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  1. Nick Powell

New council map announced in shake-up proposal

The Welsh Government is proposing eight new counties, with the option of Conwy and Denbighshire forming a separate authority. Credit: Welsh Government

The Welsh Government has published its plans to shake up local government. The current 22 local authorities would be replaced by either eight or nine new councils, with the only question left open is whether north Wales should have two councils or three.

The plans go further than the Williams Commission proposals for between 10 and 12 councils. The idea of following health board boundaries has also been rejected, with Bridgend grouped with Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil rather than Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.

But to get its plans through, Labour will have to win an outright majority at next year's Assembly election or do a deal with another party. All the opposition parties have other ideas so today's map is not yet a done deal.

This announcement provides further clarity on the future configuration of local authorities in Wales. It sets out our preference for the future structure in south, mid and west Wales while facilitating further discussion around north Wales. The case in north Wales is finely balanced between two or three local authorities. We therefore feel that there is a case for a further debate and would welcome views. I want to emphasise this is not a final decision. It is the next phase in our public debate.

– Public Service Minister Leighton Andrews AM

The full list of proposed mergers is:

  • Gwynedd, Anglesey and Conwy
  • Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham
  • Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire
  • Swansea and Neath Port Talbot
  • Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil
  • Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan
  • Newport, Monmouthshire, Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly

Powys would remain unchanged and the option of merging Conwy and Denbighshire into an additional county is also on offer.

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Wales has 'lowest survival rate' from sudden cardiac arrest

Wales has one of the lowest rates of survival from sudden cardiac arrest with nearly 8000 people dying unnecessarily each year.

Immediate CPR and defibrillation with an AED increases chance of survival of sudden cardiac arrest to 50%. Credit: PA

More people die in the UK from sudden cardiac arrest each year, than breast cancer, lung cancer, HIV and AIDs combined.

Heart rhythm charity Arrhythmia Alliance are calling on Government, politicians, healthcare professionals, emergency services and the public to take action in helping to save the many lives lost to sudden cardiac death.

Every six minutes someone in the UK suffers a sudden cardiac arrest and their chance of survival is less than 10% - in Wales less than 3% - yet in many other countries this person would have a 50% chance of life.

This has to change, so we have asked why is this happening and what can be done to save these lives.

– Trudie Lobban, Arrhythmia Alliance

When someone collapses with a sudden cardiac arrest the time taken to shock the heart back to a normal rhythm can be critical and for every minute without defibrillation the chance of survival decreases by 10%.

City centre hotel re-opens after virus outbreak

A hotel in Cardiff city centre that closed its doors to guests due to a virus outbreak has reopened.

Environmental Health officers said the hotel had now been "deep cleaned" following the 26 cases of gastroenteritis - a stomach bug.

We can confirm that the hotel has now re-opened and we are satisfied with actions taken. We will continue to work closely with The Angel Hotel over the next week and acknowledge the co-operation we have received during this investigation.

– Cardiff Council

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Health board in police probe suspends staff

A north Wales health board says a police investigation is underway into spending on a hospital redevelopment.

Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

The Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board, which was recently placed in special measures, says two members of staff have been suspended while the investigation is underway.

In a statement on its website the health board says the inquiry is focusing on capital spending in 2014 where there were "concerns" over the costs of redevelopment at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.

The Health Board took swift action to initiate an audit review of the scheme and subsequently referred matters to NHS counter fraud services.

An investigation involving NHS counter fraud services and North Wales Police is, we understand, ongoing.

Two members of staff are suspended whilst this investigation progresses.

– Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board

North Wales Police have yet to comment on the investigation.

First annual statement issued on Welsh NHS

The statement is the first of its kind into the Welsh NHS Credit: PA

The first NHS Wales Annual Quality Statement is released today.

It comes after a 12-month period that has seen serious concerns raised about the NHS, from the care of mental health patients in north Wales to hospital A&Es missing government waiting time targets.

Despite this, the report says the service is doing well and improvements are being made.

Publicity campaign begins for organ donation changes in Wales

The next phase of the public information campaign about the new system of organ donation in Wales starts this week.

Credit: PA

Television, radio and digital adverts will be broadcast and all homes in Wales will receive an information pack to encourage people to start thinking about their organ donation choices.

The most recent survey of public attitudes towards the changes shows that the proportion of adults aware of them has increased from 57% in June 2014 to 63% in March 2015.

We hope this new law will help save lives by transforming attitudes towards consent to organ donation here in Wales.

It's great to see awareness of the organ donation law change is increasing. As we move into the next phase of the public awareness campaign, we hope people will continue talking to their loved ones about their organ donation choices.

– Mark Drakeford, Health and Social Services Minister

The new Wales-only soft opt-out system of organ donation comes into being on 1 December 2015.

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