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Expert group established to look at National Care Service for Wales as part of Plaid cooperation agreement with Labour

21 Feb 2022 3 minute read
Adam Price and Mark Drakeford sign the cooperation agreement. Picture by Plaid Cymru.

An Expert Group is being established to progress the work of creating a National Care Service for Wales, as part of the Welsh Government-Plaid Cymru cooperation agreement.

The Expert Group membership will include individuals with varied backgrounds including individuals with experience of running social care services and local government, academics, and those knowledgeable about the relationship between the NHS and Social Care.

Plaid Cymru Health spokesperson, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, described the development as “an important milestone” in taking Wales closer to having a National Care Service that will be “essential” in addressing the current provision gaps.

The Expert Group will aim to provide recommendations by the end of April 2022 with the development of an implementation plan being completed by the end of 2023.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: “Creating a National Care Service for Wales to bring health and social care closer together and address the current provision gaps is a longstanding Plaid Cymru commitment.

“In guaranteeing progress on this issue as part of the Co-operation Agreement with Welsh Government, Plaid Cymru has secured an important milestone in taking Wales a step closer to having a truly National Care Service.

“Those involved in the Expert Group will bring valuable insights and experience, ensuring that the National Care Service is tailored to meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable citizens from the outset.

“It is also vitally important that the Expert Group engages fully with those at the front line of delivering care and ensures that the recommendations reflect their views.”

‘Firm foundations’

The co-operation agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru said they would “Set up an expert group to support our shared ambition to create a National Care Service, free at the point of need, continuing as a public service.

“We will agree an implementation plan by the end of 2023. We will continue to better integrate health and care and work towards parity of recognition and reward for health and care workers.”

At the time of the agreement in November, First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The Welsh government has an ambitious programme for government, which it will deliver over this Senedd term. But we do not have a monopoly on good ideas and we will work with progressive parties where we have shared and common interests to benefit people in Wales.”

Plaid Cymru Health spokesperson, Rhun ap Iorwerth added that he was “determined” that they deliver health and care in a joined-up way that puts the need of the patient or service user at its heart. It also needed to attract, support and properly rewards staff, he added.

“The recommendations set to be provided by the end of April this year will hopefully give us firm foundations on which to build a new and much-needed institution which has been advocated by health and care leaders for many years,” he said.

Last week the Welsh Government announced that more than 50,000 staff working in social care in Wales would receive an extra £1,000 in their pay packet as part of a new funding boost.

Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan confirmed the Welsh Government would be investing £96m to give workers the one-off payment, which is on top of the £43.2m announced in December to introduce the real living wage.

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