Ah! It's that crisp Autumnal back to school feeling at the Senedd today. All the Assembly members are seated at their desks with their crisp new shirts , bright cardies and new haircuts. Tick which is appropriate. All settling in nicely. But hang on a minute, two of the Plaid Cymru members have swapped places . Dafydd Elis Thomas is now lording it near the front, close to leader Leanne Wood. A show of solidarity? Or is he sitting where she can keep an eye on him?
Just before FMQ's got underway, Presiding officer Rosemary Butler started as she means to go one by reminding pupil er sorry I mean Assembly member ,Joyce Watson,who had taken her time asking a question ,that questions must be shorter and sharper this term! Oh dear!
First Ministers Questions proper, though , began with questions from the leader of the opposition Andrew RT Davies, who got to his feet with a resounding cheer from his party.
His theme was the Health Service: Specifically , the shortage of doctors:
– Leader of the Opposition ,Andrew RT Davies AM
The only way to deliver a safe sustainable health service is to protect the health budget.. It is you taking 538 million pounds out of the health service in Wales . It is your health Minister who is telling the LHB's that they come in on budget. So we have no problem in you making the money available that endorses our position . Now when we look at the medical position that doctors and hospitals find themselves in,for example shutting A and E at Neath and Port Talbot. Bronglais having to shut wards for two weeks in the summer, there is a real issue about your Government's ability to attract doctors into Wales .Why is it that you are saying that there is a tidal wave of doctors trying to get out of the English NHS into Wales when so many vacancies exist in the Welsh NHS and local services are being shut. Are you not hoodwinking the communities in Wales that depend on these services?
Of course , this then set off an angry response from the FM who pointed the finger at Westminster for being the source of the financial troubles that have affected the health service.
– First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones AM
One of the biggest deceptions practiced by the party opposite is to divorce themselves from what's happening at the UK Level. The reality is that we are financed by the UK Treasury . It is a reality that our funding has been cut substantially, therefore we have to cut our cloth. He has been demanding we do it and what we have done is to protect health budgets as best we can
Curiously , as if by a concerted two pronged attack on the FM ,it was the Health service that occupied the Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Kirsty Williams who started by asking the FM , how many doctors and in what specialities and into which hospitals had doctors been recruited in the Work for Wales campaign? The FM said that those figures would be available as the campaign progressed which brought a terse reply.
– Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams AM
We've had a summer of headlines when hospital units have had to close through a lack of medical staff. For a very long time , the Labour party has wanted to create a world class health service. How much longer will we have to wait to see that service in Wales?
As you might expect , there was a swift riposte with the finger yet again pointing down the M4 to England
– First Minister , Carwyn Jones AM
What about the shambles your party has created in England? As for Wales it is the case that issues regarding medical recruitment have been there for some time. What has changed is that colleges increasingly want doctors to work in large groups and increasingly doctors want to work in large centres, a point made to me many many times by consultants. Bearing these recent changes in mind we decided to launch a campaign to recruit doctors to Wales and we expect that campaign to succeed
And Leanne Wood , who had earlier in the day been stressing the importance of Wales building on the positive benefits brought to us by the Olympics and Paralympics turned her attention to the important role she believes that all trade unions should play in the Workforce Partnership Council .
So, the first day almost behind us, it feels like we've never been away.