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Cabinet outline exciting and ambitious ‘vision’ for Carmarthenshire

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RESIDENTS and businesses in Carmarthenshire are being asked to help shape the council’s Cabinet ‘vision’ for the next five years.

Council Leader Cllr Darren Price outlined an exciting and ambitious vision for the county reflecting key issues and themes that have been identified since the elections took place in May.

Cllr Price has made a number of changes to the Cabinet portfolios in response to local and global events. It includes for the first time a dedicated climate change portfolio to focus on and drive the council’s ambition to be net zero carbon by 2030, and a lead member for tackling poverty.

Cllr Price said that although we are now into the recovery stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cabinet could not ignore its impact on communities.

“Coupled with the current cost of living crisis, we know that times are already hard and are likely to get worse before they get better,” he said. “We are committed to understanding local needs and working with partners to meet them.”

As well as tackling climate change and poverty, the Cabinet’s vision statement also includes strengthening the economy and increasing prosperity, and investing in housing, education, culture, infrastructure and the environment to make a real difference to people’s lives.

Cllr Price said: “I am genuinely excited about the programme and our commitments particularly around tackling poverty, climate change, town centre regeneration, providing quality homes, addressing the capacity issues and rebalancing the care sector, and providing quality education services across the county amongst others.

“This is our starting point as a Cabinet of the direction of travel and type of areas that we want to focus on over the next five years. This is what we care about, the really important issues that we need to get to grips with.

“But it’s not just our view that counts, and we are keen to listen to a number of voices, that includes of course the residents of Carmarthenshire who are absolutely central in everything that we do.”

Residents are being urged to share their views via the residents’ survey, which together with feedback from staff, and engagement with local members across all political groups, will help to develop the corporate strategy which will be published in the autumn and will set out the council’s strategic objectives over the next five years.

To take part in the residents’ survey please visit the consultation pages of the council website carmarthenshire.gov.wales/consultations before August 5.

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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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New ward extension opens at Werndale Hospital

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WERNDALE Hospital opens its £1millon ward extension, featuring a suite of new spacious patient en-suite rooms and additional light and airy ward space for new nurses’ stations, new technology and medical equipment, in pleasant and comfortable spaces. 

Werndale is part of Circle Health Group, the UK’s largest provider of private healthcare. The group is carrying out a £125 million redevelopment programme across its 50 hospitals in the UK.

Werndale has a strong history in the village of Bancyfelin, where is has been serving the local communities of Wales for over 32 years.

James Davies, Wales and Scarlets rugby player, from Bancyfelin, cut the ribbon to mark the official opening on Monday 1st August. His nickname “Cubby”, is reference to his brother’s nickname, “Fox”; this refers to the Fox & Hounds pub their parents ran in Bancyfelin, the village where they grew up. Staff and consultants were given the chance to view the new extension, with a small gathering to mark the occasion and celebrate all the hard work that has gone into this project over the last 12 months.

Jacky Jones, Executive Director of Werndale Hospital said: “The investment programme is an exciting opportunity to expand what we can offer to patients at Werndale. Our staff and consultants are delighted with this expansion which will allow us to meet the private healthcare needs of patients and families in Wales and will decrease waiting times which will positively impact the patient’s experience. Having the new patient rooms here increases our ward capacity by 20%, it is a great investment”.

Gaynor Llewellyn, Director of Clinical Services said: “At Werndale we are committed to continuous improvement of clinical facilities and services. We continually invest in the hospital so that we can offer our patients and consultants reassurance when they visit us for treatments”.

Werndale Hospital is seeing increased demand for its services across all specialities particularly orthopaedic surgery, ophthalmology, and general surgery. Nearly 4,000 patients had surgery at Werndale Hospital, Bancyfelin during 2021 and the new investment will enable ward capacity to be increased by 25 per cent.

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Help shape the future of third sector services in Carmarthenshire

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RESIDENTS are being asked for their views to help shape the future of third sector services in Carmarthenshire.

The third sector includes a range of different organisations, such as charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups that deliver essential services to a wide range of residents, helping to improve people’s health and wellbeing.

Carmarthenshire County Council is looking to change the way it commissions third sector services to make it simpler and easier for residents to access, and to enhance the quality of support and activities provided by focusing on what is important to local people.

Changes that had to be made as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are being looked at as an opportunity to build on the positive work that has been carried out and to identify what services are needed for the future.

A public consultation exercise is underway to gather people’s views to help plan and deliver a new community-based service model which will meet the needs of communities.

The council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Social Services Cllr Jane Tremlett said: “The council has a long-standing, valued relationship with the third sector which plays an important role in helping to improve people’s wellbeing

“Our discussions have highlighted that there is a wealth of knowledge, experience and skills within organisations, particularly in relation to the lived experience of service users and what matters to them.

“It is important that we continue to work together to deliver modern, high-quality services that meet the needs of the communities we serve.

“This consultation will help us to identify what services are needed in the future and where, and how people would like to access them.”

Visit the consultation pages on the council website before August 26 to have your say. Paper copies are also available from the council’s customer service Hwbs in Llanelli, Carmarthen and Ammanford, and a number of face-to-face events are being held over the summer to engage directly with residents. For more information, please visit carmarthenshire.gov.wales/consultations

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