On Friday the First Minister updated the people of Wales on the current coronavirus situation and advised that no changes would be made to the current restrictions in place. Despite the measures which Leader readers and others across Wales are taking, we are still seeing the omicron variant circulate quickly throughout our communities. Although this variant does appear to be milder the number of people becoming unwell with coronavirus is having an impact on our NHS – through staff absences and people being admitted to hospital.
I want to take the opportunity to thank all the staff and volunteers across Betsi Cadwaladr UHB for their enormous efforts in the booster vaccination programme to help give people as much protection as possible. Please remember it is never too late to get a first, second or booster jab here in Wales – just visit www.bcuhb.nhs.wales for more information.
I will continue to use my social media to update on any changes to the measures in place to protect Wales as much as possible from coronavirus.
Sticking with health issues that affect our communities, I know that many constituents might be concerned about the changes to cervical screening across the UK announced recently. As someone who has benefitted from regular screening and subsequent treatment, I understand these concerns.
Due to advances in screening that means that cells are first tested for HPV infections as it is the cause of almost all cervical cancers and to the effectiveness of the HPV test, it has been deemed safe to extend routine testing to every five years. This of course is still dependent on an individual’s screening results which will then recommend another screening in one, three or five years, or referral for an immediate colposcopy. Though the routine screening has been extended there remains an individualised approach to treating everyone based on their own circumstances, risks and results.
I would encourage all women and people with a cervix to take up a screening appointment when it is offered to them and if you have missed yours for any reason, please get in touch with your GP or if I can help in anyway, please use the details below.
Over the last few weeks I have been supporting constituents who are currently being affected by the energy crisis which we are facing due to rising energy prices, worsening fuel poverty for some of most vulnerable. Here in Wales households in receipt of means-tested benefits are eligible for a one-off £100 payment towards their energy bills through the Winter Fuel Support Scheme. Flintshire County Council are writing to everyone they believe is eligible for the payment, but you can also apply online through their website.
Applications for the Winter Fuel Support Scheme are open until mid-February and my office are able to support any constituent in need in applying for funding if they are facing financial hardship.
Energy prices continue to increase across the UK with research predicting that household bills could double in April, if planned increases to the energy price cap go ahead. The UK Government has the opportunity to step in and take action to prevent households facing further financial pressures, such as cutting VAT on energy bills, if only temporarily. They need to act now.
The Welsh Government are taking long-term steps to reduce energy wastage by retrofitting social housing to make it more energy efficient and putting in place net-zero targets for new builds, amongst other initiatives. However we are facing a crisis now and we need the UK Government to take action on fuel poverty now.
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If you have an issue you’d like to speak to me about, I will do my best to help.