Welsh Government reshuffle

The Welsh Government announces a surprise reshuffle of the Cabinet. Cardiff West AM Mark Drakeford enters the Cabinet for the first time, taking over from Lesley Griffiths as Health Minister.

Minister showed 'disgraceful ignorance' claim Conservatives

The Welsh Conservatives have condemned the former Health Minister's decision to refer back objections to changes to hospital services in west Wales. They claim Lesley Griffiths effectively ignored the Community Health Council's concerns about the Hywel Dda Health Board's proposals.

This move is a disgraceful ignorance of ministerial accountability. It beggars belief that the views of a watchdog representing the public can be so blatantly disregarded. This is effectively bouncing the referral back to the watchdog and avoiding any responsibility. I hope the new health minister – whose appointment is welcome – will take a far more appropriate approach to an issue that affects many thousands of people.

– Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar AM

The old minister has done little more than pass the buck and it is no surprise that she has been shifted from her portfolio. Her refusal to stand accountable is a sad indictment of a Labour government completely out of touch with Pembrokeshire. I urge the new minister to review this decision and look very carefully at the health board’s unnecessary plans.”

– Preseli Pembrokeshire AM Paul Davies

Former minister told health council to rethink its objections to change

by Nick Powell

Just before she was moved in the cabinet reshuffle, former Health Minister Lesley Griffiths signed a letter to Assembly Members telling them she could not consider in their present form objections from the local Community Health Council to proposed changes to hospital services in west Wales.

The proposals by the Hywel Dda Health Board are some of the most controversial of the proposed changes across Wales, involving hospital closures and other hospitals losing some of their services. The Health Minister must consider any objections formally raised by the local Community Health Council.

Lesley Griffiths wrote that there was "no clarity" over which of the changes it can support and which it judges should be referred for ministerial determination. She has told the council to hold fresh talks with the Hywel Dda Health Board and resubmit any remaining objections by 5 April.

[They] must work together to ensure safe and sustainable services ... the Community Health Council is obliged to recognise that maintaining the status quo may not be an acceptable response and must work with the local health board to agree how such services can be maintained within available resources.

Local resolution must be sought wherever possible and referral to Welsh ministers should only be made as a last resort. Where particular proposals are judged not to be in the best interest of health services in the area, the CHC must propose alternative solution s for providing safe and sustainable services to their local community.

– Former Health Minister Lesley Griffiths AM

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First Minister completes reshuffle with swipe at UK Government

The First Minister says the new Communities and Tackling Poverty Minister, Huw Lewis, will renew the Welsh Government’s efforts in, as he puts it, "mitigating the worst effects of the UK Government’s welfare reform agenda".

Jobs and growing the Welsh economy remain our number one priority, but we will also work tirelessly to improve the delivery of our public services.My commitment to do everything we can to stand up for the people of Wales, particularly in these challenging times, remains firm. That is why I have created a new portfolio dedicated to improving the lives of the poorest in our country, building strong communities and creating opportunities for all.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

Two new faces -and no sackings

by Nick Powell

Carwyn Jones has completed his cabinet reshuffle with the appointment of Alun Davies as Natural Resources and Food Minister. He steps up from the deputy rural affairs portfolio to take over from his old boss John Griffiths, with responsibility for the environment.

No-one has left the cabinet but two have joined it, meaning there will be fewer deputy ministers as the total size of the government is limited by law. The two new faces have come to the top table by very different routes.

Mark Drakeford was a defeated Labour candidate in 1999 and served Rhodri Morgan as a special adviser. Alun Davies is a former Plaid Cymru parliamentary candidate who changed parties to become a regional AM before successfully taking on the task of winning back Blaenau Gwent at the last election.

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Two still survive from Alun Michael's cabinet

by Nick Powell

Jane Hutt keeping finance scotches rumours there might be a 'budget and business' minister -a role with which Cardiff Bay gossip had linked with Leighton Andrews. Jane Hutt and Edwina Hart, who some had tipped for the sack, have both been in cabinet since Alun Michael announced his team in 1999.

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