Category Archives: Wales News Online

There has been a rise in complaints against the Welsh NHS

A rise in complaints against Welsh NHS bodies is “concerning” and needs to be addressed with tougher legislation, the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales has warned.

A new annual report found that the number of health-related complaints in Wales increased from 798 in 2015-16 to 863 in 2016-17, a rise of 8%.

The report states that more than half (55%) of them were upheld or had some form of resolution in the last financial year.

Ombudsman Nick Bennett has now called on the Assembly to push forward with new legislation to help drive up standards of public service delivery.

He said complaints received about health now make up 38% of the ombudsman’s caseload and led to special “improvement officers” being hired in five of Wales’ health boards.

Public Services Ombudsman for Wales Nick Bennett

“The ongoing rise in complaints about NHS bodies is concerning,” he said.

“A significant factor is the high volume of complaints received about Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and my improvement officer will continue to work with the health board to ensure continued learning.

“There is evidence of a fear and blame culture still permeating some public sector bodies and my thematic report, Ending Groundhog Day: Lessons from Poor Complaint Handling, highlighted key areas for improvement.

“However, I’m pleased that following a health complaint seminar held by my office recently, it’s clear that health board staff are keen to strengthen governance, training and data collection arrangements to improve complaints handling.

“I would urge the Assembly to push forward with the new draft Ombudsman bill in the autumn. I am confident that if passed the new legislation will allow cycles of poor service delivery to be spotted more easily and dealt with greater efficiency.”

In total the ombudsman received 2,056 new complaints about public services in Wales and a further 236 code of conduct complaints against local government councillors.

The highest number of complaints in 2016-17 were directed at local authorities (881), followed by health boards (863), social housing (191), Welsh Government and its sponsored bodies (68) and community councils (28).

In contrast just three complaints were made to the ombudsman against the fire authorities and three against the police. But it must be noted that these two services have their own independent commissions which handle complaints.

The ombudsman said the overall number of inquiries and complaints has increased by 75% over the past six years.

The Welsh NHS Confederation, which represents Wales’ seven health boards, said: “NHS staff at all levels are committed to making sure that all patients receive the high standards of care that they deserve, delivering the best for patients – is the primary focus.

“While it is important to highlight that the majority of people who receive care and treatment from the NHS in Wales have a positive experience, it is also important that we recognise this is not always the case.

“When care does not meet the high standards which patients deserve and expect, we must hold its hands up and make sure action is taken to put things right.

“We strongly encourage anyone who is concerned about their care or treatment to talk to a senior staff member on duty as soon as possible so their concern can be dealt with immediately.

“The feedback and experiences of patients, their families and staff are critical in helping the NHS in Wales to provide the high standards of care that staff strive to deliver on a daily basis.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “We have not yet seen the ombudsman’s report but will consider it carefully when we do.

“All NHS bodies in Wales are working hard to prevent complaints and to deal with them appropriately when they arise.

“As well as the work already under way in the NHS we welcome the ombudsman’s assistance through the improvement officers he has put in place. Every complaint made to the NHS is taken seriously and we expect health boards to investigate them thoroughly.

“We value feedback and encourage concerns to be raised as soon as possible so they can be dealt with quickly and easily so services can continuously learn and improve.

“Across Wales we know that patient satisfaction with our NHS remains extremely high.

“It’s important to remember that every year the Welsh NHS deals with around 18m contacts in primary care, three million outpatient attendances each year and one million A&E attendances and 750,000 admissions to hospital.”


A hairdresser who had counterfeit superhero costumes and fake Pokemon toys for sale has been fined

A Cardiff hairdresser was found in possession of more than 1,500 illegal items including unsafe children’s costumes and counterfeit Pokemon toys, a court heard.

Andreas Lazarou, who has a barber shop in Tudor Street in Riverside , pleaded guilty to 12 charges when he appeared at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court .

A further 32 offences were taken into account.

Cardiff council said the charges stemmed from an investigation by the Shared Regulatory Services in July last year following information that shop Ialpha World, at 373 Cowbridge Road East, Canton , was selling counterfeit children’s fancy dress outfits.

