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Health minister: 'Indisputable evidence price of alcohol matters'

The health minister Mark Drakeford says today's report supports the view that a minimum unit pricing of alcohol will help prevent alcohol misuse in Wales.

The Welsh Government first introduced the proposals in a public health White Paper in April which also included a ban on e-cigarettes in public places.

"There is indisputable evidence that the price of alcohol matters. It is no coincidence that as the affordability of alcohol has improved substantially so has alcohol-related death and disease.

“A minimum unit price will make a strong contribution to preventing alcohol overuse and misuse and reducing alcohol-associated illnesses. The panel’s report supports this view. “We will now develop our proposals further with a view to introducing the Public Health Bill in early 2015.”

– Professor Mark Drakeford

Independent panel calls for minimum alcohol pricing

The Welsh Government should introduce the minimum unit pricing of alcohol, an independent health panel has recommended.

Red wine
Credit: PA Images

The Welsh Government’s Advisory Panel on Substance Misuse (APoSM)says it would help to address alcohol-related harm among people most affected by hazardous and harmful levels of drinking.

Wales has a higher rate of alcohol-related deaths than England. There were 504 alcohol-related deaths in 2012.

In the last 10 years, alcohol misuse accounted for more than 5,000 deaths in England and Wales.

“Alcohol health and social harm problems are preventable. Expert evidence and research confirms cheaper drinks are favoured by those who drink hazardously or harmfully, and a minimum unit price would have a disproportionate targeting effect on problematic drinking, reducing alcohol problems and achieving health and other benefits for individuals and our communities as a whole."

– Kyrie Ll James, chair of the Advisory Panel on Substance Misuse

Last year, the UK Government made a controversial u-turnon the issue due to a 'lack of convincing evidence' that it would have an impact on alcohol consumption.


People urged to check on elderly during hot weather

As the hot weather continues across the UK, one elderly care service is urging residents to check on neighbours who may need help during the heatwave.

Temperatures have reached 27C in some parts of Wales in the last few weeks Credit: PA Images

Elderly care specialist, Home Instead in Wales says the hot weather can pose serious health risks for the elderly as they are less able to regulate their body temperature. It says medication can have an impact too.

It says it's particularly important that they should keep their body temperature down during the day - especially if the night is going to be hot.

The Welsh Ambulance Service has also published advice on how to take care in the heat after experiencing an increase of calls across the country.

Public Health Wales advises that elderly or sick neighbours should be checked on every day if possible during hot weather.

It advises to do the following to help keep yourself and others cool:

· Keep indoor plants and bowls of water in the house - evaporation helps cool the air

· If possible, move into a cooler room, especially for sleeping

· Electric fans may provide some relief, but only use if necessary

· Remain in the coolest parts of the building as much as possible

· Keep rooms shaded and cool by closing blinds and curtains and opening windows

Wales makes progress in preventing E.coli outbreaks

Man washes hands
Good hygiene can prevent the spread of the bacteria Credit: PA

Key recommendations designed to prevent another E.coli outbreak in Wales have been adopted by Welsh councils.

An independent report, published today, looks into what progress has been made, following the Pennington Inquiry into an outbreak of the bacteria in South Wales in 2005.

The report found that the majority of Welsh councils had made good progress, and that the introduction of the food hygiene rating scheme in 2011 had had a positive effect.

"Local authorities have a very important role to play in helping to ensure food safety and to protect consumers from food fraud. I welcome the findings of the FSA's report - it is comprehensive and transparent and it identifies areas of work where good progress has been made and where further improvements are necessary."

"The introduction of a statutory food hygiene ratings Scheme in Wales has led to significant improvements in the proportion of food businesses which are broadly compliant with hygiene law."

– Mark Drakeford, Health Minister for Wales

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


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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