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Public Health Wales apology over lack of clarity on smear test changes

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PUBLIC HEALTH WALES has apologised and admitted it hasn’t “done enough” to explain the reasons for increasing the length of time between cervical screening tests.

The change, which was announced on Tuesday, means people aged between 25 and 50 with a cervix will now wait five years until another test, rather than three, providing no human papillomavirus (HPV) cells are detected.

HPV is a very common virus that most people will come into contact with at some time during their lives. One or more high-risk types of HPV are present in over 99.8% of cervical cancers.

HPV testing was successfully introduced in Wales in 2018 and almost nine out of 10 results show no high-risk HPV.

There are about 160 cases of cervical cancer diagnosed every year in Wales and it is the most common cancer in women under the age of 35.

But Public Health Wales has admitted it has failed to give clear information over the change, leading to concerns cancers could be missed.

In a tweet this weekend PHW said: “We are sorry. We haven’t done enough to explain the changes to cervical screening and have caused concern. We are working to make this clearer and more information will be available as soon as we can today and in the coming days.”

Cancer charities have sought to reassure women concerned by the change. Cancer Research UK has said people should be aware increasing the gap between screenings is “safe” and the new form of testing means people are invited for further based on their risk of developing cancer rather than their age.

An online petition, calling for the reintroduction of the three year gap between routine smear tests, has now attracted more than 680,000 signatures.

Alice Davies, Cancer Research UK’s health information manager, said people should be aware the decision to increase the time between screenings was made on scientific advice and due to a new way of testing samples which detects human papilloma virus (HPV) and means doctors are better able to identify those at risk of developing cervical cancer.Ms Davies said: “As the new test is more accurate at finding those at risk of cervical cancer, screening intervals can be safely extended from three to five years.

“If someone is HPV positive then their next screening interval will be shorter than five years. The new test allows women to be invited back for screening based on their risk of developing cervical cancer, rather than just their age.

“Overall this makes the programme more accurate, and means people don’t have extra rounds of screening that wouldn’t give them any benefit, while offering more screening to people at higher risk.”On Wednesday Public Health Wales said it accepted it has to do more to explain the reasons for the change.

Charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, described as the UK’s leading cervical cancer charity, has sought to reassure people concerned about the changes.

It has said the change has been introduced following advice from the UK National Screening Committee which recommended the five year gap between tests due to the use of HPV tests which are more sensitive and effective.

It said this means the advice is most women aged 25 to 49 can, as those aged 50 to 64 are, can be tested every five years rather than three.

The charity says the improved testing will likely mean more lives saved by identifying those at greater risk of cancer earlier.

According to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust women in Wales, and Scotland, are invited back based on the result of the screening.

If those show high-risk HPV and cell changes you will be invited to colposcopy.

If it identified high-risk HPV but no cell changes you will be invited for cervical screening in one year.

If there is no HPV you will be invited for cervical screening in five years.

Public Health Wales says HPV testing was introduced in Wales in 2018 and almost nine out of 10 results show no high-risk HPV.

Heather Lewis, consultant in public health for Cervical Screening Wales said: “The HPV test we now use in Wales is more effective at identifying people at higher risk of developing cell changes which can cause cervical cancer.

“The evidence shows that it is therefore safe to extend the time between cervical screening tests for people who do not have HPV identified.”

HPV is a very common virus that most people will come into contact with at some time during their lives. One or more high-risk types of HPV are present in over 99.8% of cervical cancers.

Increasing the time between smear tests will also reduce risks from screening.

Head of Programme for Cervical Screening Wales at Public Health Wales, Louise Dunk said: “Testing everyone who attends for cervical screening using a test for high risk HPV will identify those at risk and prevent more cancers than just examining the cells alone.

“It is a really positive development that this more effective test will mean that women and people with a cervix, who test negative for HPV, now only need to attend their testing every five years, rather than three.”

There are around 160 cases of cervical cancer diagnosed every year in Wales and it is the most common cancer in women under the age of 35.