On October 11 last year Ialpha World was raided by trading standards officers and 1,534 items were seized.

The shop was rented and run by a company called Ialpha Hair Ltd and Lazarou, from Hanson Court, Heol Glan Rheidol in Cardiff, was one of two directors that owned this company.

Samples from all the items taken were sent to specialists to find out if they were genuine and whether they met all safety requirements.

It was revealed that all of the children’s superhero costumes were counterfeit and samples from all of the other items failed at least one of the safety requirements, including drawstrings that were deemed to be a strangulation hazard and internal fibrous material that were deemed to be a choking hazard.

A later interview with Lazarou revealed that he was solely responsible for sourcing and purchasing all of the illegal items found by trading standards officers, the council said.

During the hearing in mitigation Lazarou’s representative Brendon O’Leary told the court that he was a hairdresser by trade and established Ialpha Hair Ltd as a separate venture to supplement his income.

Lazarou said he started the business without any knowledge or qualifications in the industry and did not know what he was getting himself into and the offences were a result of complete naivety.

Cardiff Magistrates' Court
Cardiff Magistrates’ Court

He bought the goods from the internet and believed they were legitimate and had even paid VAT when they were imported into the UK.

It was also made clear that Lazarou gave a full and frank interview under caution and provided trading standards with assistance throughout the investigation.

Lazarou was fined £350 for each offence relating to the counterfeit goods and £500 for each of the safety offences.

The total fine imposed was £5,400 and he was also ordered to pay £1,000 in costs and a victim surcharge of £50.

Councillor Michael Michael, cabinet member with responsibility for the Shared Regulatory Service between Bridgend , Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan councils, said: “This case shows how important it is to check and check again before importing goods from abroad to be sold in the UK.

“Safety standards are in place for a reason. I would like to thank all of the officers involved in this investigation.

“The fine imposed by the court sends a clear message that these offences are taken seriously.

“Our officers will continue to act on any intelligence we receive to take unsafe and counterfeit goods off the streets.”

Ialpha Hair Ltd went into liquidation on September 23, 2016.

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Charity worker died in Zambia crash when car tyres blew out causing driver to lose control

A charity co-founder on a trip to see hippos at a lake in Zambia died when the tyres on the car she was travelling in burst causing the driver to lose control and crash, an i nquest heard.

Lucy Dickenson, 32, died of multiple injuries following the crash in Zambia in August 2012.

Ms Dickenson, who helped set up the charity The Safe Foundation, travelled to Zambia as part of the Welsh Government -funded International Learning Opportunities project.

During this time she worked with a partner charity called Emerging World doing advocacy work for women who had suffered land rights abuses.

On Tuesday an inquest in Cardiff heard she died at hospital following a car crash on August 20, 2012.

Giving evidence at Cardiff Coroner’s Court Ms Dickenson’s sister, Hannah Fitt, said: “We set up The Safe Foundation around 10 years ago and it works to help people around the world.

“She then went onto take up a job with the Welsh Government to get experience teaching women about lands rights.

“She had been with them for two months before she died and she had a day off when the accident took place.

“Lucy was out with other people from the organisation that day – they were going to see hippos at a lake.”

The inquest heard that Lucy, from Barry , was in good physical health before she died.

Before she travelled to Zambia she was hoping to learn new skills which she could later utilise within her own charity which she helped set up in 2007.

During the inquest coroner Philip Spinney praised the work Lucy had done with the charity.

He also confirmed Ms Dickenson’s death was the result of an accident that resulted in injuries to her chest, head and limbs.

Mr Spinney said: “Lucy took up a job with the Welsh Government working in Zambia.

“She was in a road traffic accident and was taken to hospital where she died as a result of her injuries.

“This was an accidental death.”

In a tribute in 2013 Ms Fitt described her sister as a person who “touched everybody she met”.

She said: “She was an amazing person who had so many different dimensions to her.

