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Community encouraged to have their say on Tycroes Surgery plans

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FOLLOWING the application from Margaret Street Practice, Ammanford, to close its branch surgery, Tycroes, Hywel Dda University Health Board is encouraging people to have their say before June 24.

Tycroes has been closed since February 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the building served as a ‘red site’ for the Amman Gwendraeth GP cluster. Prior to the pandemic, the Branch was used for a range of general medical services.

Since its temporary closure, patients of Tycroes have used Margaret Street Practice, which is approximately two miles away. There is a regular bus route between the two Surgeries.

Margaret Street Practice, Hywel Dda University Health Board and the Community Health Council are working together to engage with patients of both surgeries to gain an understanding of how a proposed closure would affect patients. The engagement period, which started on 9 May, runs until Friday 24 June. Patients can provide feedback in the following ways:

Completing a feedback form at surgeries and pharmacies
Calling 0300 303 8322, option 4
Emailing Hyweldda.Engagement@wales.nhs.uk
Writing to Tracey Huggins, Head of GMS Services, Primary Care Team, Felinfoel Community Resource Centre, Felinfoel, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, SA14 8BE
Online via www.haveyoursay.hduhb.wales.nhs.uk (opens in new tab) and the My Surgery app
Here are some frequently asked questions based on feedback that has been received so far:

How does having only one site mean more doctor appointments?
Should Tycroes close, the potential benefits for patients include more available appointments for all patients at the Margaret Street Practice, as staff would not be covering two sites, and earlier and later appointments could be offered from Margaret Street.

Reduced travel time for clinical staff will create capacity for an extra eight appointments per day, both face to face and virtual. The Practice have also recruited two extra nurses so are now able to offer more appointments than two years ago.

How will parking at St Margaret Street be managed?
The Practice appreciates there are limited spaces immediately outside Margaret Street Surgery however there is a very large pay and display opposite.

Travel to main surgery will be a struggle
During the last two years, the Practice hasn’t received any complaints relating to parking or transport however we are encouraging patients to comment on this during this engagement process.

There is a regular bus route between Tycroes Surgery and St Margaret Street Surgery and for most patients, it is a short drive (average of five minutes).

Will virtual appointments be used?
Margaret Street Practice will continue to operate a multi accessible model including virtual and face to face appointments as clinically appropriate.

What about blood tests?
Margaret Street Practice stopped their secondary care phlebotomy clinics on 11 April upon their Healthcare Support Worker handing in her notice.

Most patients in Carmarthenshire have to book an appointment online to get their secondary care bloods carried out off site from their practice; for Amman Gwendraeth patients, this would be in either Amman Valley Hospital or the Antioch Centre in Llanelli.

Margaret Street Surgery will continue to delivery primary care blood tests such as diabetes and INR (which measures the time for your blood to clot). Patients have been communicated with following this change of procedure.

Can patients still use Tycroes Pharmacy?
Patients would still be able to use the Tycroes Pharmacy and the Practice would continue to send all requested prescriptions to the pharmacy.


Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care, Community and Long Term Care for Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “We are committed to listening to and engaging with local populations around the proposal to relocate Primary Care services from Tycroes Surgery to Margaret Street and we would therefore like to invite patients to get involved in the engagement process.

“We are committed to working closely with the Practice and the Community Health Council throughout this process and will keep patients informed of the results of this engagement exercise.”

Vice Chair of Hywel Dda Community Health Council, Dr Barbara Wilson said: “GP services are so important to the communities they serve. When the health board comes to make its decision about the future of Tycroes branch surgery, it’s crucial that the public have their say.

“Whether people support this proposal or oppose it, the CHC will be ensuring that those views are heard and understood by the health board.”

Patients are reminded that services are also available through local community pharmacies who offer a range of expert services. Find out more here: https://hduhb.nhs.wales/healthcare/services-and-teams/pharmacy/ (opens in new tab)

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Ascona Group announces new Car and Truck wash facilities

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Charlie's Truck Wash

ASCONA GROUP, one of the UK’s fastest-growing forecourt operators, is pleased to announce two new vehicle washing partnerships as part of improvements to its unique roadside retail proposition across its forecourt estate.

As part of a new partnership with the American based PDQ Manufacturing, a leader for in-bay automatic vehicle washing facilities, Ascona Group will be the first in the UK to install the ‘Laserwash 360 Plus’, a touchless car wash system for its customers.

The partnership will initially expand the wash options at the Hinton Service Station, with a view to roll out the system to other sites under the Ascona Group’s brand, ‘Charlie’s Express Car Wash’ later this year. The partnership is a significant investment for Ascona and demonstrates its commitment to ever improving the experience for customers.

Ascona Group is also delighted to announce a strategic partnership with WashTec UK that will see Ascona introduce a ‘First of its Kind’ truck washing facility at the Tenby Road site on the A40 Eastbound in Carmarthenshire, which offers the very best technology available to HGV drivers.

