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Thursday, February 22, 2007

More excuses

The Chief Executive of the NHS in Wales, Ann Lloyd, has told a summit on devolution and health policy, organised by drugs manufacturer Pfizer, that the Welsh Assembly Government has failed to win the public's hearts and minds over the reconfiguration of health services.

In their report the Western Mail adds that concerns about the future of health services - particularly hospital-based services - have sparked a series of protests, demonstrations and petitions around Wales:

Many people have raised concerns that services will be lost from the area and because they do not know what community-based services will be available in the future, they are worried that patients will have to travel further distances for healthcare.

The Assembly Government wants more healthcare to be provided in the community and for people to be kept out of hospital as much as possible.

But, as yet, no details about new community-based services have been published - only plans to reconfigure hospital services.

The paper adds that although both First Minister Rhodri Morgan and Health Minister Dr Brian Gibbons have spoken of the need to ensure the public understand the reason for the changes, this is thought to be the first time such a high-ranking official has admitted the strategy so far has failed.

The NHS Chief Executive, the director of the NHS Confederation and the Assembly Government spokesperson all talk about ineffective communication and failure to engage stakeholders, but what they are looking at in reality is a failure of trust in Government and in the process of change.

That failure has come about because for all the talk about reconfiguration, service users are still only being offered jam tomorrow. They are being asked to rely on NHS Trusts and LHBs investing in new community services after the hospital has closed, rather than seeing those services in place beforehand. Furthermore they are being asked to show this faith when they can plainly see that the Trusts concerned are in deficit and do not have the resources to invest in new services. In these circumstances a natural suspicion grows up that these changes are cost-cutting, and have nothing to do with an improved service.

Unless the Assembly Government changes its approach and starts to invest in replacement services up-front, before facilities are closed, then they will find resistance to change growing from both politicians and members of the public.
> a summit on devolution and health policy, organised by drugs manufacturer Pfizer
No doubt fixed up by their senior representative, Dai Smith's son, Owen.

He doesn't figure in Labour's roster of National Assembly candidates, I notice. Is he leery of another rejection, after his experience in Blaenau Gwent, or is he just making too much money at Pfizer?
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