“It’s really hard to sum up someone who did all of what she did and who meant so much to so many people.

“She was an inspiration to so many people, she really did touch everybody she met and there’s a lot of people out there who really looked up to her.”

Paramedics couldn’t get to steelworker who collapsed and died in Cardiff park because the gates were locked

Westminster refuses to accept Welsh Government claims it must provide £1bn more for rail investment

Concern about long-awaited investment in Wales’ rail infrastructure has intensified with a £1bn funding row between the UK and Welsh governments escalating tensions.

The UK Government has been accused of attempting to “renege” on a deal and “strip out” £1bn of investment from Welsh railways over 15 years.

It is understood that the UK Government insists it never agreed to provide the cash, with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling seeing no basis for the claim.

The stand-off has ignited frustration in the business community and fuelled concerns about the future of key rail projects.

It comes as a leading transport expert has warned that if bids for the Wales and Borders network are delayed then ministers could be left with just three months to secure the right deal for the future running of these vital routes.

Professor Stuart Cole of the University of South Wales cautioned that it was important to “have the right franchise this time,” adding: “We didn’t get it right last time [with Arriva Train Wales], we need the right franchise and that will take, in my view, more than three months.”

Four companies – Abellio, Arriva, KeolisAmey and MTR – have been shortlisted for the franchise and for the right to launch and run the new South Wales Metro system.

There is concern in the business community about any delay to the project.

JJL director Chris Sutton

Chris Sutton, lead director of property experts JLL in Cardiff, attacked the outbreak of “blamestorming”.

He said: “I think business just wants to see the smooth delivery of Metro, which is an integrated transported system. It’s hugely frustrating to see this disagreement aired in public.

“The Metro is a unifying project that brings together the people of Cardiff and the Valleys because it should hopefully spread prosperity and create additional jobs and investment. There are many components to the business environment – skills, capital, planning, whatever – but there is no doubt that investment in infrastructure is key, and particularly in South Wales…

Business just wants to see a plan. It wants to see delivery and it wants to see just a stable business environment in order to make investment decisions and quite frankly this row does not help.”

Packed trains are a reality for many commuters
(Image: Georgina Elson)

The present operator of the Wales and Borders network, Arriva Trains Wales, pays a rebate of approximately £67m a year to the Department for Transport which is passed on to Network Rail for improvements – a sum coming to around £1bn over the 15-year length of the contract. The Welsh Government argues it should receive the money when it gains responsibility for the franchise from next year.

Paul Harding of the campaign group RailFuture Wales turned his guns on both governments, saying: “It is almost unbelievable that Westminster have messed up regarding the transfer of these powers, but equally unbelievable that not a single minister or civil servant in the Welsh Government noticed until it was too late. The public will rightly be concerned that this could delay both the new trains and the new stations that have been promised for many years now.”

Adam Price
Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price

Plaid Cymru AM Adam Price called for a dedicated Transport Secretary in the Welsh Government cabinet. Today, transport is the responsibility of Labour Economy and Infrastructure Secretary Ken Skates.

Mr Price said: “From the Circuit of Wales to what looks like a £1bn blunder in procuring Wales’s next rail franchise, it’s clear that Ken Skate’s department can no longer handle its wide-ranging brief. For the sake of Welsh finances and the rail services that people rely on every day, the department must be stripped of the transport element of its portfolio and it entrusted to someone who can competently handle this critical policy area.

“The First Minister has no option other than to create a new cabinet-level Transport Secretary to clean up the mess that has been created by the minister and his department, which is clearly out of its depth. It is already unacceptable that the Welsh taxpayer is footing the £3.5m bill following a delay in the process of devolving the franchise. But to now put the whole procurement process at risk demonstrates a stupendous level of ineptitude.”

Economy and Infrastructure Secretary Ken Skates

A spokesman for Mr Skates said: “The issue here is very clear – the UK Conservative Government at Westminster are attempting to renege on the agreement they made with the Welsh Government back in 2014 and strip out £1bn pounds of investment from Welsh railways over the next decade and a half. They seem prepared to use the lever they have of holding up the procurement process for the next Wales and Borders franchise in order to make that happen.

