The recent Bevan Foundation report The Shape of Wales to Come, looks at the future of Wales in 2020, based on current forecasts, and has warned of increased poor health in Wales – a result of rising incidences of diabetes, cancer, and an aging population across the nation.
With my Welsh Conservative colleagues, I am campaigning to protect the NHS budget here in Wales. We are also calling to clamp down on the £1 billion waste that occurs annually in the Welsh NHS. Sadly, the health budget under the Welsh Labour Government has faced extremely damaging cuts and will not be protected in line with inflation. Wales is the only part of the UK where spending on health has been projected to decrease.
Furthermore, waiting time targets for patients waiting over four hours in A&E have not been met since 2009 and ambulance response times remain woeful. At the end of June, 83.1 per cent of ‘urgent suspected’ patients had started ‘definitive treatment’ within 62 days (481 out of 579). The target is 95 per cent and was last met in 2008. In the Siambr in Cardiff Bay, I have repeatedly called on the Welsh Government for the introduction of a Cancer Treatments Fund in Wales, which would:
- Boost access to cancer drugs in Wales
- Increase access to modern radiotherapy treatments
- Expand the number of mobile cancer treatment centres in Wales
Hardworking staff work deliver exceptional services for patients in oncology departments across Wales, yet patients who could benefit are forced to miss out on the 28 cancer treatments not routinely available for Welsh cancer patients, but readily accessible for patients in England.
I am delighted that the new Minor Injuries Unit at Llandudno Hospital is finally ready for opening, after years of hard work and campaigning by hospital staff, the community and myself to secure funding for the rebuild. The Choose Well campaign, run across the Health Board, assists people to make an informed choice about whether to attend A&E, MIU, GP surgery, NHS Direct or a local pharmacy, helping to prevent non-emergency cases pushing up waiting times at A&E.
With regards to the current situation at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, I feel that hospital downgrading anywhere is simply not an option. Under the current consultation on Maternity Services across the Health Board, I am unequivocally supporting Option 1 – services remaining as they are now. I firmly believe that full services can be maintained at all three sites in north Wales and I very much hope that’s the result of this consultation process. I am pleased that Labour-managed NHS bosses gave in to public pressure for a consultation, but disappointed at the time taken – certainly it should not have come only as a result of the threat of a judicial review. I look forward now to the process being open, transparent and genuine, and I urge as many people as possible to have their say.
In Cardiff Bay, I have been calling for the Welsh Government to improve transparency by commissioning an independent Keogh-style inquiry into standards of care in the Welsh NHS. A thorough inquiry into the NHS in Wales would restore confidence in our health service, help to address the serious concerns that have been raised and enable measures to be put in place to ensure patients receive the best possible care. These calls are supported by the BMA yet regrettably, Welsh Labour continues to dismiss calls for an inquiry into standards of care in Welsh hospitals.
Additionally, I’ve been calling to give patients a voice, increase choice and access to services – asking the Welsh Government to bring forward legislative proposals to create directly elected Health Commissioners, develop proposals for a Patient Choice Charter for the Welsh NHS and improve access to treatments.
Other issues I have been raising with the Welsh Government recently are the use of locum doctors in GP surgeries, tinnitus support provision, the meningitis B vaccine, and indoor air pollution.
I hope you find this update of interest – please don’t hesitate to contact me if there is anything you feel I can help you with.