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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Political footballs and the Welsh NHS

As a Welsh politician I am the last person to defend Labour's management of the health service this side of the border.

Hard-working and dedicated staff are being put under pressure by the under-resourcing of key services, waiting time targets are being missed and major services such as the Wales Ambulance Service Trust are under-performing. There is a clear case for an independent and over-arching inquiry into the way the Welsh NHS is being run.

You only have to read the articles on Freedom Central here to get a picture of everything that is wrong and needs fixing with the Welsh Health Service.

Having said that one has to sympathise with the director of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, who told the BBC that arguments between politicians are just adding to the pressure on staff.

Labour have once more fallen back on the claim that the Daily Mail and Tory Ministers are conducting a war on Wales and on NHS staff. They claim that statistics are being distorted and lies are being told.

Of course they have done exactly the same thing with regards to the English NHS so it is a bit rich for them to call foul now. Claims by Labour that the NHS is being used as a political football do not stand up either. After all, as anybody who remembers the War of Jennifer's Ear in 1992 will know Labour has been using the health service in this way since it was founded in 1945.

Amongst all these accusations and counter-accusations it is difficult to establish the facts but, as Nick Servini points out on his BBC blog, it is clear that in certain areas Wales is trailing behind England in terms of how its health service is performing. I have not seen many examples of where the reverse is the case.

This row is going to escalate of course as the General Election gets nearer. After all Ed Miliband invited the comparison when he started to use the Welsh Government's record as an example of what Labour can do.

But we must not forget the essential truth that this row is about political mismanagement. It is not about the staff who, for the most part are exceptional, professional and hard-working. It is about what patients can expect from their health service and whether those in government are delivering on those expectations on both sides of the border.
good points, but the full blooded nature of the these articles are win win for Labour.

They allow the Welsh Labour Government to portray itself as a victim being attacked by the nasty Tories while claiming their record is fine and many gullible welsh voters are falling for it.

It also makes politics a two party game for them, drowning out alternative voices in Wales and that means only Labour gets heard, believed and they win again while Wales loses.

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