“Coming as it does on top of their recent decision to cancel electrification to Swansea and their historic under-investment in Welsh railway infrastructure where despite having 11% of track, the Wales route has received only around 1.5% of UK Government funding for rail upgrades since 2011, its important that Wales is united in its efforts to stand up against this threat.

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“It is disappointing that Plaid Cymru seem content to use an important situation like this to play political games and exploit a situation for their own narrow ends. Our efforts will be focused on standing up for Wales and fighting for the investment our passengers deserve.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We remain committed to the principles agreed with the Welsh Government in 2014 to devolve rail powers. We continue to work with them on the devolution and to support them to deliver a successful procurement of the next Wales and Borders franchise.”

Manuel Cortes of the TSSA

Manuel Cortes General Secretary of the TSSA transport trade union, turned his guns on the UK Government, saying: “The Tories have no mandate to decide rail policy in Wales. They simply did not win enough votes at the last General Election to pretend otherwise.

So, it’s really high time that Transport Minister, Chris Grayling stopped playing the rail dictator in a devolved Wales. When he cancelled the long promised and, long overdue upgrading of the South Wales mainline form Cardiff to Swansea on the last day of parliament he showed democratic accountability before parliament is really not his diminished government’s thing. That’s because he’d have faced defeat in the House of Commons for his U-turn not just in Wales, but across the Midlands and the North too.

“Grayling’s stand-off now with the Welsh Assembly is yet another page in his posture politics game-book. Welsh commuters, Welsh businesses and at the next general election, Welsh voters will remember his efforts to undermine modernisation of rail in Wales.

“Under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour’s 2017 Manifesto commitment to bringing rail back into public ownership is popular with the whole electorate from Cwmbran to Carlisle, Penrhyndeudraeth to Perth.”

The number of people struck down with a potentially fatal form of measles reaches 16

The number of people struck down with a potentially fatal form of measles in the Newport and Torfaen areas has now reached 16.

Public Health Wales says the measles outbreak is the same strain that has infected 14,000 people across Europe and caused 35 deaths since the beginning of the year.

With the new school term now only a few weeks away, Public Health Wales is urging parents across Wales to ensure their children are up to date with two doses of the MMR vaccine before returning to classes.

Dr Rhianwen Stiff, from Public Health Wales , said: “In our current outbreak, we have seen measles pass between pupils at the same school.

“With children returning from holidays in Europe, and with our ongoing outbreak in Newport and Torfaen, we are concerned that the start of the new term could lead to further cases of measles in Wales.

“Measles is highly contagious and passes very easily between people who are unvaccinated.

“The message is simple – MMR offers the best and only protection against measles.

“If you, or your child, are not up to date with two doses of the MMR vaccine, speak to your GP surgery immediately.”

Children with measles symptoms – which include a high temperature, cough, runny nose, red eyes (conjunctivitis), and a distinctive red rash – should be kept home from school, nurseries and social events such as holiday clubs and birthday parties.

Public Health Wales is also urging parents not to take children who appear to have symptoms of measles to the GP surgery, A&E department or hospital, where they could put other people at risk, without calling ahead first.

Among the new cases in the outbreak are people who have attended healthcare settings while unwell with measles, leading to other patients who they may have come into contact with receiving letters warning of the risk of measles.

A rolling programme of vaccination sessions has already been completed in schools across Newport in response to the outbreak, with 1,089 children receiving immunisation.

Adults born since 1970, who have never had measles or the MMR vaccine, are also urged to ensure they contact their surgery about vaccination, especially if they work with children.

The first dose of MMR is usually given to babies at between 12 and 13-months-old, and the second at three years and four months of age, but it is never too late to catch up on missed doses.

About one in five children with measles can experience serious complications such as ear infections, pneumonia or meningitis.

One in 10 children with measles ends up in hospital and in rare cases it can be fatal.

Parents who suspect their child has measles should contact their GP or NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 for an assessment.

