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Wales issues more free prescriptions than rest of UK

by Rob Osborne, Health and Social Affairs Correspondent
Prescriptions
Wales issues more free prescriptions than anywhere else in the UK Credit: Julien Behal/PA Wire

More prescription drugs are being handed out to patients in Wales than any other part of the UK, according to statistics out today.

Free prescriptions have been available for everyone in Wales since 2007 and the number of drugs prescribed has continued to rise since then.

In the 10 years between 2003/04 and 2013/14, the number of prescribed items in Wales increased by 48.8 per cent to 76.3million. Half of all items prescribed in Wales are for the treatment of cardiovascular and central nervous system conditions.

Most items were prescribed in the Cwm Taf Health Board area, covering the Rhondda and Cynon Valleys, Pontypridd and Merthyr Tydfil. The lowest number of prescriptions were issued in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.

Decision due over ambulance strike action

Ambulance
Ambulance staff could begin the process of strike action Credit: ITV Wales

Union officials will meet Welsh Ambulance Service staff later to decide whether to start the process of strike action.

ITV News understands the GMB union will also decide to have a vote of no confidence in the Welsh Ambulance Trust.

Sources say front line staff are ready to walk out in a dispute over working practices.

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'Very difficult' to discuss mental health in workplace

Paul Booth is a successful businessman. He also has bipolar disorder and now campaigns for an overhaul in workplace mental health.

A lot of people who didn't have a diagnosed condition would come to me and say, 'you're so brave. I've got a condition but I don't tell anybody because I know it would kill my career'. That was mentioned to me numerous times.

In South Africa, as long as it was out in the open, it was like there was no elephant in the room, nothing waiting to come out. It would be very difficult to be that open about my condition in the UK. I think I would struggle to get a job, to be honest.

– Paul Booth

Read: Workers 'fear disclosing mental health conditions'

Workers 'fear disclosing mental health conditions'

Woman with head in hands
More than three-quarters of those surveyed said they would be worried to raise a mental health issue at work. Credit: David Cheskin/PA Wire

More than three-quarters of people in Wales would worry about disclosing a mental health condition at work, according to a new survey.

Research from the Priory Group found that people would be reluctant to mention a condition for fear of a negative reaction from their employer.

It believes more than 130,000 people in Wales diagnosed with a mental health condition may be suffering in silence.

There's a huge amount of stigma out there, especially in the workplace. I've had numerous cases where people have been sacked because of their depression; they've been discriminated against because of a mental illness.

I think the big thing is the impact of stigma. People generally say that the stigma of having a diagnosed mental illness can be as bad as the symptoms that they actually experience.

– Dr Richard Bowskill, Priory Group Consultant Psychiatrist

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Ambulance staff considering strike action, says union

by Rob Osborne, Health and Social Affairs Correspondent
Ambulance
A union has told ITV News ambulance staff are ready to strike Credit: ITV News

A union has told ITV News it is to hold discussions next week over strike action in the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Senior sources have said that staff have "had enough and are ready to walk."

It's also understood that proposals to hold a vote of no confidence in the Welsh Ambulance Trust will also form part of the discussions.

It comes in the week when it was revealed that hundreds of patients have been taken to hospital by police in the past few years. One police officer has spoken to ITV Wales about his experiences, saying he feels compelled to speak out. He wishes to remain anonymous.

In the last two years , I've seen a dramatic rise in the amount of calls where we ask for an ambulance only to be told we're on a waiting list because there are no crews available.

There are police officers trained as first responders going to calls of a baby struggling to breathe, possible heart attacks. It just isn't right.

It's not the fault of the frontline ambulance staff. The bosses should be held accountable - people are dying.

– Anonymous police source

The ambulance service says it 'works closely in partnership with police forces across Wales to reduce instances where other emergency services are awaiting an ambulance response.'

Charity warns thousands of cancer patients are 'lonely'

Lonely woman on bench
Research found 16% of people in Wales have been lonely since their diagnosis Credit: PA

New research from charity Macmillan Cancer Support has found one in six cancer patients in Wales suffers with loneliness as a result of the disease - that's more than 19,000 people.

The charity estimates thousands of people are missing appointments, not taking their medicine properly and even refusing some types of treatment.

It's hard enough for people being hit with the devastating news that they have cancer, without having to suffer the additional effects that being lonely brings. This is a growing problem which is only set to get worse as the number of people diagnosed with cancer in Wales doubles from 120,000 to 240,000 in the next 20 years.

From the results of the recent Wales Cancer Patient Experience Survey, we know that not all people living with cancer are getting a key worker, an assessment and written care plan and the information and support they need. Macmillan Wales would like Health Boards and the Welsh Government to ensure these things are available to all cancer patients, as outlined in the Cancer Delivery Plan, to help them to face cancer with all of the support they need.

– Susan Morris, Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales

The Welsh Government says it's important services do what they can to support those who need it.

Officers 'sometimes' transport people to hospital

Gwent Police say that officers are 'sometimes' required to transport casualties to hospital, rather than waiting for an ambulance.

Ambulances
Gwent Police say they work closely with all emergency services Credit: ITV News Wales

Gwent Police works closely with all emergency services and together we take all necessary and appropriate steps to put the safety and wellbeing of members of the public first. Officers dealing with fast moving emergency situations do sometimes need to transport casualties to hospital rather than wait for an ambulance. Officers clearly do not have the same level of training as the Ambulance Service, however our duty to protect and reassure comes first and foremost.

– Gwent Police statement

The Welsh Ambulance service says it's working with other emergency services to reduce waiting times.

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Charity: Aspirin complications must be considered

The possible side affects of aspirin must be examined before it can be widely used as a cancer prevention method, the charity Cancer Research UK has said.

A new study suggests people who take a daily dose of aspirin could significantly reduce their risk of cancer.

"Aspirin is showing promise in preventing certain types of cancer, but it's vital that we balance this with the complications it can cause - such as bleeding, stomach ulcers, or even strokes in some people," Dr Julie Sharp, head of health information at the charity said.

"Before aspirin can be recommended for cancer prevention some important questions need to be answered, including what is the best dose and how long people should take it for. And tests need to be developed to predict who is likely to have side effects."

Read: Aspirin one of 'most important factors in cutting cancer'

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