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Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood AM gives conference speech

The leader of Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood AM, is giving her speech at the party's conference in Llangollen. Our Political Editor Adrian Masters is there for us.

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  1. Nick Powell

Plaid leader claims her party's the only real alternative

Although Plaid Cymru's main focus is normally on winning power in the Assembly, it's holding a very Westminster focused conference in Llangollen over the next two days. The party's leader, Leanne Wood, sees her speech later today as an important opportunity to get her General Election message across, as she gets far fewer opportunities than the leaders of other Westminster parties.

Leanne Wood is looking to provide a positive alternative to her political rivals. Credit: Benjamin Wright/PA Wire

She'll call them "four shades of Westminster grey", a four that includes UKIP, the new rival that out polled Plaid in the European election. Leanne Wood claims that Plaid's mission is to provide a positive alternative to what she calls "the dark side of politics". She says she saw that alternative -the politics of hope- when she campaigned for a yes vote in the Scottish independence referendum.

The Plaid leader says the party could emerge from the election with five Westminster seats, up from its current three, and form a group with its SNP and English Green allies that could hold the balance of power. They would use that influence to push for a move away from austerity in economic policy and demand that policing, justice and control of natural resources are devolved to the Assembly, together with major tax and borrowing powers.

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb quizzed by Welsh Affairs Select Committee on NHS row

Welsh Secretary, Stephen Crabb has been questioned this afternoon on the ongoing row between Westminster and the Welsh Government in Cardiff over the health service. The MP for Cardiff South and Penarth ,Stephen Doughty ,asked him if the continuing war of words was was damaging morale?

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UK health minister's wrong -Welsh Lib Dem leader

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams, who's often one of the fiercest critics of Welsh Labour's running of the health service, has condemned the UK Health Secretary's claims about the NHS in Wales.

Jeremy Hunt claimed that Welsh patients seeking treatment in England are causing "huge pressure" on hospitals there. He also said that the Welsh NHS is not prepared to pay for their treatment, a claim described as "nonsense" by the Welsh Government.

Kirsty Williams is AM for Brecon and Radnor, where many people have hospital treatment across the border. She has now written to Jeremy Hunt, stating that he is wrong on three counts.

Firstly, a good number of my constituents receive excellent care at The County Hospital in Hereford, and have done for many years because The County is their nearest District General Hospital. Whilst I know that there are problems in the Health service in Wales, I am alarmed that the current rhetoric might give my constituents the incorrect impression that they are not welcome or able to access treatment in Hereford, thereby putting them at risk of harm. Secondly, in terms of payment, you will well be aware that all treatment received by Powys patients in Hereford is then paid for by Powys Teaching Local Health Board. There should be no inference whatsoever that any of my constituents are receiving or expecting to receive treatment that is not then paid for. Finally, I take issue with you claiming that my constituents being treated in Hereford causes ‘great pressure’ on the system in England. Actually, having Welsh patients treated at The County Hospital helps maintain the services there by contributing significantly to the critical mass of patients needed to sustain a hospital of The County’s size.

– Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams AM

Northern Irish leaders meet First Minister for talks

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness are both due to meet Carwyn Jones Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA

The First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland are due to hold talks with the Welsh First Minister later today. Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness will discuss co-operating with Carwyn Jones to seek more devolution following the promises that have been made to Scotland.

The Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, is not expected to be present as he is preparing to hand over to his successor, Nicola Sturgeon. Once Sturgeon is in post, Welsh and Northern Irish leaders will look to discuss devolutions matters with her.

Wales does lag behind on health says Plaid

Plaid Cymru's health spokesperson Elin Jones has responded to what she calls the "turf war" between the UK and Welsh Health ministers by claiming that Wales does consistently lag behind both England and Scotland on key health indicators.

We have a Welsh Government that consistently sets itself lower targets on waiting times, access to diagnostic tests, and the ambulance service. It then fails to achieve these lower targets. When comparisons can be made between the 3 countries, then in some areas the Welsh performance is shockingly poor. Take for example, access times for an MRI scan. Only 1% of patients wait more than 6 weeks for an MRI scan in England, only 2% in Scotland, whilst 40% of Welsh patients are waiting more than 6 weeks. Other Welsh diagnostic waiting times fare no better.

The Welsh Government’s answer to this is that demand for these tests has risen. It is true that demand has risen. But the rise has been even greater in the other countries. Over a three year period, the number waiting for an MRI scan in Wales rose by 33%, in England by 41% and in Scotland by 62%. This is therefore no excuse for Wales’ unacceptably long waiting times.

– Plaid Cymru Health Spokesperson Elin Jones AM

Elin Jones added that Plaid Cymru wants to train and recruit 1,000 extra doctors and also re-examine the entire NHS workforce to "fundamentally realign our health and social care sector to finally integrate services fully". She claimed that it would lead to a system that could cater effectively for the elderly and frail, while keeping the NHS a free and accessible public service.

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