Almost a third of children in Wales don’t get enough exercise every day

Thousands of children under the age of five are not getting enough exercise time outdoors, a new report has warned.

Health experts recommended that young children should be given at least three hours of active play per day.

But according to a new survey by Public Health Wales 29% of children in this age group are not reaching their daily quota.

It is thought a lack of suitable outdoor space is a key contributor to the low levels of exercise.

Dr Julie Bishop, director of health improvement for Public Health Wales, said being active outside helps children develop both mentally and emotionally.

“Playing outdoors every day is a great way to help your child grow into a fit and healthy adult and will encourage them to stay active beyond their childhood.

“Time outside is a wonderful way to spend quality time with your child as well as being a great stress reliever from the busy life of a parent.”

The survey was carried out earlier this year as part of Every Child Wales, Public Health Wales’ new programme to improve the health and wellbeing of children under five.

Every Child Wales recognises the importance of outdoor play as part of “10 steps to a healthy weight”.

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A total of 1,503 telephone interviews were carried out with parents and carers of children from birth to five in Wales between April 11 and June 6, 2017.

Experts say children who are active and play from a young age are more likely to be active as they get older and more likely to be a healthy weight.

Marianne Mannello, Play Wales’ assistant director said: “There is increasing concern about the mental and physical health of children and young people.

“Research suggests that given the opportunity, children get wide-ranging exercise as well as a significant mental health benefits from freely chosen play.

“Children start their active lives through play. When given the opportunity to play, children are likely to be physically active by running, jumping, dancing, climbing, digging, lifting, pushing and pulling.

“For children, play can also be fun and relaxing, a way of relieving or having time away from anxiety and stress.”

Marianne added: “Playing is a vital dimension of a happy and healthy childhood.

“It contributes to the wellbeing and resilience of human beings – particularly children.

“Having welcoming places, enough time and the company of others to play with every day is of great consequence to all children and young people – as adults we need to foster environments that support this.”

The Every Child Wales website has helpful tips for parents to support children’s play and information about the physical and mental benefits of playing.

It also has advice for “playful parenting” as well as addressing parental concerns about playing outdoors.

For further information, and ideas for outdoor play with your under-five and the whole family, visit

Paramedics couldn’t get to steelworker who collapsed and died in Cardiff park because the gates were locked

Paramedics were delayed for 20 minutes in treating a man who collapsed in a Cardiff park due to the gates being locked, an inquest heard.

Steel worker Noel Acreman, 25, died from a sudden cardiac death after collapsing during a walk through Bute Park on a Sunday afternoon.

The inquest heard paramedics were prevented reaching the talented golfer because the park’s main entrance was locked shut, blocking their ambulance.

Cardiff Coroners’ Court heard Mr Acreman was planning to propose to his girlfriend around the time of his sudden death.

Witnesses said they saw Mr Acreman – a tipper truck driver at the Tata steel works in Port Talbot – suddenly collapsed to the floor while walking through Bute Park at about 3.50pm on Sunday, February 5.

Paramedics were called and arrived within 10 minutes.

But it took a further 10 to 15 minutes to gain entry and treat Mr Acreman, who was being looked after and given CPR by members of the public.

Tom Winstone, an off-duty firefighter who came across Mr Acreman as he was being treated by concerned passers-by, said he rang colleagues at the fire service to break into the park after realising paramedics were unable to enter.

He said: “I called the fire service to cut the locks off and enable access to the park.

“I also requested an air ambulance because paramedics weren’t able to get in.”

The firefighter raised his concerns that the ambulance service hadn’t requested help to access the park themselves.

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He said: “My concerns that day were access to the park and the lack of communication between emergency services.

“The ambulance service didn’t seem to have keys to get into the castle grounds and also they didn’t contact the fire service themselves.”

Dr Fouad Alchami, a consultant pathologist, said Mr Acreman died from sudden arrhythmic death syndrome, known as SADS, a genetic heart condition which could have triggered “at any time.”

