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POLICE EXTEND INVESTIGATION AT BRECON HOSPITAL

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Controversial cuts: Trevor Purt

Controversial cuts: Trevor Purt

A MAJOR police investigation into alleged abuse of patients in a Welsh hospital has been extended, The Herald’s partner publication The Eye has revealed.

The inquiry into events at Brecon War Memorial Hospital by Dyfed- Powys police began earlier this year, and should have been concluded after a few weeks but will now last several months.

Details were been given to The Eye from a whistleblower of how an elderly stroke victim was slapped in bed by a carer, and visiting families were forced to bring in food to keep their starving relatives alive.

The Eye was also told falsification of notes at the hospital was “routine practice”.

The Brecon hospital is one of three in Wales which have been under police investigation after the treatment of patients was exposed.

The others are at Bridgend and Mountain Ash.

A whistleblower in Brecon said: “I witnessed an assault on an elderly lady who was a stroke victim and slapped while in bed by a female care assistant.”

Another added: “The back-dating of notes was routine practice.”

Patients’ notes were also allegedly destroyed.

It was claimed that elderly patients were effectively kept without food and fluids, and visiting families had to feed their relatives.

‘DRUNK’

One whistleblower said: “The night culture at Brecon hospital is amateur at best, dangerous at worst.

“Staff were drunk on duty, nurses were put to bed as they were drunk, then woken up before day-staff turned up.

“A convicted sex-offender was working as a care assistant.

“Wards were unattended so that staff could eat a take-out together and all staff were sometimes taking three hour sleep breaks.”

“I reported it.

“I was present the day (X) ordered staff to edit (Y’s) notes post mortem, it was routine practice”

A third whistleblower said: “Several nurses were disgusting towards patients, relatives and staff, and despite any protests they were never ever dealt with.

“They would threaten, and verbally abuse elderly people who did not expect this after long lives.”

INFORMATION

A police spokesperson told The Eye: “Enquiries are ongoing.

“They (officers) hope to be able to release more information soon”.

In March the spokesperson had said: “Dyfed-Powys Police

can confirm that an investigative assessment is currently underway in relation to concerns raised about patient care at Brecon War Memorial Hospital and that the investigative assessment relates to specific patient care issues between 2010 and 2012.”

In June the police said their inquiries would last several more weeks.

Brecon war memorial hospital is a small community clinical centre providing services near families’ homes.

It has 27 surgical, medical or rehabilitation beds and a 10-bed Elderly, Mental and Ill (EMI) unit under consultant care.

The disturbing news of the extended inquiry there is set against a worrying backdrop.

At Ysbyty Cwm Cynon in Mountain Ash, ten hospital workers were suspended after the death of an elderly woman who was found with “unexplained and serious injuries” on the ward.

Nurses in the Bridgend hospital were investigated by police for allegedly drugging elderly and difficult patients to enjoy a quiet night shift.

AMPUTATED

One nurse blew the whistle on what was happening before the death of an 82 year old woman, Lillian Willams, at the town’s Princess of Wales hospital.

Mrs Williams had one of her legs amputated but died a year and a half ago after a catalogue of neglect at the hospital, which is part of the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University health board (ABMU).

In total two deaths at the Princess of Wales hospital, occurred after a review recommended changes in practices which should have ensured “patient safety”.

After the first death, ABMU said they had found “aspects of the patient’s care that were not up to standard” and an immediate action plan was designed “with an emphasis on communication, further staff training, record-keeping, recognising early signs of a patient’s condition deteriorating and escalating this appropriately in line with health board policy”.

The patient’s family were offered “sincere condolences” and officials were “sorry they (the family) have needed to contact us with concerns”.

But these revelations come soon after unsettling information about the Welsh NHS.

At the Tawel Fan ward in Glan Clwyd Hospital, it was disclosed that patients were“kept like animals” and they had to crawl across a urine-stained floor.

Family members raised their concerns with hospital authorities as early as November 2012, a year before it closed, but the appalling standard of care was only disclosed by the Daily Mail after mobile phones which filmed the events were smuggled on to the ward.

The health board responsible Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) has been placed in special measures and the controversial chief executive Trevor Purt was suspended.

But Professor Purt has an interesting past.

PROTESTS

As The Herald has previously covered in depth, when he was in charge of the Hywel Dda Health Board his planned re-organisation of services proved highly contentious.

The plans prompted huge protests, some outside the assembly in Cardiff bay.

Professor Purt, though, described them as “robust” if “challenging”.

Even more controversially he said: “Across the whole of Hywel Dda the choice was Glangwili”.

The chair of the health board, Peter Higson too is an interesting figure.

He said in June he would look into allegations put to him by the BBC Wales TV current affairs programme Week In, Week Out, but he was not aware of any “undue concern”.

Dr Higson has faced severe criticism over his time as chair of the Health Care Inspectorate Wales.

There have also been questions about the future of the Welsh health minister Mark Drakeford, who remains in position although the Tawel Fan scandal erupted on his watch.

Now attention has turned to Brecon War Memorial Hospital.

The original story about the hospital was first broken by The Eye but has since been covered by the mainstream media.

But perhaps an extended police inquiry is part of ensuring ‘patient safety’.

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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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News

Aberglasney Gardens delighted to win 2022 Trip advisor Travellers’ Choice Award

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ABERGLASNEY Gardens is thrilled to have been recognised by Tripadvisor as a 2022 Travellers’ Choice Award winner for being in the top 10% of attractions worldwide.

