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Non-urgent ambulance calls: Woman dialled ‘999’ because she needed lift home

The Welsh Ambulance Service is encouraging people to choose the appropriate service for their healthcare needs after more than 31,000 non-urgent calls were received in the last year.

The calls included:

  • A man who dialled 999 because he had a fly in his ear (Milford Haven, June 2014)
  • A woman who had eaten cherries and felt constipated (Porth, August 2013)
  • A man who had discovered a bruise on his foot (Tywyn, November 2013)
  • A woman who asked whether the green part of a potato was poisonous (Bangor, November 2013)
  • A man with a ring stuck on his finger (Burry Port, June 2014)
  • A woman whose boiler had broken and had no credit to call the gas board (Swansea, October 2013)
  • A woman who dropped a television remote and needed someone to pick it up (Llandudno, December 2013)
  • A woman who didn't have enough money to buy a train ticket (Newport, March 2014)
  • A man with a cotton bud stuck in his ear (Bridgend, August 2013)
  • A mother whose daughter had drunk water from a dog bowl (Swansea, December 2013)
  • A woman who was intoxicated and needed a lift home (St Asaph, April 2014)
  • A woman who needed advice because she had fallen out with her brother (Hereford,November 2013)
  • A man with blisters on his foot(Penmaenmawr, January 2014)
  • A woman with a cast on her leg and wanted it taken off (Tredegar, January 2014)

Morriston Hospital 'ahead of the game' with new surgery procedures

New hi-tech orthopaedic surgery is being used at Morriston Hospital to help improve the care and treatment received by patients.

The new approach to surgery involves an MRI or CT scan of the patient's joint.

Today Health Minister Mark Drakeford will visit the hospital to speak to staff and patients.

"This is a good example of using technology to improve the care and treatment patients receive. By using the most advanced procedures available the time patients are in surgery is shortened, reducing the risk of infection and helping to improve overall waiting times.

"This collaborative approach between Morriston Hospital and Biomet is increasingly important to the modern Welsh NHS."

– Mark Drakeford, Health Minister for Wales

Surgeons from the hospital have described the new approach to surgery as 'something to shout about.'

"This is a feather in the cap for Morriston Hospital and for Wales and has been made possible by enthusiastic team involvement, particularly in theatre.

"We are really ahead of the game here and it is something for Wales to shout about."

– David Woodnutt, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

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30,000 non-urgent calls to Welsh ambulance service in last year

Smartphone dialling 999
The ambulance service advises callers to use NHS direct for minor injuries. Credit: PA

The Welsh Ambulance Service is reminding people not to call 999 unless it is a genuine emergency.

The service says it took 31,219 non-urgent calls in the last 12 months alone.

Of those calls, only 670 required an ambulance, and just three needed a patient to be taken to hospital.

They included a woman who dialled 999 to ask if the green part of a potato was poisonous, and a caller whose daughter had drunk water from a dog's bowl.

The Welsh Ambulance Service says it's working hard to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions, and support care close to patient's homes.

"We don't want to deter anyone from calling 999, but we want them to think twice before they do. Sadly, we still receive a significant number of inappropriate calls that do not require an ambulance response.

"When people misuse the service it means our precious time is being taken away from someone who really does need our help. During peak periods, like the summer, every non-essential call has the potential to delay a response to a serious emergency."

– Richard Lee, Head of Clinical Services

Hi-tech surgery leads the way at Morriston Hospital

Shot of nurse looking at x ray
The new approach to surgery hopes to cut waiting times and reduce infection for patients Credit: PA

Patients at Morriston Hospital are benefitting from new high-tech orthopaedic surgery, which it's hoped will reduce the risk of infection and help cut waiting times.

The standard procedure for knee replacement surgery is for all implant sizes and equipment to be provided to the operating theatre. These are then used on a trial and error basis until the correct size for the patient can be identified.

But surgeons at Morriston Hospital are now using a new technique - an MRI or CT scan is taken of the patient's joint, which is then used to customise the size and position of the implant.

This means the time in theatre can be reduced by up to a half, which in turn cuts waiting times and equipment costs.

Today Health Minister Mark Drakeford will visit patients and staff at the hospital, and see where hip and knee replacement surgery takes place.

The hospital is working closely with Biomet - a global orthopaedics company which has it's UK headquarters in Bridgend, to use the latest techniques to improve treatments.

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What resources are available for cyclists in Wales?

by Rosie Mercer
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Various resources are available throughout Wales to help develop more confident and experienced cyclists

While the Welsh Government focuses on increasing the number of cyclists in Wales through its new Active Travel Act, our local authorities are tasked with the challenge of making cycling more accessible.

Below is a list of the resources which are available in Wales, to help us to gain the confidence and skills we might need to get on our bikes.

Please contact your local authority offices if you would like more information about the support which is available to cyclists in your area.

Road safety training A number of local authorities in Wales, including Cardiff Council and Powys Council, offer free road safety classes for adults. If you’re based in Caerphilly, The Caerphilly Travel Hub offers free cycle training for adults and children on Wednesday afternoons.

