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Dating websites and apps linked to rise in syphilis cases

Public Health Wales says a rise in syphilis could be linked to casual sex arranged through dating sites and apps Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

An increase in cases of syphilis across Wales could be linked to the use of dating websites and mobile phone apps for casual sex, according to Public Health Wales.

Thirty-nine cases of the bacterial infection have been reported in North Wales since the middle of 2013, compared with a usual average of around seven per year.

In South Wales, 55 cases have been reported so far this year.

A Public Health Wales spokesperson said: "There is evidence that the infection is spreading particularly quickly in people who use dating websites and apps to meet other people for casual sex."

RCP: 'E-cigarettes are way out of smoking for so many'

Professor John Britton, chair of the Royal College of Physicians' Tobacco Advisory Group, said the doctors group disagrees with the Welsh Government's plans to ban e-cigarettes from enclosed public spaces "simply because electronic cigarettes are the way out of smoking for so many smokers."

He said "it's inappropriate to use tobacco legislation" for the vapour devices.

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Ambulance Service: More 999 calls and handover delays

The Welsh Ambulance Service has responded to criticism over its failure to meet its response time targets for the most urgent calls.

It says its response times have been affected by an increase in the number of calls received, and "lengthy handover delays at some hospitals."

The service says it recognises the fact that it does not always meet its targets, but says it is working as hard as possible to provide the best treatment for patients.

The Welsh Ambulance Service took 36,544 calls in May, up by more than 1,350 calls from the previous month and more than 1,700 calls from the same period last year.

The emergency healthcare system across Wales is facing continuous pressure with an ageing population and more people suffering long-term conditions.

An increase in the most serious type of emergency calls combined with lengthy handover delays at some hospitals has had an impact on our response times to incidents, and we would like to recognise the hard work, commitment and dedication of all our staff during this difficult time.

We recognise that on occasion we are short of the eight-minute target for the most serious calls, but are working, and will continue to work, as hard as we can to get to patients as quickly as possible.

We are committed to improving ambulance services in Wales as outlined in our clinical transformation and modernisation programme, Working Together for Success.

– Mike Collins, Director of Service Delivery, Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust

It also urges the public to use the most appropriate NHS services, and says "please remember only to dial 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk."

Plaid Cymru: Ambulance response times 'disastrous'

Plaid Cymru's Health spokeswoman Elin Jones is calling the latest ambulance service response times "disastrous", after it again failed to meet response targets.

These disastrous figures show that the Labour Welsh Government has once again failed to meet its target. This is the worst performance in over a year and reflects Labour's failure to properly run the health service.

Behind these statistics are real patients who have waited too long for life saving emergency treatment and have had their health suffer as a result.

– Elin Jones AM, Plaid Cymru Health Spokeswoman

Welsh Govt: 'Urgent improvements needed' in Ambulance Service

by Lynn Courtney

According to official figures released today, the Welsh Ambulance Service has again failed to meet its response time targets.

In May, 54.1 per cent of ambulances reached life threatening incidents in eight minutes down from 56.7 per cent in April and below the target of 65 per cent.

Ambulance response times for May are very disappointing. There is more health boards can do to help but the Welsh Ambulance Service itself needs to demonstrate urgent improvements in its performance.The key elements of the McClelland review have now been put in place. Welsh Government investment has upgraded the ambulance fleet. In this financial year, an extra £7.5m has been agreed, which will allow the recruitment of more than 100 frontline staff. It is now for the Welsh Ambulance Service to turn all this into the required standard of performance.

– Welsh Government Spokesperson

The Welsh Conservatives are blaming a lack of investment from Labour ministers and a failure to address logjams at A&E departments.

Another month and another fall in ambulance response times in the Labour run Welsh NHS. Labour Ministers have missed their ambulance response time target for critical category A life threatening calls almost every month for the past two years. An immediate medical response to a heart attack, stroke or serious accident can make the difference between life and death.

– Darren Millar AM, Shadow Health Minister

The Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams is labelling the figures as a "national disgrace".

