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Welsh minister blasts UK Government's 'tissue of lies'

The Welsh Health Minister has written to Jeremy Hunt, the UK Government's Health Secretary, accusing him of 'being grossly discourteous and demeaning' of his office by allowing the leak of private correspondence between the two governments.

The accusations follow news coverage of a dispute over plans to allow scrutiny of health services in all four of the UK's nations by the international body, the OECD.

Reports, based on leaked documents, claimed that the Welsh Government was refusing to participate. The Welsh Government says it and the governments of Scotland and Northern Ireland were concerned that the exercise had been hijacked for political reasons.

Now Health Minister Mark Drakeford has written to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in very strong terms. The text of the letter is below:

I write in reply to your letter of yesterday's date. As a direct result of it, this is a final request for you to adhere to the normal conventions surrounding the publication of independent reports and end your attempts to subvert the process. If you do not, we will have to consider commissioning and publishing our own independent study by the OECD in a way which does not risk contamination by the overt politicisation of the process for which you are directly responsible.

The assertion in your letter that you feel you have a right to quote selectively from an unpublished report in the lead up to the General Election is truly shocking - it flies in the face of every principle of the proper conduct of public life. Your failure to clearly and openly set out such an intention at the time when the study was commissioned will appear to some to be deliberate and deceptive.

The NHS in Wales will not be the victim of any Conservative party ploy to drag its reputation through the mud for entirely partisan political purposes.

At a time when the four home nations of the UK need to be working closely together to address the threat of Ebola, your willingness to put the interests of your party above those of the public is especially reprehensible. By the time your letter, marked Official-Sensitive, arrived at my office, it had already been handed to one of your backbench MPs and to the London media. That was grossly discourteous and demeaning of the office you are privileged to hold. As it has already been used to augment the tissue of lies which are told on behalf of your party, you will not be surprised that I have decided that this letter too will be available for publication.

– Mark Drakeford AM, Health Minister

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Welsh Health Minister accuses Jeremy Hunt of being 'grossly discourteous' by leaking correspondence

Earlier today, Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt told MPs there was "absolutely intolerable pressure" on hospitals on the England-Wales border.

His comments came as Conservative Stephen Mosley, MP for the City of Chester, raised concerns about the "strains" placed on healthcare in his constituency through patients from Wales.

Minister brands Mail Welsh NHS claims 'insulting'

Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford has hit out at the Daily Mail's claims of an "exodus" of Welsh patients to England.

Prof Drakeford added that some Welsh patients in Powys and north-east Wales may go to hospitals in England because they are closer.

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Auditor to probe Pembrokeshire Council chief's £330,000 pay-off

The Wales Audit Office has confirmed it is investigating the severance arrangement agreed with Pembrokeshire Council's departing Chief Executive Bryn Parry-Jones.

Credit: Pembrokeshire Council

On Thursday, the council announced that Mr Parry-Jones would leave his post by the end of the month, with councillors agreeing a settlement thought to be £330,000.

It follows a row over cash payments to Mr Parry-Jones in lieu of pension contributions.

Welsh NHS: Health Minister hits out at 'spurious accusations'

Health Minister Mark Drakeford AM has tweeted a strong defence of the Welsh NHS.

It follows allegations printed in the Mail on Sunday over poor care for dementia patients at a ward at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.

On Sunday, the Welsh Government said it was aware of a review commissioned by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and the police investigation.

The health board says it has apologised to patients and their families, adding that the ward has been closed since last December.

Minister: Charity 'deliberately misleads' public about prisons

The Prisons Minister has strongly rejected claims from charity the Howard League for Penal Reform that prisons are "in crisis" due to staff shortages.

Andrew Selous said: "It's beyond me why the Howard League go out of their way to deliberately mislead the public on the state of our prisons."

"They are less overcrowded than they have been for a decade and they are well-run, due to the dedication of the hard-working staff in them. Consistently trying to claim otherwise helps no one," he added.

The charity says the number of officers at Cardiff Prison fell by 40% between 2010 and 2014 Credit: PA

The Howard League says its figures, obtained from MoJ 'statistical releases', showed a 40% fall in officer numbers at Cardiff Prison, a 32% fall at Swansea, and a 33% fall at Usk/Pencoed.

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