Asked about the role the delay in treatment had on Mr Acreman’s death, Dr Alchami said: “Any delay can be of significant consequences.”

He added that the “crucial period is really the first three minutes”.

Coroner Philip Spinney concluded Mr Acreman, of Tonyrefail , Rhondda Cynon Taf , died from sudden arrhythmic death syndrome.

He added he would be “writing to authorities about concerns over access to the park”.

Euromillions results for Tuesday, August 15: The winning numbers from the latest draw

These are the winning numbers for tonight’s Euromillions draw.

The jackpot for the draw was a huge £22m.

If you bought a ticket you can check your numbers below.

Good luck!

The main numbers were: 10, 14, 30, 35, and 46.

The Lucky Stars were: 4 and 10.

How many numbers do you need to win?

If you have got two numbers or one number and two lucky stars or better then you are a winner.

Players must match all five main numbers and two lucky star numbers to claim the jackpot.

A woman waited so long for an ambulance that she ended up being taken to hospital by helicopter instead

An injured woman who suffered a dislocated knee after colliding with her dog in Gower lay on wet grass for more than three hours before being taken to hospital.

One onlooker said the casualty was in considerable discomfort and that the weather was poor.

“She was crying out in agony,” he said.

The Welsh Ambulance Service apologised, blaming a high number of call-outs at the time.

The woman, believed to be aged 50 and with her two sons at the time, suffered the injury to her left knee on the coast path at Rhossili just before 1.30pm on Monday.

She was finally taken to Morriston Hospital by a UK search and rescue helicopter from St Athan at 4.34pm.

HM Coastguard was alerted to the incident at 1.33pm and immediately tasked the ambulance service and Rhossili coastguard rescue team, the latter of whom stabilised the patient as best as they could.

Next on the scene were on-call firefighters from Reynoldston — but they needed paramedics to administer pain relief.

With no road or air ambulance apparently able to get there, and the call not a life-threatening code red, the casualty had to remain lying by the coast path until the search and helicopter was called out at 4.11pm.

Concerned Rhossili businessman Steve Campbell-Kelly said he believed the ambulance service would have dealt with the incident if it happened in a town or city.

“We are reliant here upon the ambulance service,” he said. “They are particularly stretched — at times more so than others.”

Emergency calls for the ambulance service are graded red, amber or green depending on their seriousness. Paramedics are expected to get to at least 65% of red cases with eight minutes but there are no time targets for amber and green ones.

Jeff Morris, Welsh Ambulance Service head of operations for the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board area, said: “We would like to apologise to this patient for the wait she experienced after her fall. We recognise what a difficult experience this must have been.

“The remote location of the patient, along with the need to send specialist resources to assist and the number of other calls we received at the time, meant that we could not reach the patient as quickly as we would have liked and for this we apologise.

“It is not the level of service we would aim to provide.

“While the patient was waiting, we made sure her condition was regularly assessed by a clinician in our Clinical Contact Centre and we sent a team of fire service co-responders to provide basic first-aid and a paramedic in a rapid response car while we arranged for a search and rescue helicopter to attend.

“We would like to send this patient our best wishes for her recovery and if she has any concerns then we would be happy to discuss them.”

People are saying the centre of Cardiff smells of POO

People are saying that a mysterious stench is making the centre of Cardiff smell like poo.

Cardiff appears to have been hit with a foul-smelling odour and people have taken to social media to complain of the nagging smell.

The source of the stink remains a mystery, with some claiming it smells like manure, “milky baby sick”, or even “one giant cheesy puff”.

One user said: “Trust me Cardiff smells like s*** today everywhere.”

Another said: “Today Cardiff Bay smells of manure. Drifting over from Somerset fields?”

Others questioned why Cardiff appeared to smell of “s***”.

Reports of the smell appear to be most common in the Bay area of the city.

The nauseating scent appears to be confined to the capital with no reports of a similar stench in nearby Newport or Swansea.

Data from the Welsh Air Quality Forum for Tuesday show levels of pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, which can smell like rotten egg, are low.