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Friday, March 21, 2014

In defence of Ann Clwyd

The extraordinary attack by the First Minister on the Labour MP for Cynon Valley, Ann Clwyd in last Tuesday's Plenary session of the Welsh Assembly was covered by the Times, who highlight some of the wider concerns about the health service here.

The paper also report that it has emerged that the head of the Welsh health watchdog has raised concerns about her own inspectorate’s ability to pick up on a scandal like that at Stafford Hospital. Kate Chamberlain, the chief executive of Health Inspectorate Wales, told the health committee that she could not give “assurance” that it would detect a serious breakdown in healthcare and that it “cannot possibly be everywhere”.

Ann Clwyd, who is a former chairwoman of the parliamentary Labour Party and who led a review of the English hospital complaints system last year, has repeatedly said that she has sent considerable evidence of “widespread concerns” about the Welsh NHS to ministers along with hundreds of letters from patients:

“I am, however, upset by the irrelevant and casual reference to my husband’s case in political and professional circles. My complaint on this issue is still under way and has not yet been resolved,” she said. “I would far rather the Assembly concentrate on resolving the current crisis in the NHS in Wales than attacking me personally.”

As Welsh Liberal Democrats Leader, Kirsty Williams told the paper, Ann Clwyd has every right to raise these issues and to be taken seriously:

“Again we see the First Minister point the finger at everyone else rather than accept failings by his own Welsh Labour Government,” she said. “Sir Bruce Keogh, Chief Medical Officer for England, was alarmed at data shared with him by Ann Clywd about the Welsh NHS. She has every right to voice her concerns about healthcare in Wales.”

It seems that the First Minister prefers to attack the messenger instead of taking her message seriously.
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