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Charity

Hywel Dda Health Charities use donations to create a tranquil room for their staff members

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Thanks to donations, Hywel Dda Health Charities has bought comfy chairs and coffee tables for the refurbished staff room in Padarn respiratory ward at Glangwili Hospital.
Padarn Ward has moved to a new, permanent location and the staff room has been improved to make it a more relaxing area.
Lynwen Williams, Senior Operational Liaison Officer for Unscheduled Care at Glangwili Hospital, said: “The new furniture will help with staff wellbeing, making it more comfortable and inviting.
“The hospital’s League of Friends has also paid for a mural to decorate the staff room, so it is now a tranquil place.”
Nicola Llewellyn, Head of Hywel Dda Health Charities, the official charity of Hywel Dda University Health Board, added: “The support of our local communities enables us to provide services over and above what the NHS can provide in the three counties of Hywel Dda and we are extremely grateful for every donation we receive.”
If you would like to support your local NHS, please visit www.hywelddahealthcharities.org.uk

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Mae Elusennau Iechyd Hywel Dda yn defnyddio rhoddion i greu ystafell dawel ar gyfer eu haelodau staff

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Diolch i roddion, mae Elusennau Iechyd Hywel Dda wedi prynu cadeiriau cyfforddus a byrddau coffi ar gyfer yr ystafell staff wedi’i hadnewyddu yn ward anadlol Padarn yn Ysbyty Glangwili.
Mae Ward Padarn wedi symud i leoliad newydd, parhaol ac mae’r ystafell staff wedi’i gwella i’w gwneud yn ardal fwy ymlaciol.
Dywedodd Lynwen Williams, Uwch Swyddog Cyswllt Gweithredol ar gyfer Gofal Heb ei Drefnu yn Ysbyty Glangwili: “Bydd y dodrefn newydd yn helpu gyda lles staff, gan ei wneud yn fwy cyfforddus a deniadol.
“Mae Cynghrair Cyfeillion yr ysbyty hefyd wedi talu am furlun i addurno ystafell y staff, felly mae bellach yn lle tawel.”
Ychwanegodd Nicola Llewellyn, Pennaeth Elusennau Iechyd Hywel Dda, elusen swyddogol Bwrdd Iechyd Prifysgol Hywel Dda: “Mae cefnogaeth ein cymunedau lleol yn ein galluogi i ddarparu gwasanaethau y tu hwnt i’r hyn y gall y GIG ei ddarparu yn nhair sir Hywel Dda ac rydym yn hynod ddiolchgar am bob rhodd a dderbyniwn.”
Os hoffech gefnogi eich GIG lleol, ewch i www.elusennauiechydhyweldda.org.uk

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Health

Council end contract with Plas Y Bryn Care Home

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FOLLOWING significant concerns with its financial position and an inability to pay their staff and creditors, Carmarthenshire County Council has had to give notice on its contract to provide care with Plas Y Bryn Care Home, Cwmgwili. 

The residents at Plas Y Bryn are being supported by the council to find new homes by a dedicated team of social workers and managers.

Whilst this has come as a great disappointment to the Council, we have been providing significant financial support to ensure that the care company can meet its financial obligations and that care is not impacted. This has included bringing regular payments in advance to enable the company to pay staff salaries.

As a result, the council has had to take the difficult decision to give notice to the care company. The decision has not been taken lightly and we share the deep concerns that the people living and working in the care home will have.

There have been continued attempts to work with the operators to understand their financial position. A variety of alternative options have been considered but, unfortunately, due to the legal and financial circumstances that surround the care company, there are no viable solutions that can be found at this time.

We would like to recognise and thank the staff within Plas Y Bryn Care Home for their commitment to delivering high-quality care and highlight that the quality of care has at no point been a contributing factor to this difficult decision.

Cllr. Jane Tremlett, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Services, Carmarthenshire County Council, said:

“The welfare of the residents at Plas Y Bryn is of the utmost importance and we have acted quickly to support the care home to continue to provide excellent care of its residents.

“We are supporting residents along with their families and next of kin, during what is a very difficult and distressing situation, to find suitable and adequate accommodation for them to find new homes.

“On behalf of the council, I would like to express my gratitude to the staff at Plas Y Bryn for their invaluable work at the care home. We are also supporting them during this hard period as they continue to provide care to the residents.”

Ahead of the contract coming to an end, the council will be working with people and their families over the coming weeks to find new homes where they can receive the care and support that they require. Wherever possible, we will do our best to ensure that people are supported to move to locations of choice. Residents are also being provided with access to advocacy services to support them through this difficult time.

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