Drakeford highlights problems in England as Tories criticise handling of Welsh NHS
Mark Drakeford defended Welsh NHS workers in the Senedd this afternoon in the face of criticism from the Welsh Conservatives at First Minister’s Questions .
Laura Ann Jones MS for South Wales East, tested the First Minister’s patience when she asked: “What urgent action is the Welsh Government taking to cut ambulance waiting times?”
It turned out that she had already asked this of Health Minister Eluned Morgan only last week.
Mark Drakeford answered: “Recruitment of further additional staff; reformed rota arrangements; reduction in sickness absence; new technology …”
But when Laura Ann Jones claimed that ambulance waiting times had “gotten worse since last year”, and made the shrewd observation that, “winter is coming” the First Minister was having none of it.
“Let me make it clear” he said: “I do not like the suggestion that the member makes that this is a uniquely Welsh problem.
“The leader of the ambulance service in England last week said that people are dying in the English health service because of the problems in the English NHS.”
The First Minister accused the Tory member for South Wales East of making “foolish comparisons”, rather than recognising that the system, “is under enormous pressure.
“Clinicians everywhere are working very hard to tackle, and find a solution for the problem – which is the same in Wales, Scotland and in England, and worse again in Northern Ireland.
“She asked the same question a week ago of the Health Minister!”
Leader of the opposition, Andrew RT Davies MS, said he’d been, “looking on twitter over the weekend.”
Mr Davies described some shocking photos he’s seen on twitter taken outside and inside the Accident and Emergency Department at Cardiff’s Heath Hospital.
It was all rather long winded, and the question got a little lost in details of “vomit” and “cigarette butts”.
The First Minister pointed out: “It wasn’t the health board or the staff who vomited on the way to the A&E Department (and nor did they) throw cigarette buts outside the front.
“Some consideration should be given to the conditions staff themselves have to work in. If you’ve been to the Heath you’ll know the volume of people who come through the door, a percentage of which are there because of alcohol misuse …”
He continued in a similar vein, and pointed out that patients as well as staff have responsibilities.
The penny seemed to drop, and Andrew RT Davies agreed with him on this point.
Access to GPs
In his response to a question by Tom Gillard MS about patient’s access to their GP, Mark Drakeford said 89% of surgeries were achieving all their standards.
Mr Gillard however, who represents South Wales West, responded by saying: “Wales is falling short of training the 200 GP’s a year the BMA (British Medical Association) says we need.
“Welsh GP’s, on average, are older than elsewhere in the UK.”
The First Minister responded: “There are 200 places available but we don’t always attract that many. But we do attract the baseline which is 160.”
Rhun ap Iorwerth MS for Ynys Môn, wanted the First Minister to “accelerate” the process of getting a new health centre for Holyhead up and running.
It’s no secret that the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in north Wales is struggling to recruit staff, and the First Minister confirmed this.
He said: “The Health Board is trying to accelerate recruitment … there are some problems, we know, in terms of staff recruitment and people are working hard to improve this situation.”
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