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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Welsh Labour try to gloss over their health record

If there is one thing that is certain about the forthcoming General Election campaign in Wales then it is that Welsh Labour's record on health will become a major issue this side of the border. So this piece in the Times is especially interesting.

They say that campaign leaflets circulated in England to mark the start of the new year were titled Building an NHS with time to care, however the version distributed in Wales fails to mention the NHS, despite Ed Miliband’s vow to make the future of the health service a centrepiece of his bid to become prime minister in May.

Instead the leaflets focus on other issues such as immigration, raising the minimum wage, freezing energy bills and introducing a lower, 10p basic rate of tax:

The Labour-run NHS in Wales has failed to meet waiting time targets since September 2010 and performance has been on the decline, according to a Wales Audit Office report earlier this week. This is in contrast to the health service in England and Wales, where performance targets have begun to improve against tougher goals.

Letters issued by candidates, including Mari Williams in Cardiff North, Jo Stevens in Cardiff Central and Liz Evans in Gower, make no reference to the NHS. This comes after Labour promised to “put the NHS on the ballot paper” at the next election, which the shadow health secretary Andy Burnham described as “a battle for the soul of the NHS”.

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, said the omission of the NHS from the party’s leaflets in Wales was proof that Labour was trying to politicise the issue of the health service. “Ed Miliband wants to airbrush out the chaos his party has caused in the Welsh health service. Labour cut the NHS budget there by 8 per cent and now Wales has the worst urgent ambulance response times since records began.

“We know he wants to ‘weaponise’ the NHS in England, but in Wales his party don’t even defend their record . . . Labour still haven’t learnt that patients must always come before politics.”

Now I was about to say that maybe the reason that Labour had changed the leaflets was due to the fact that health is devolved in Wales and not therefore the responsibility of the UK Government.

But no, it seems that is not the reason as the Labour spokesperson's response indicates that they want to campaign on health in Wales as well. If that is the case, and Labour really want to engage on their health record here, then bring it on. They really have a very poor record indeed.
'The Labour-run NHS in Wales has failed to meet waiting time targets .......This is in contrast to the health service in England and Wales, where performance targets have begun to improve against tougher goals. '

Such confusing nonsense. Please don't blow the real message, the NHS is failing in Wales, just because you can't be bothered to proof what you write.

That isn't something I wrote. It is a quote from the article. That is why it is in italics
Oh come off it! You are falling in with the Daily Mail anti-Welsh NHS smear campaign! (no good directing us to the Murdoch propaganda sheet -- it's behind a paywall!!)

Now c'mon, Pete, less critique, more positive proposals. What would you do -- what DID YOU DO -- when LibDems in Gov't coalition in the Assembly??
This has nothing to do with the Daily Mail smear campaign nor did I draw comparisons between England and Wales other than to quote a perfectly legitimate news story.

This is about Labour failing Wales in their management of the health service based on their own targets and indicators, many of which they have missed and are getting worse.

That is legitimate scrutiny and the fact that Labour are glossing over their record in their leaflets is a legitimate subject for comment.

The Labour Liberal Democrats coalition was 2000-2003, that is over 12 years ago. We had a much better record on health but that is ancient history and irrelevant to where we are today.

As for what we would do, Kirsty Williams has made that very clear.

We need to restructure the way we deliver health and social services (and I am not talking about institutions) and we need to do that on a cross party basis.

Kirsty's proposal of a cross-party commission to do that has been accepted by the First Minister but not yet by the other parties.

In the meantime we need to direct resources at where they will make a difference, especially joint working between health and social services that will get people out of hospital at the most appropriate time and ensure they have a continuum of care in the community. That in turn will make beds available and reduce queues at A&E and reduce ambulance waiting times.

We started that with our budget deal last year when we set up an intermediate care fund, which is being carried over to the next financial year.

Let's not hide behind the Daily Mail's tactics and pretend that Labour cannot be held to account for their appalling record on health in Wales.

Oh, and my name is not Pete!
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