If you work in either Pontypridd, Cardiff or Caerphilly, you may also be entitled to free cycle training as part of the Smarter Journeys to Work Project

www.sustrans.org.uk/wales/what-we-do/workplaces

And if you don’t qualify for free cycle training, then CTC and Cycle Training Wales both offer some great value cycle training packages.

www.ctc.org.uk www.cycletrainingwales.org.uk

Route Planning Google Maps offer clear and up to date route planning for cyclists. Simply enter the location that you wish to travel to, choose ‘Cycling’ as your mode of transport, and Google Maps will demonstrate a variety of cycle routes along with an estimated journey time. It can also highlight cycle trails, cycle-friendly roads and the types of terrain that you might encounter.

Visit Wales have also compiled a list of the most picturesque cycle routes in Wales, including the Mawddach trail in Snowdonia and the Elan Valley Trail in Mid Wales.

www.visitwales.com/holidays-breaks/family-holidays/bike-riding-routes

Cycle to Work Scheme A growing number of employers across Wales are signed up to Cycle Scheme, a scheme that allows employees to obtain a free bicycle in order to cycle to work. To find out if your employer is signed up to this scheme, you should speak with your manager or HR department. If your employer is not signed up to the scheme but you’d like to invite them to join, you can find out how by visiting the Cycle Scheme website.

www.cyclescheme.co.uk

Bike MOT

Got a bike in the garage that’s gathering dust? Sustrans Cymru recommend you pay a visit to your local bike shop, who will offer services to get your bike back into shape for very reasonable prices. And if you work in Pontypridd, Caerphilly or Cardiff, you might also be entitled to free bike maintenance sessions as part of the Smarter Journeys to Work project.

www.sustrans.org.uk/wales/what-we-do/workplaces

Cycling Clubs

If you fancy a bit of company, The British Cycling Organisation has compiled a database of different cycling clubs across the UK. Simply select ‘Wales’ or enter your postcode and you can choose from a variety of cycling clubs across the country.

www.britishcycling.org.uk/clubfinder

For the Kids

Cycling proficiency classes are increasingly offered free of charge in schools. However, there are also a number of classes, activities and resources accessible for kids across Wales.

Beicio Cymru have outlined a few, including kids classes in Aberaeron and Carmarthenshire.

www.britishcycling.org.uk/wales/article/wcst-Welsh-Cycling-kids-activities

Sustrans have also produced a detailed webpage dedicated to children’s cycling, including information on where to cycle, how to stay safe and the different types of bike seats available.

www.sustrans.org.uk/change-your-travel/children-and-families/cycling-kids

Bike Security

North Wales police offer free bike marking at a variety of events, and launched their ‘Bicycle Watch’ scheme in 2012 which they encourage cyclists to join for free by visiting www.north-wales.police.uk.

South Wales police also offer free bike marking at a variety of events, which they announce via their Facebook page

www.facebook.com/SWPolice

They have also compiled a detailed webpage on how to keep your bike safe, available at

www.south-wales.police.uk/more-about-us/protect-bike/

For updates on road safety initiatives in Wales, check out:

www.roadsafetywales.co.uk

Wales leads the way with new Active Travel Act

by Alun Jones

Later this year the Welsh Government will implement a pioneering act which will place a requirement on local authorities to create and maintain so called Active Travel routes, for walking and cycling.

The aim of the act is simple - to increase the number of cyclists in Wales from a modest 2% of adults to a much fitter 10% by the year 2020. But many have been left questioning if our roads are ready for such an increase.

With increasing concern over issues of congestion, and ill health caused by some of the highest inactivity levels in Europe, many believe that the active travel act could offer multiple benefits. But with a total of one hundred deaths or serious injuries caused to cyclists in Wales last year, it is not without its risk.

Dr Rhodri Martin, from the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in South Wales, specialises in the benefits of exercise to our everyday health

"As a nation we are already suffering from a huge amount of chronic disease as a result of our inactivity levels. But by making it easy for people to cycle to work, by making people feel safe when they are cycling, little steps like that will help drive forward our physical activity levels"

– Dr Rhodri Martin, Medical Exercise Registrar

It is Dr Martin’s belief that the introduction of the active travel act could solve our inactivity problems and help to promote a fitter, more active nation, which could potentially lead to huge benefits to our health system.

Tonight, Andrea Byrne takes to two wheels to find out more about the Active travel Act, and to ask how safe our roads really are.

Wales This Week, Cycling’s New Roots is on Tonight at 8 on ITV Cymru Wales

Grey-Thompson: excruciating pain didn't make me suicidal

Welsh Paralympic athlete Tanni Grey-Thompson has told the House of Lords of her fear that legalising assisted dying for the terminally ill would lead to some disabled people feeling pressurised into ending their lives.

There is a myth that our lives are so tragic or painful that we must want to end them. Just this week I was told, “You must have wanted to kill yourself many times in your life”. No, I have not. I have experienced excruciating pain. When I was 19, I snapped a metal rod off my spine that came out through my skin, but I have never considered killing myself. The fact is, however, that many people expected that I would ask for that. What if those people were related to me?

Some of the cases highlighted in the media concern people who are not terminally ill and would supposedly not fit the terms of the Bill. However, this raises concerns that this is just the tip of the iceberg or an attempt to soften public opinion. The charity Care has shown that those who support the Bill in principle change their mind when they are presented with the reality of assisted suicide. Then the percentage of those who support it drops from 73% to 43%.

– Baroness Grey-Thompson
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