Cwm Taf University Health Board held its latest Board meeting on Wednesday November 1st at Ynysmeurig House in Abercynon. This was the first meeting of the Board in public, chaired by Professor Marcus Longley and for new Independent Members James Hehir, Paul Griffiths, Keiron Montague and Councillor Robert Smith. This bulletin contains a summary of the main issues but more information is available on these and other issues in the full Board papers which are available online.


The turf is cut for Macmillan and Cwm Taf’s new palliative care unit

Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, Vaughan Gething joined Macmillan and Cwm Taf University Health Board for a turf cutting event at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant on October 25th.

Macmillan is donating £5m to build a state-of-the-art Specialist Care Unit on the hospital site with the additional £2m contributed by Welsh Government through the All Wales Capital Programme. The eight-bed unit will provide inpatient, outpatient and palliative day care for people with incurable cancer and other conditions within the health board area of Rhondda and Taff Ely.

Palliative care for cancer patients in Rhondda and Taff Ely is currently provided at Y Bwthyn Pontypridd Cottage Hospital. Although the quality of care at Y Bwthyn is known to be excellent, its location means that patients need to be transferred to Royal Glamorgan Hospital to access specialist tests and treatments, which can be difficult and distressing. The unit will be Macmillan’s biggest investment in Wales and we are delighted as a Health Board to be working closely in partnership with Macmillan and supported by Welsh Government, to improve services for cancer patients.

Multi-million pound refurbishment of the ground and first floor of Prince Charles Hospital gets underway

The Health Board has secured £7.6m from Welsh Government to begin the first phase of work in October, which will see construction work start on the temporary catering facilities to pave the way for a new dining room and kitchens on the ground floor as well as a new pharmacy.

This first phase up to next Spring will consist mainly of enabling works to prepare for the big second phase which includes new theatres, a critical care unit, a full new radiology department and the bringing together of outpatient facilities from across the site combined with new therapies, endoscopy and maxillofacial facilities as part of a new ambulatory care centre. These larger developments are subject to further WG business cases which we hope to get decisions on later next year and will address the fire safety improvement work required within this part of the hospital.

Cwm Taf’s Winter Plan published

The health board has robust plans in place to respond to the anticipated increased pressures during the winter period and is working with local authorities, the ambulance services and other partners to ensure the best possible care for all patients.

The plan reflects a whole system approach to the delivery of services over the

winter; identifies the potential risks and aims to preserve planned operations as much as possible.

A range of actions are already underway including an increase in the hours of acute physicians working at the emergency department to triage patients; a dedicated space on both main hospital sites to protect minor injuries stream; and the Stay Well @home Team which includes a social worker, occupational therapists, occupational therapy technicians and physiotherapists working seven days a week 8am-8pm to provide assessments in A&E and support individuals to be discharged home.

The health’s board staff ‘flu vaccination campaign is also well underway and the communications team will be launching its local Choose Well campaign in November to encourage the public to use a range of alternative community healthcare services to reduce pressures on A&E.

Bridgend local government changes and implications for the health board

The Welsh Government has announced that it will begin a 12 week consultation this Autumn on the re-alignment of the Bridgend local authority boundary.

The proposal, as part its Local Government reforms, would also impact health board boundaries and transfer the management of Princess of Wales Hospital as well as primary and community services in the Bridgend area from Abertawe Morgannwg University Health Board into Cwm Taf University Health Board.

Whilst both Health Boards will be responding to the consultation and a decision will not be made until the New Year, Cwm Taf UHB is working closely with Abertawe Bro Morgannwg UHB on scoping the implications of any agreed change.

Until the Welsh Government makes a decision in January it will remain ‘business as usual’ in Cwm Taf.

Changes to Obstetric, Paediatric and Neonatal services

Early in the summer next year, the multi-million pound expansion of maternity and special care baby facilities at Prince Charles Hospital will be completed and the health board will be ready to implement some of the key changes set out in the South Wales Programme.

In 2014 the South Wales Programme (SWP), a major public consultation exercise spanning four health board areas, was set up to address the challenges faced by many hospitals in recruiting and retaining highly skilled staff in certain speciality areas. It concluded that obstetrics, paediatrics and emergency medicine would in future need to be provided at fewer hospitals across South Wales to ensure their sustainability and provide the best possible care for patients.

Consultant-led maternity and neonatal services as well as inpatient children’s services will no longer be delivered from the Royal Glamorgan Hospital. Instead the hospital in Llantrisant will provide a midwifery-led birthing centre as well as a new Paediatric Assessment Unit. To accommodate the changes, a major expansion is currently underway at Prince Charles Hospital and is due for completion in the middle of next year. More than £6m has been invested to increase the size of its special care baby unit to 19 cots, redevelop the obstetric labour ward, refurbish the birthing rooms, and provide two birthing pools.

