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Friday, May 09, 2008

Forever delayed

When the Assembly Government launched its health strategy, 'Designed for Life' in 2005 the Welsh Liberal Democrat press officer picked up on the long wait for a coherent approach to the NHS in Wales and the Manic Street Preacher theme by rechristening it, Forever Delayed.

Judging by this report from the BBC his press release was not just referring to the tardiness of the Government at that time. It seems that any chance of meeting a number of key targets in the document are 'forever delayed' as well:

BBC Wales' Dragon's Eye programme examined the targets set for the end of March and found that waits for heart surgery are currently 36 weeks, which is around nine months, when they should be three months.

This wait has been reduced from 72 weeks and is due to reach 26 weeks by December 2009.

Another target missed by the Designed for Life plan is that all heart patients should be seen by a consultant within 24 hours.

The assembly government said it was still working towards developing services that would deliver this.

All patients eligible for cancer screening should be offered a screening, according to the plan.

But it was found that although breast and cervical cancer screening programmes are in place and are almost on target, a bowel cancer screening programme is still only in the planning stages.

Bed blocking, which is also known as delayed transfers of care, also continues to be an issue.

According to the assembly government's target, bed blocking should have been reduced to 50% of the figure in September 2003.

This was achieved in 2007 but has begun creeping up to above the 50% mark again.

The test for the One Wales Labour-Plaid Cymru Government now is whether it can turn around this poor performance and start delivering high quality Welsh NHS services for all.
Look on the bright side.

The NHS will be able to write to you and tell you that your appointment has been cancelled - in Welsh.

It certainly gets you thinking - who in their right mind would want to see even more powers devolved from Westminster to Wales in other key public policy areas?

Well, apart from Peter of course.

The way things are going I might have to stand in the next Welsh Assembly election to save you all - from yourselves. Mind you, no need to do that. I'll just get Whitehall to take back the powers it has lent you under Emergency Legislation. Instead of a Welsh Secretary signing LCO - he will sign a SOS. Save Our Sanity. :-)
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