The truck wash employs a fully ‘closed loop’ total water recycling system, the first of its kind in Wales, which recovers all water used within the wash process, filtering it for reuse with little or no water entering the mains drainage system. This system ensures Ascona not only has the best commercial wash in South Wales, but also offers customers one of the more environmentally friendly approaches in operation.

Commenting on the announcement, CEO Darren Briggs said: “From the very beginning, we knew that our sites must present our customers with a unique and compelling offer which is why we are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to improve our roadside retail facilities.

“These two new partnerships further demonstrate our focus on creating industry-leading propositions and we are really excited to be working with PDQ Manufacturing USA and WashTec UK. Together, we are keen to continue to build on the success of these new operations and we are actively reviewing multiple opportunities across the Ascona portfolio to roll out more units such as these.”

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Community

Nearly £50,000 of National Lottery funding for community groups in Carmarthenshire

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FIVE local community organisations across Carmarthenshire are celebrating after being awarded a share of £49,575 of funding from The National Lottery Community Fund over the past month.

One successful project was MolTân Makers who will use their £9,820 grant to provide metal working workshops for people wishing to improve their mental health and well-being. The group will reach out to mental health groups and the wider community and also allow people to reconnect with the community following the pandemic.

One participant with MolTân Makers explained, “ The course was professionally run by four hard-working people who helped us with one to one tuition when needed. They were so welcoming and adaptable to individual needs and allowed me to attend the course at different hours due to health reasons.

“They were great company and created an interesting and positive atmosphere to help people with mental and physical health problems feel included and understood and we all took home what we made in the course.”

The Hangout received £10,000 and will help young people improve their mental health and wellbeing through structured outdoor activity programmes. The project will build on a previous pilot project that led to more young people becoming re-engaged in school following the pandemic and continuing to volunteer with the group after the initial sessions finished.

The Alternative Learning Company in Llanelli were awarded £9,955 and will recycle plastic bottles to build full size greenhouses. They will propagate plants for growing schemes in local schools and communities. The project will reduce the levels of plastic sent to landfill or polluting open spaces, and give young people an understanding of the impact of climate change.

Newcastle Emlyn Town Council will build an outdoor structure in collaboration with the community, to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Jubilee. This £10,000 grant will fund building and design materials, and a water harvesting kit.

Messy Projects will use their £9,800 grant to run the activities and events they missed due to the pandemic. Activities will include celebrating the Queens platinum jubilee, a BBQ, and a Bonfire party.

John Rose, Wales Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said “These groups play a vital role in supporting their communities and these grants will allow them to continue being there for people in future. 

 ”National Lottery players raise more than £30 million each week for good causes across the UK and the projects funded over the past month show the crucial difference players make through their tickets. I look forward to following all of their progress.”  

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Family of power station worker calls on former colleagues to help with asbestos claim

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THE WIFE of a Carmarthenshire man, who was just 66 when he died of an asbestos-related cancer, is calling on colleagues who worked with him in the 1970s to help understand where and how he contracted the disease.

Peter Colton, from Llanelli, died in July 2021 after being diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma.

He worked as a conveyor and weighbridge operator for the CEGB at Carmarthen Bay Power Station. During his time at the power station, his duties included offloading coal wagons and conveying coal to the boilers.

It is possible that Mr Colton was exposed to asbestos during those years and now his family has sought the help of local asbestos specialists J.M Parsons, to investigate a claim for compensation.

Ann Colton, Mr Colton’s wife, wants answers. She said: “Peter was diagnosed with mesothelioma and died just six weeks later. He had been suffering from shortness of breath and just had no quality of life.

“It was devastating to see someone who had been so healthy and active slowly get worse and worse. We just want to know where and how he was exposed to asbestos and hope someone out there can help us.”

According to data from the Health and Safety Executive, annual mesothelioma deaths in Britain increased steeply over the last 50 years, a consequence of mainly occupational asbestos exposures that occurred because of the widespread industrial use of asbestos during 1950-1980.

Amanda Jones is one of the specialists at J.M Parsons, which is owned by Thompsons Solicitors. Thompsons has paved the way for asbestos litigation in the UK ever since it brought about the first successful asbestos disease claim to the House of Lords in 1972, 50 years ago.

She said: “We would be grateful to hear from anyone who remembers working with Peter Colton in Carmarthen Bay Power Station in the 1970s or anyone who worked in the same field as Peter beyond the 1970s.

“Such individuals will be invaluable to Mr Colton’s family as they may be able to add important information that will assist us in building a civil claim. We hope that we will then be able to answer questions about the conditions that Mr Colton worked in during his working life.”

Anyone with information should contact Amanda Jones on 01554 779940, or via email at amanda@jmplaw.co.uk.

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