As we firm up related timescales, we will further engage with our staff, stakeholders and those affected by these changes.

Cwm Taf’s directors go Back to the Frontline

Cwm Taf’s Chief Operating Officer Chris White works on the frontline with the blood sciences team

Directors at Cwm Taf University Health Board are back on the frontline of the NHS over the next few weeks, carrying out shifts alongside their colleagues across the health board.

The initiative, which has been extended to more senior managers this year, will be working in clinical and non-clinical departments, including A&E, theatres, community hospitals, pharmacies, catering and estates.

The initiative sees them actually working alongside colleagues in the same role to get a real feel for the work some of the nearly 8,000-strong workforce does every day.

Chief Operating Officer Chris White joined the blood sciences team (above) last week and Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Planning and Performance, Ruth Treharne has been working with the Stay Well @Home teams. Others are spending time with the Flying Start teams; in theatres, bed management and in mental health this year.

Keir Hardie University Health Park leads the news as beacon of future Healthcare

BBC Radio Wales broadcasted their anchor news programme ‘Good Morning Wales’ live from Keir Hardie University Health Park in September, as part of a special broadcast to mark the 20th anniversary of devolution in Wales.

The Health Park in Merthyr Tydfil, which is the first of its kind in Wales, took centre stage as a symbol of how healthcare has changed in Wales over the last two decades, integrating health and social care under one roof.

Cardiff University and Cwm Taf UHB join forces to create new course in health inequalities

Medical students are to study the causes of health inequalities as part of a degree course developed by Cwm Taf University Health Board. The optional module is being offered for the first time this month to the students following an intercalated BSc course at Cardiff University. Up to 10 medical students in their fourth year will take up the pioneering study at the Academic Centre at Keir Hardie University Health Park in Merthyr Tydfil.

Part of their studies include placements in clinics in Cwm Taf, with health checks teams at GP practices, drug addiction services, and visits to a food bank. They will study the impact of social deprivation and rural poverty on the health of communities, including marginalised groups – children in poverty, the elderly, ethnic minorities, immigrants and refugees who are particularly at risk of health inequalities.

Cardiovascular risk reduction programme extended further in Cwm Taf

Patients aged 40-74 at GP practices in Merthyr Tydfil and Pontypridd are being invited to a free Health Check as part of a programme aimed to identify and diagnose heart disease at a much earlier stage.

Up to 40 premature deaths could be prevented if the loss of life from cardiovascular disease in the Cwm Taf University Health Board area were reduced to the Welsh average. The programme is available to all patients aged 40-74 who are not already known to have a history of heart disease, stroke, diabetes or high blood pressure.

The intention is to reach all GP practices in the Health Board area by 2019 and around 2,330 people attended an assessment last year. The Cardiovascular Risk Reduction programme deploys healthcare support workers in GP practices who are trained to do the health check using software which calculates their risk and their ‘heart age’. Patients are sometimes shocked by their findings, for example, when their ‘heart age’ is found to be five to 10 years older than their actual age.

Framework for the Development of the Advanced Nurse Practitioner Role within Primary Care

The primary care team is implementing a collaborative training programme for Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANP) between GP practices, the out of hours GP service and the University of South Wales. A GP trainer from a well established training practice has provided the clinical leadership in respect of the design of this programme, which will offer a structured post registration career path for nurses.

The actual programme will require the nurses to attend Cardiff University for the MSc in Advanced Clinical Practice; work within a GP practice two days per week and work regular shifts within the out of hours service.

Taff Vale Branch Surgery moves from Pontypridd Health Centre to Dewi Sant Health Park

Following extensive engagement with the local community the Taff Vale Pontypridd Health Centre branch practice has now moved into the new Dewi Sant Health Park in Pontypridd.

The branch surgery within Pontypridd Health Centre has now closed fully and all services that were provided at the branch have been transferred to the Dewi Sant hospital site which is being developed into a health park. The areas of concern raised by the patients related to transport and parking and the health board continues to work with its partners to address any issues that remain outstanding.

Health Board performance on waiting times

Cwm Taf’s performance against the unscheduled care targets in September for the 4 hour target was 86.4%. This is compared to 89.2% overall for August.

The September performance for emergency ambulance services against the 15 minute handover target was 89.4%, which was an improvement on last month. This compares with 89.0% for August.

Performance against the Red Ambulance target was 80.1% for August, with the All Wales average being 78.5%.

Full details on all waiting times are available in the Board report here

News from the Board!