During First Minister's Questions, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said Carwyn Jones should take responsibility for problems in the Welsh health service. The Senedd exchanges following moves by Hywel Dda health board to postpone some operations to prepare for winter emergencies.
Leanne Wood said to the First Minister:
Are you aware of the level of outrage in Hywel Dda amongst clinicians who have been told that they will have a third of their workload taken away from them this winter. They will be underutilised for four months out of twelve. These staff members still have to be paid and people are stuck in waiting lists in pain and awaiting surgery. When can the people of Wales expect to see you take some responsibility for the problems in the Welsh NHS?
Patients awaiting non-urgent orthopaedic surgery in mid and west Wales have been left in limbo – unsure if their appointments will be met on time and confused about the coming months.
Carwyn Jones’s legacy of NHS cuts and his failure to fill vacancies has led to this pressure on services, yet all he can do is side-step and dismiss the very real concerns of communities in the region.
It is clear from both the health board and UNISON that radical changes are being proposed and I am shocked and appalled that the First Minister refuses to acknowledge this.
The UK Government produced a winter pressures plan for hospitals at the end of the summer. In Wales, Labour has refused to do the same – forcing health boards into a corner.
I urge Mr Jones to recognise the health board’s plans, intervene, and safeguard orthopaedic surgery as soon as possible.
The First Minister has faced sustained criticism in the Assembly chamber from all three opposition party leaders over a health board's plans to cope with winter pressures. Hywel Dda health board says it will reschedule some non-urgent operations in order to focus on emergency surgery.
At First Minister's Questions, Carwyn Jones was criticised by the Conservatives, Plaid Cymru and Liberal Democrats who said the plans would lead to further worrying delays for patients. But Mr Jones said Hywel Dda's proposals stemmed from sensible planning:
We are planning for winter pressures. Local health boards are planning for an appropriate number of operations that create the capacity to deal with emergencies in the future.