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Farmers affected by mental health issues are encouraged to look for help

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THOSE farmers going through a tough time have been encouraged to seek help as World Suicide Prevention Day gets underway on Tuesday (Sept 10).
The worldwide initiative, which takes place on 10 September ever year, aims to shine a spotlight on action to prevent suicide.

One person takes their own life every 40 seconds and more people die by suicide every year than in war, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said today.

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) is using this day to urge farmers and farm workers battling with mental health difficulties to seek help.
Levels of depression within the industry are thought to be increasing in the UK and suicide rates, particularly for males under 40, are among the highest in any occupational group.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has identified stress, depression and anxiety as some the main causes of work-related ill health for farmers.

FUW President, Glyn Roberts, said: “Poor mental health is an issue that affects the farming community greatly and it is well known that loneliness and social isolation can lead to mental health problems.
The FUW understands that failing to deal with poor mental wellbeing could have serious consequences and lead to the farm running inefficiently, a serious injury, relationship breakdowns, poor physical health and even worse, it could lead to suicide.”

He added that everyone can make a contribution in preventing suicide and believes that it is by joining together, those suffering can be better supported.

“Suicidal behaviour is universal and it knows no boundaries. It can affect anyone and therefore we all have a role to play to collectively address the challenges. Of course, preventing suicide often requires the efforts of many, like family, friends, co-workers, community members, educators, healthcare professionals, and governments.
We must remember that every life lost represents someone’s partner, child, parent, friend or colleague. For each suicide there are countless other people who suffer intense grief,” Mr Roberts said.

The overall illness rate for agricultural workers, which includes stress, depression and anxiety, is 46 percent higher than the industry average.
There is help available with rural-based charities such as the Farming Community Network, the DPJ Foundation and Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) helping farmers who are suffering from mental health difficulties.

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Director of pharmacy chain jailed for £76,000 NHS fraud

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THE DIRECTOR of a family chain of high street pharmacies in South Wales has been sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment for deliberately overcharging the NHS for medicines at one of his branches: Talbot Pharmacy at Heol Y Gyfraith Talbot Green, Rhondda Cynon Taf (Cardiff Crown Court, 22 October 2019).

Pharmacist Michael Lloyd (52) of Penllyn, Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan, repeatedly submitted claims for payment to the NHS that falsely stated he had dispensed a more expensive item than he had actually provided to the patients.

Michael Lloyd is the co-director of Llanharan Pharmacy Ltd, which owns five pharmacy premises across South East Wales.

Lloyd received and processed prescriptions issued to NHS patients in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board (CTMUHB) area.

NHS Counter Fraud Service (CFS) Wales was called in to investigate following concerns raised by the health board. Investigations subsequently revealed that on numerous occasions, Lloyd falsely claimed he had dispensed medicines in liquid form to NHS patients when they had in fact received tablets. Drugs in liquid form cost significantly more.

Some tablets for dementia such as Memantine and Donepezil cost as little as £3 but Lloyd claimed for the more expensive liquid formulation, which sometimes cost the NHS as much £300 each time.

Lloyd sometimes altered the prescription forms – which had often already been honestly endorsed by staff to show that tablets had been dispensed – by crossing out their entries to claim for the much more expensive items such as liquids and dissolvable or dispersible tablets.

The prescriptions abused usually originated from genuine handwritten prescriptions issued by hospital doctors at the nearby Royal Glamorgan Hospital. Investigators also identified that Michael Lloyd had falsely claimed for liquids on prescriptions issued to patients by community dental practitioners for painkillers and anti-biotics. However, patients always received the correct medication that they were prescribed.

The NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA) supported the investigation. Its Forensic Computing Unit (FCU) assisted in obtaining a forensic image (a complete exact copy) of Talbot Pharmacy’s computer systems.

NHS CFS Wales worked closely with the Pharmacy Team at CTMUHB. Investigators analysed the prescriptions claimed for by Talbot Pharmacy against the computer systems and were able to prove that over 1,500 prescriptions had been falsely claimed for by Lloyd, costing the NHS a total £76,475. They also obtained the tablet packaging provided to a number of patients as further evidence to support this.

Lloyd repaid this amount in full to CTMUHB in May 2019. Earlier, in an interview under caution, he admitted to the offences in a pre-prepared statement.

The other four branches in the business did not appear to have processed their prescriptions in the same way.

Graham Dainty, Operational Fraud Manager of CFS Wales, said today:

“CFS Wales has recently secured several successful prosecutions of NHS professionals who have defrauded NHS Wales. Pharmaceutical practitioners work in a key position of trust. Michael Lloyd abused his position as a pharmacist to deliberately defraud NHS Wales over an extended period of time. A dishonest minority are harming the reputation of the honest majority of pharmaceutical practitioners. This case shows that fraud will not be tolerated in NHS Wales and that suitable criminal, civil and disciplinary sanctions will always be pursued when appropriate”.