The Award recognises businesses that consistently deliver great service with the Gardens being rated ‘Excellent’ by 342 visitors.

The award celebrates businesses that have received great traveller reviews from around the globe on Tripadvisor over the last 12 months. As challenging as the past year has been, Aberglasney stood out by consistently delivering positive experiences to visitors.

Aberglasney’s Director of Operations Jim Stribling said: “We are delighted to have once again won an award from Tripadvisor. It is fantastic recognition for the team’s hard work and dedication. To rank among the top ten percent of those listed on Trip Advisor as one of the best places to visit is outstanding.

“We are grateful to all those who take the time to leave us a review after visiting. It is no cliché when I say all the team, be it in the gift shop, the gardeners, the tearooms and the administrative team, all take the reviews on board to help make a visit to Aberglasney the best possible experience for everyone.”

Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel guidance platform, helps hundreds of millions of people each month become better travellers, from planning, to booking, to taking a trip. Travelers across the globe use the Tripadvisor site and app to discover where to stay, what to do and where to eat based on guidance from those who have been there before.

With more than 988 million reviews and opinions of nearly eight million businesses, travellers turn to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodation, book experiences, reserve tables at restaurants and discover great places nearby.

As a travel guidance company available in 43 markets and 22 languages, Tripadvisor makes planning easy no matter the trip type.

“Congratulations to the 2022 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Winners,” said Kanika Soni, Chief Commercial Officer at Tripadvisor. “The Travellers’ Choice Awards recognise the best in tourism and hospitality, according to those who matter most: your guests.

“Ranking among the Travellers’ Choice winners is always tough – but never more so than this year as we emerge from the pandemic. Whether it’s using new technology, implementing safety measures, or hiring outstanding staff, I’m impressed by the steps you’ve taken to meet travellers’ new demands. You’ve adapted brilliantly in the face of adversity.”

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Education

Council’s plan to expand bilingual education will be a gradual journey over 10 years

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Carmarthenshire County Council

CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s vision to increase bilingual education in Carmarthenshire will be a gradual journey over 10 years.

The Cabinet met yesterday (Monday, July 4) to discuss the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP), and emphasised that it was important to give all children and young people the opportunity to develop their Welsh language skills.

However, members stressed that families will still have a choice on the language in which their children will be taught over the next decade and after 2032.

The plan sets out how the council will develop Welsh language provision in schools based on the outcomes and targets set by the Welsh Government.

All councils across Wales have to submit 10-year Welsh language education plans to the Welsh Government in order to meet its target of one million Welsh speakers by 2050.

The outcomes include more nursery and reception children being taught through the medium of Welsh; more young people studying for qualifications in Welsh as a subject, and subjects through the medium of Welsh; increasing provision for learners with Additional Learning Needs; and increasing the number of teachers able to teach Welsh and through the medium of Welsh – with continuing support to develop staff through a comprehensive and flexible training programme.

The Cabinet said it was important for the council to provide more opportunities to be bilingual and referred to the various benefits it brings – from educational attainment to employability and health.

Cabinet Member for Education and Welsh Language, Cllr Glynog Davies said the aim was to meet and exceed the target set by Welsh Government on the percentage of Carmarthenshire pupils receiving their education through the medium of Welsh by 3032 (10-14%).

It included changing the language provision at 10 schools over the next 10 years creating an opportunity for a further 300 learners to be educated in Welsh.

He said: “We want to build on the progress made in early years education provision, and my ambition is clear – equal opportunities across the county.

“It is worth noting that we have the largest percentage 57.5 percent of nursery age children taught through the medium of Welsh. Immersion education is key to the strategy, and it is important that we continue to see an increase in the percentage of children transferring from the Meithrin groups to Welsh-medium education in the Foundation Phase.

“These early years are so important, the children are like sponges, absorbing information and absorbing a new language.

“We must then continue to see an increase in numbers in our reception classes, we say this even though we are the authority with the largest percentage (62.5 percent) of children receiving their education through the medium of Welsh.

“Children must continue to improve their Welsh when going from one school phase to another, and we need to make sure all children have the opportunity to pursue their secondary education through the medium of Welsh.

“At the same time, we need to give children and young people the confidence to use Welsh, in school and in the community. That’s what we want to see isn’t it, more and more using Welsh, hearing Welsh on the street. We need to develop and build on skills and confidence.”

Cabinet Member for Rural Affairs and Planning Policy, Cllr Ann Davies said: “I am extremely pleased to see this document and have a pleasure in supporting it. Working with young children, that is children under three-years-old, I can say that children pick up language very quickly, they absorb it, and the process is very different to learning a language. As they get older the process in the brain is completely different. I am pleased to see that there is an emphasis on early years, that is when we need to start.”

Cabinet Member for Resources, Cllr Alun Lenny said: “It is very important to state that there are many advantages to learning a language, obviously for careers, especially in health and social care where patients and clients must have a choice of language, it’s important particularly for older people, and young children, and people with dementia.

“The Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police has stated he is keen for all his staff to speak a certain level of Welsh, so we have a duty here to support that.

“The advantages of being bilingual are multiple, socially and in the world of work, and this strategy is very much welcomed.”

The WESP has come back to the cabinet for discussion following feedback from the Welsh Government, mainly to include some additional data and detail. It will now be submitted to the Welsh Government for final approval. A public consultation was held last year.

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