get your full course of vaccination https://hduhb.nhs.wales/healthcare/covid-19-information/covid-19-vaccination-programme/
  • Follow Welsh Government guidance on self-isolation and testing, including carrying out regular LFDs (health and care staff have specific and different guidance internally)
  • Wear face coverings, or if asked in a health setting, a surgical face mask
  • Keep a 2meter distance from others when you can
  • Wash hands regularly and be ready to be asked by a healthcare professional to wash hands or sanitise whether in hospital or your own home
  • Do not accompany people to hospital, GP surgery, or another setting unless they are vulnerable and need your assistance
  • Please be aware that your GP surgery may offer you appointments in different ways where appropriate, such as over the telephone or online. Please allow extra time when ordering prescriptions during this busy time. Community pharmacies are also extremely busy so you may need to wait longer than usual.
  • Pre-arrange hospital visiting with the ward sister and be understanding if it is not possible at this time due to safety

The health board continues to work closely with others including the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust, local authorities and other partners to work together in these challenging times.

If you or a loved one is unwell, remember:

If you have a relative or loved one in hospital who is medically fit but is waiting to be discharged, you may be able to help us by providing short term care or considering interim placements in care homes.

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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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