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Plaid Cymru leader clashes with First Minister during FMQs

24 Oct 2023 4 minute read
Plaid Cymru Leader Rhun ap Iorwerth

Emily Price

Plaid Cymru Leader Rhun ap Iorwerth has clashed with the First Minister, Mark Drakeford in the Senedd today in a disagreement over agency workers being used in the care sector.

During FMQs on Tuesday (October 24), following a question from Plaid Cymru’s leader, Mark Drakeford said Mr ap Iorwerth, “spends his time calling for things for other people to do”.

Mr Drakeford’s tetchy response came after the Plaid Cymru leader accused Health Minister Eluned Morgan of plucking her spending plans for the NHS “from thin air”.

Last week, Ms Morgan warned that health would still be expected to make significant cuts, despite expenditure on health being ring-fenced as part of the Welsh Government’s most recent budget plans.

Mr ap Iorwerth today asked for clarity on exactly how much each health board would be expected to save

He called for an explanation of how the Welsh Government intends to make savings on agency staff spend, which reached record levels of £325m last year.

Responding, the Mr ap Iorwerth’s question, the First Minister said: “The Minister is still discussing these issues with the health boards. It’s the responsibility of the health boards to come forward with the plans, and they will have to come up with those plans, as they do every year.

“After the discussions, when we’re clear about the steps that the health boards will be taking, of course the Minister will come before the Senedd to explain and to provide additional information.”

Mr ap Iorwerth pointed to a recent tv interview given by the health minister in which she referred to spending less on agency staff in order to make savings.

He said: “We need details. And in the absence of detail, people can’t be blamed for thinking that statements like that are plucked from thin air. Spending plans not implemented properly or not thought through properly are bound to impact on front-line services.

“As the head of the British Medical Association in Wales said, efficiency savings on top of efficiency savings have led to an NHS that is inefficient in its delivery of services.

“The need to get staffing right is a long-term issue. Another long-term problem is the unsustainability of the care sector. If the spend on agency staff is an example of private companies stepping in to make profit because of Labour mismanagement, isn’t that exactly what’s driven the decision now by the Labour Rhondda Cynon Taf council—to the anger of unions and local residents—to outsource all its long-term homecare?”

“Speeches”

In response the First Minister said: “If solutions were as easy as speeches, we’d all be a lot better off. Indeed, the leader of Plaid Cymru is correct: he spends his time calling for things for other people to do. One day maybe he’ll be in a position to do some of those things himself.

“As far as RCT is concerned, I’m happy to refer him to what the council itself has said. The council is not privatising all homecare services in Rhondda Cynon Taf; 90 per cent of long-term care in the council is already provided by the independent sector, and these proposals will transfer the remaining 10 per cent to the independent sector to ensure a more efficient service delivery to residents.

“The remaining services will remain directly provided by the local authority. I’ve no doubt that the local authority will continue to be in discussions with its trade unions and with others who are interested in the care sector to make sure that, at a time when all public service budgets are under enormous pressure, they are able to go on making decisions that focus on the care of those individuals who rely on the service, and ensure that they are at the forefront of the way in which those decisions are made.

Speaking after FMQs, Mr ap Iorwerth said: “Today, the First Minister blamed Plaid Cymru for coming back ‘time and time again’ demanding that Welsh Government should take action on some – frankly – quite fundamental issues.

“If the Welsh Government got to grips with these issues, perhaps Plaid Cymru wouldn’t need to keep coming back asking for action on things that – had they been done earlier – they could have made a real difference. This is no more apparent than with the staffing crisis in our NHS right now.”


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Sally-Anne
Sally-Anne
6 months ago

I reckon Plaid have made a good point here…
A question I would like to see asked is: Given the truly astonishing stories that keep coming from Betsi Cadwaldr (my own is beyond the realms of belief…and its nothing compared to some of the stories I have heard and seen reported recently), how is justice going to be obtained for the many victims of its behaviour?

Gerallt Williams
6 months ago
Reply to  Sally-Anne

The devolved NHS system in Cymru needs a root and branch overhaul before we can even think about independence. What we have needs to be Drastically reformed and massive areas of Wales have no access to the NHS in Wales. An independent country cannot sponge of its neighbours hospitals because it has none of its own and its own hospitals must be up to the mark because at the minute the per person fiscal allowance is generous compared to other parts of the UK. Sometimes it is not Westminster’s fault. We need to own up before we can improve.

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
6 months ago

Does Mark Drakeford not realise that as First Minister it is his job to get on with doing things and to say Mr ap Iorwerth, “spends his time calling for things for other people to do  One day maybe he’ll be in a position to do some of those things himself.” is frankly ridiculous. It is becoming more and more obvious that Mr Drakeford is no longer capable of doing the job and maybe he needs to retire gracefully.

hdavies15
hdavies15
6 months ago

Seems like Mr Drakeford is getting into a state over being held accountable. If he can’t cope he should quit the job. If his Party can’t cope they should all quit their jobs. But they won’t, they enjoy the power and rewards but can’t hack the responsibility.

Alun Gerrard
Alun Gerrard
6 months ago

Drakeford can insult Rhun all he likes as Plaid’s soul is now Labour. A father can control his son….Rhun wants to get Drakeford to substantially increase the business grants in Gwynedd and Anglesey. They do not compare with business grants in South Wales…or South of Merthyr Tydfil. In the last 10 years no business grants have been applied for in Merionydd…more publicity needed. 95% of businesses in Gwynedd employ less than 10 people. No large scale manufacturing there then. 750 jobs lost in Llangefni as Two Sisters chicken processing closed it. Production went elsewhere. Better grants I fear.Mind you many… Read more »

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