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Link Wales to Northern powerhouse says Crabb

The Welsh Secretary is making a series of visits across the north

The Welsh Secretary is expected to say he wants the North of Wales to build links to the UK Government's planned Northern English powerhouse.

He's starting a two day tour of the region during which he'll visit a range of key sites, meet businesses and other organisations.

And in a speech at the annual Daily Post business awards, he's expected to say:

North Wales is a beacon for investment and jobs - a Northern Powerhouse for the Welsh economy. This government has a long-term economic plan that creates the right conditions for growth in North Wales - a recovery that is broad based and balanced; that reaches into every region of the UK, so that London and the South-east don’t suck in the best at the expense of the rest.

North Wales is not just an economic region in itself, it is part of a wider community – not just South to Swansea and Cardiff, but North and East to Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Humberside.

The Northern Powerhouse the Chancellor has spoken about is not exclusive - not restricted to England. It’s about linking the northern regions, including North Wales, to trade, grow, attract private investment, and attract the best people. Business leaders in North Wales are the driving force behind the economic recovery in Wales and the people that are making North Wales our own Northern Powerhouse.

– Stephen Crabb MP, Secretary of State for Wales


Ambulance guidelines changed following inquest into MP's mother's death

The Welsh Ambulance Service has responded to the claims of a Conservative MP that her 'mother died under the Welsh NHS.' Details of Anne Main's comments click here.

An inquest into the death of Ms Main's mother, Rita Wiseman, found there were faults with the ambulance which attended her but they did not contribute to her death. You can read Wales Online coverage of the inquest by clicking here.

Following Anne Main's comments during Prime Minister's Questions, Richard Lee, Head of Clinical Services at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said:

We deeply regret the failure of this piece of equipment, and our thoughts and condolences remain with Mrs Main and her family.

The Trust has spent £4 million in the last two years updating the clinical equipment on our emergency ambulances.

Our ambulances are among the best equipped in the UK, and we have robust systems in place to ensure that faulty equipment is serviced and repaired in line with the manufacturers’ recommendations.

The Trust has a procedure in place to allow crews time to check the equipment on their vehicle at the beginning of their shift, and staff are being reminded about their responsibilities to do this.

We are in the process of producing specific guidance on the pre-use check of vacuum mattresses, the piece of equipment in question at the inquest into the death of Mrs Wiseman, and anticipate that this will be shared with staff early next week.

Since April the Trust has recruited 86 staff into its workforce across Wales, including 43 staff into its Urgent Care Service, all of whom will be operational by the end of the month; 39 Paramedics, including 11 HEI (Higher Education Institute) Paramedics, all of whom will be operational by next February; and four Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), who will be operational by next April.

A further 16 Paramedics will be appointed in the coming weeks and are expected to be operational by February, and 44 EMTs will also be officially appointed, all of whom will be operational by next April.

In addition, we are continuing to upgrade our fleet with thanks to a £4 million investment from Welsh Government, which will enable the service to buy 41 new vehicles, including emergency ambulances and specialist rapid response vehicles, to replace existing ambulance fleet.

We would like to reassure the public that we are fully committed to providing a safe and high quality ambulance service for the people of Wales.

– Richard Lee, Head of Clinical Services at the Welsh Ambulance Service

Tory policies 'like a virus preying on Wales' says Shadow Welsh Secretary

Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith says the effects of Conservative policies are 'like a virus preying on Wales.' He was speaking ahead of a debate in the House of Commons on the impact of UK Government policies on Wales.

Most people in Wales are worse off - £1600 on average worse off. Wales is losing more in the social security cuts than any other part of Britain. More disabled people affected by the bedroom tax. We know in our community that the reality of a Tory government is that it is like a virus preying on Wales.

– Owen Smith MP, Shadow Welsh Secretary


Time to work together on the NHS says Welsh Government

A Welsh Government source says it's time for the Welsh NHS to stop being used as a political football. The comments came following the latest criticism during Prime Minister's Questions of Labour's record in running the health service in Wales.

You can read details and watch the exchange by clicking here. A spokesman for the Welsh Health Minister said:

In response to the NHS in Wales being raised yet again in PMQs, a Tory candidate in Birmingham said he was unhappy with the way the issue was being used as a political football. Dr Luke Evans is also a GP. We’d agree with his statement that the NHS in England and Wales face similar pressures, and we should be working together where we can to address those issues.

– Spokesperson for the Health Minister

This is the tweet referred to in that statement.

Tory MP claims mother 'died under the Welsh NHS'

A Conservative MP has told the Commons that her mother 'died under the Welsh NHS.' The MP for St. Albans, Anne Main, who was born in Cardiff, said an inquest into her mother's death found that ambulances 'routinely had kit that hadn't been checked.'

She made the comments during Prime Minister's Questions and ahead of a Labour debate in the chamber on the effect of UK Government policies on Wales.

In response David Cameron said there should be a debate on the health service in Wales which he said is 'in trouble.'

Criticism of Labour's record of running the Welsh NHS are a regular feature of Prime Minister's Questions. Labour has called the attacks a 'war on Wales' but the UK Government says it's legitimate scrutiny of political decisions by the Welsh Government.

First Minister urged to ‘set record straight’ on waiting times

A Welsh Conservative AM says NHS waiting times in Wales can be compared to those in England, despite Welsh Government claims that they’re calculated differently.

Darren Millar has written to the First Minister urging him to ‘set the record straight’ on remarks he’s made about different starting times used to work out when a waiting time begins.

Here’s the letter:

Dear Carwyn,

I write to you following my oral question on NHS improvement in the Senedd on Tuesday November 25th. At that point, I raised the serious issue of overlong waiting times in Wales and your own comments on comparison with England.

When confronted with hugely alarming statistics on waiting times here, as opposed to better performance in England, you have consistently claimed that comparison is not possible as a ‘chunk of time is missing’ in England’s statistics. Speaking during recent broadcast media appearances you have repeatedly claimed that the clock in England starts ticking ‘when a patient sees a consultant’; but this is not the case.

Regrettably, there is no time missing; there is no difference in when the clock begins to tick. I am afraid that the comparison really is as bad as it seems.

In September – with reference to incomplete pathways – 14.3% of Welsh patients had been waiting more than 26 weeks from GP referral to the start of treatment whilst in England just 2% had waited that long and some 93.5% had been seen within 18 weeks.

In the same period – with reference to complete pathways – just 78.3% of patients had been seen in less than 26 weeks in Wales whilst in England, that figure stood at 95.9 per cent (admitted adjusted).

I am confident that you did not wish to purposely mislead viewer and listeners, and I am equally confident that you will set the record straight on this issue and properly clarify your remarks.



– Darren Millar AM, Conservative
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