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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Hospital blues

In a further embarrassment for Wales New Labour it emerges that yet another of their policy initiatives has hit the rocks, this time before they have even had time to implement it. Today's Western Mail reports that contractual issues will prevent the party from fulfilling its pledge that all hospital cleaners in Wales will be employed by the NHS, not outside agencies.

Private companies currently hold the contracts to manage Neath Port Talbot Hospital, Chepstow Community Hospital and St David's Community Hospital, in Cardiff, under the PFI deals struck to build the hospitals. These include long-term cleaning and catering contracts, which have been awarded to other private companies.

In response a Labour source is quoted as saying that the lack of control over staffing matters was one reason why the Assembly Government had avoided PFI projects. Yet not only is Neath Port Talbot Hospital in the Health Minister's constituency but it was built on the authority of his predecessor, another Labour Health Minister. Oops!
The real cause for concern is that none of the opposition pointed this out when Labour made the announcement.Sleeping on the job again!
They only announced the policy last week so given the various deadlines for the newspapers and the fact that it was opposition spokespeople who pointed this out then I believe your criticism to be unfair.
But the real point is the story was run on both radio and TV. The Western Mail as usual followed. No opposition politican commented re the PFI hospitals and one of those hospitals is in your vast constituency. Come on Pete admitted it you took your eye off the ball.
The only people who seem to have taken their eye off the ball in this case is the Labour Party who failed to research their own policy. No opposition politician is going to give a kneejerk response along these lines without first checking their facts. That takes time, but clearly not too much time as the resposnse came within a week of the announcement.
Why should anyone be surprised?

Gibbons' pledges have less half-life than a fresh pint of Brains SA on a Saturday night.
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