Targets aren't being met. Ambulance response times are getting worse. Year after year, month after month, this situation is getting worse but the Welsh Labour Government is still failing to do anything about it.

– Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats

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Welsh Govt: No proposals to cut consultants' pay

The Welsh Government has responded to a warning from the British Medical Association that the NHS here faces a "stark future", insisting that there are no proposals to cut consultants' pay in Wales.

Read More: BMA says consultants here could earn 5% less than elsewhere in UK

We have received the pay review body’s recommendation and are working with representatives from professional bodies and trades unions about how an equivalent sum to that being made available in England can be distributed to NHS staff in Wales.

There are no proposals to cut consultants’ pay. We share BMA Wales’ aim of continuing to improve healthcare, but regret it has been unable to come to the table to negotiate with NHS Employers in Wales about the reform of terms and conditions in the Welsh consultants’ contract.

In the absence of Welsh discussions, which we would very much have preferred, we are now considering how we can ensure that comparable opportunities are available to consultants in Wales as to their colleagues in England.

When it comes to spending on health the BMA has got its figures wrong. Wales actually spends £42 more per head of population on health than England.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

BMA warns of 'stark future' for healthcare in Wales

Doctors group the British Medical Association has issued a severe warning, saying the NHS in Wales is "facing a very stark future that threatens to scar our nation."

BMA Welsh council chairman Dr Philip Banfield was speaking at the trade union's annual conference in Harrogate.

He said that the Welsh Government plans to cut the salaries of consultants which could mean that they will earn 5 per cent less than their counterparts in the UK, and warned the move "will worsen the continuing recruitment crisis in Wales."

The BMA has warned that salary cuts would deter consultants and other healthcare staff from coming to work in Wales.

The BMA received over 450 unsolicited emails and letters working in Wales, expressing their dismay at the proposal.

Dr Banfield said: "Financial targets still take precedence over clinical priorities, our doctors, nurses and other front-line clinical staff have morale at an all-time low, stress at an all-time high – and this, as we have seen, is when mistakes happen and patients die unnecessarily."

Doctors group: E-cigarettes could help cut smoking

The Royal College of Physicians says "e-cigarettes could lead to significant falls in the prevalence of smoking".

While it supports regulation of electronic cigarettes, the doctors group does not support the Welsh Government's plans to ban the use of e-cigs in enclosed public places.

The RCP says: "On the basis of available evidence, the RCP believes that e-cigarettes could lead to significant falls in the prevalence of smoking, prevent many deaths and episodes of serious illness, and help to reduce the social inequalities in health that tobacco smoking currently exacerbates."

Read More: Welsh Government proposes ban on e-cigs in enclosed public places

It has published its response to the Welsh Government's consultation, saying:

  • Electronic cigarettes and other novel nicotine devices can provide an effective, affordable and readily available retail alternative to conventional cigarettes
  • These new products present potential risks as well as opportunities for health, and therefore the RCP advocates proportionate regulation
  • Regulation should ensure that products deliver nicotine effectively and safely, that advertising and promotion do not target young people or other non-smokers, and that advertising and use (for example, in public places) do not undermine smoking prevention policies
  • The RCP supports regulation of electronic cigarettes - and close monitoring of their use is essential to ensure trends counter to public health are identified and acted upon

Doctors group questions e-cigarette public ban plans

Doctors group the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in Wales has published its response to the Welsh Government's proposal to ban the use of e-cigarettes in public places.

It says it doesn't support a ban because the devices can help people give up conventional cigarettes. But it does support better regulation and a ban on the sale of electronic cigarettes to people under 18.

The Royal College of Physicians argues e-cigarettes can help people avoid the dangers of tobacco. Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

The RCP says smoking accounts for approximately 5,450 deaths every year in Wales where it is estimated that 14,500 young people a year take up smoking.

The Welsh Government has said there is a risk e-cigarettes could 'normalise' smoking once again. It say it will consider all responses to its consultation in due course.

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