Sue Frith, CEO of the NHSCFA, said today: “This case is a shocking example of pharmaceutical contractor fraud, which is a priority action area for the NHSCFA this year. We were pleased to support NHS CFS Wales in this investigation, and our counter fraud teams routinely collaborate closely to ensure there is nowhere for fraudsters to hide. The specialist support of our Forensic Computing Unit helped CFS Wales to confront Mr Lloyd with a mass of hard evidence.

Any suspicion of fraud against the NHS should be reported to the NHS Fraud and Corruption Report Line via NHSCFA’s main website or by telephone on 0800 028 4060. Wherever appropriate, it will be investigated and prosecuted.”

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Jobs to go at Port Talbot car parts firm

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A SOUTH WALES car parts firm has announced it will close in two years, with the loss of about 125 jobs.

Hi-Lex Cable System Company makes door and window parts and cables for cars at its plant on Baglan energy park.

Management at the firm, which supplies Honda, Audi and BMW among others, said it did not anticipate any redundancies in the next 12 months.

Any remaining business at the plant in 2021 will be transferred to a Hi-Lex plant in Hungary.

A statement issued by the company said the decision had been taken following a meeting at the parent company, Hi-Lex Corporation in Japan, which discussed a restructure of its European operations.

It continued: “Hi-Lex Corporation regrets the need for the decision to re-structure its operations, but it is based solely upon a significant reduction in the sales forecast at HCS, from 2021 onwards.

“Hi-Lex will now contact all of our supply chain partners to discuss and agree plans to meet the needs of our customers up to the closure of the HCS facility.”

Commenting on the news that Hi-Lex Cable Systems will be leaving Wales, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Economy and Transport, Russell George AM, said: “It is disappointing that Hi-Lex Cable Systems has decided to move their production from Baglan to Hungary. The highly skilled and dedicated workforce in Baglan and the surrounding area are and would have continued to be a strong asset to Hi-Lex in the face of predicted declining sales from 2021. I urge the Welsh and UK Government’s to act swiftly to help the employees and their families affected by today’s news.”

Welsh Conservative Regional Assembly Member for South Wales West, Suzy Davies AM, added: “This is another blow to the South Wales West area and its hardworking people. It is good to hear that Hi-Lex will not be making any redundancies before 2021 enabling people to plan for the future and I will do everything to attract more businesses to South Wales West to replace those that will be lost over the next two years.”

Adam Glaznieks, managing director at the Port Talbot site, said: “The reason for making the announcement now is that we need to commence preparations to transfer any remaining business after 2021 to the Hi-Lex plant in Hungary.”

The leader of Neath Port Talbot council, Rob Jones, said the closure would be “keenly felt” in the area and the authority would try to support workers “wherever we can into new employment”.

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Swansea Building Society expands in East Wales

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Swansea Building Society has appointed two new front-line mortgage managers to further expand its East Wales operations.

Lloyd Williams from North Cornelly has recently been appointed as Branch Manager at the Society’s Cowbridge branch. Williams is currently the Assistant Manager at the Cowbridge branch and has seven years’ experience in financial services. His new role will see him responsible for the branch and mortgage sales/operations in and around the Bridgend/Vale of Glamorgan areas. A fluent Welsh speaker, Williams has been with the Society for over four years.

Laura Cox from Croesyceiliog has recently been appointed as the Society’s new Business Development Manager covering the counties of Monmouthshire and Brecon and Radnorshire. Cox has over 15 years’ experience in financial services, having worked as a mortgage adviser in the Newport/Gwent area and as a Senior Underwriter at another Welsh building society.

Both Williams and Cox will report to Swansea Building Society’s Area Manager, Richard Miles, who along with the Society’s existing Business Development Manager, Martin Lewis, will continue to manage the areas of Cardiff, Gwent and the Welsh Border region.

Richard Miles, Area Manager and Head of Savings at Swansea Building Society, said:

“I am delighted to have Lloyd and Laura join our expanding team in East Wales. The response to the Society’s personal, tailored and common-sense approach to lending since we opened in Cowbridge during December 2017 has been excellent. By increasing our mortgage manager presence, we can focus on developing new business in areas where previously we have been unable to fully focus on.”

Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, added:

“I have been delighted with how the team based at the Cowbridge branch have performed since its opening. It is obvious from the feedback received that more and more people in East Wales need the services of a lender that avoids a ‘computer says no’ model and that doesn’t believe in a one size fits all approach to mortgage lending.

“With a focus on opening and not closing branches, our ambitions to expand further and effectively serve communities will be complemented with the additions to Richard’s team in East Wales. We look forward to seeing their growing contribution to the Society in 2020 and beyond.”

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