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'Flying doctors' service to be introduced next year

A new 'flying doctors' service for Wales has been announced by the Welsh Government, representing new means for critically ill and injured people to transported to hospital by road and air.

The service will be operational in spring next year.

The Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service Cymru is the first national service of its kind in the UK and has been developed using the latest evidence from military and civilian experience.

It is thought the service could contribute to at least a 40 per cent improvement in survival rates from major trauma across the country and could reduce transfer times to specialist hospital care by the same percentage.

The service will be able to reach around 95 per cent of the population of Wales by air from the two bases out of Swansea and Welshpool and will be operational by April 2015.

This new service will transform our ability to provide the very best care to the most critically-ill patients in Wales. It will provide patients in remote and rural areas of Wales with rapid access to the skills of a consultant in emergency or intensive care medicine, who are equipped to provide life-saving, specialist critical care.

Our aim for specialist emergency services in Wales is for the most seriously-injured and sick patients to be treated by the very best clinicians, providing world-class, life-saving treatment.

These highly-specialised services will be provided at a fewer number of hospitals in the future but they will be supported by a wider network of local hospitals, offering people access to local accident and emergency care.

– Vaughan Gething AM, Deputy Health Minister


Welsh poet Dannie Abse dies at the age of 91

He was made a CBE by the Prince of Wales for services to poetry and literature in 2012. Credit: PA

Welsh poet and author Dr Dannie Abse, the one-time winner of the Wales Book of the Year award, has died at 91.

The writer, who recently lived in north London, was once hailed as being "at the top of the Welsh tree" by the country's literary body and named a CBE for his talents in the 2012 New Year Honours.

His agent Robert Kirby said on Twitter: "Very sad news Dannie Abse has died. A great poet and a good friend."

Publisher Hutchinson, which is due to release what will now be the writer's last collection of poetry, added: "We're so saddened by the death of the wonderful Dannie Abse. His poems will live on."

Abse was able to combine his writing with a career as a doctor, aspects of his life that, together with his Jewish background and Welsh nationality, formed integral themes in his poetry.

Protesters hold demonstration against air strikes

Anti-war protesters have held a demonstration in Cardiff city centre against the government's decision to launch air strikes in Iraq.

MPs gave the green light for military action in the Commons on Friday by 524 votes to 43.

Campaigners say military intervention to take down Islamic State militants is not the answer.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed over the weekend that RAF tornado jets have flown over Iraq but no bombs have been dropped.


More flexible tax powers on offer for Wales

The Welsh Secretary says the UK government will rewrite its plans for more devolution in order to give Wales the prospect of more control over income tax than had previously been offered.

Speaking at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham, Stephen Crabb said he will remove the proposed controversial 'lockstep' system for varying income tax rates.

Under that system, any change in one band of tax would have an equal impact on other bands.

If Wales were to get these powers, the government could vary any band of tax without that restriction.

He said he will ask tomorrow for the Wales Bill to be amended to remove restrictions on income tax powers.

Triple celebration for Porthdinllaen RNLI

A celebration is taking place on the Llyn Peninsula as crews at Porthdinllaen RNLI name their new Tamar class lifeboat.

That's not the only thing to cheer about - they're opening the new boathouse and marking 150 years of saving lives at sea.

Since arriving at the station in August 2012, the Tamar class lifeboat John D Spicer has launched on service 32 times to help those in trouble at sea.

The lifeboat will be officially named John D Spicer - in memory of the lifeboat’s main benefactor - by TV commentator David Dimbleby.

The £2.7M lifeboat has been funded as a result of generous legacies left to the charity from RNLI supporters.

A new £9.8M boathouse was built to house the new lifeboat and has proven to be a star tourist attraction on the Llyn Peninsula since opening its doors at Easter.

Ken Fitzpatrick, Porthdinllaen Lifeboat Operations Manager said:

"Today is a very proud day for all involved at Porthdinllaen RNLI; it’s a chance for us all to see how much we have achieved over the last two years and look ahead to the station’s bright future."

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