Ann Clwyd says there is a fear of speaking out when things go wrong in the Welsh NHS.
Speaking to an Assembly Committee, the Cynon Valley MP who reviewed the complaints system for the English NHS, says staff, patients and their families should feel free to complain without the fear of consequences.
The decision to invite Ann Clwyd MP to give evidence to the Assembly health committee has been welcomed by the Shadow Health Minister. The move had previously been blocked by Labour AMs although Ms Clwyd is Labour MP for the Cynon Valley.
Inviting Ann Clwyd to give evidence to this committee is a victory for common sense. Ann’s extensive work into standards of care within the Welsh NHS is significant and her views and conclusions must be treated with the utmost respect.
Previous attempts – by Labour - to block her evidence were hugely unwelcome. I sincerely hope that Ann will accept this invitation and look forward to hearing her evidence.
– Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar AM
The decision was taken at a private meeting of the health committee this morning. Plaid Cymru's health spokesperson, Elin Jones, made her third attempt to get the committee to agree to the invitation.
ITV News understands that on this occasion she warned that if there was no agreement she would take the issue to a full session of the Assembly, forcing a debate and a vote on instructing the committee to issue the invitation.
I’m pleased that Ann Clwyd will now be invited to give evidence to the Health Committee. Ann Clwyd has received valuable evidence about standards of care from many Welsh patients, including some from my own constituency, and it is right that she be invited in front of the committee to share these findings.
The views that have been collated by her could be extremely beneficial to our work in scrutinising the Welsh Government’s management of the NHS in Wales, and would give us important information from a patient’s perspective. I am glad that the Assembly Health Committee will hear these important contributions.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have welcomed today's decision to ask Ann Clwyd to give evidence to the Assembly health committee. Two previous attempts to invite her had been blocked by Labour AMs.
The Cynon Valley MP received hundreds of letters about poor treatment in Welsh hospitals during her review of conditions in the English NHS.
She was invited to carry out the review in England after she complained about how her late husband was treated before his death at the University Hospital in Cardiff.
It is absolutely right that Ann Clwyd MP is to be invited to give evidence to the Assembly’s Health Committee. While she may have conducted a review into the English NHS, she still received a large amount of information from Welsh patients.
It’s astonishing that Labour members continuously tried to block Ann Clwyd from giving evidence. The fact that she is an MP is completely irrelevant. The truth is they are afraid they won’t like what she has to say. Ann’s voice deserves to be heard
– Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams AM
Plaid Cymru sources say the Assembly health committee has finally agreed to invite Ann Clwyd MP to give evidence about the treatment of patients in Welsh hospitals. The Cynon Valley MP complained about the conditions endured by her late husband before he died at the University Hospital in Cardiff.
She subsequently carried out a review of hospitals in England for the UK Government but previous attempts by opposition parties to invite Ms Clwyd to give evidence in Cardiff Bay were blocked by Labour AMs. They argued it was constitutionally inappropriate to invite a backbench MP from Westminster.
It's understood that today a proposal from Plaid Cymru's health spokesperson, Elin Jones, that Ann Clwyd is asked to evidence as part of a wider review of patients' complaints on July 10, was accepted at a private meeting of the committee.
Ann Clwyd is in contact with the First Minister and the Health Minister and has provided them with the information she has to hand. As Ann herself has stated, most of the information she has collated relates to England and the info relating to Wales is anonymised and absent of detail. Ann Clwyd was asked by the Prime Minister to look at NHS complaints in England – her remit did not extend to Wales.
Opposition members are fully aware that it would be constitutionally inappropriate for the Health Committee to interview backbench MPs on their views around devolved matters - just as we wouldn’t expect backbench AMs to be giving evidence to Select Committees in Parliament. Rather than trying to manufacture rows in this way, the opposition focus should be on using the committee’s time to make sure the NHS is delivering the best possible care for the whole of Wales.
“We have not released the report and it is not our intention to release the report in full or breach confidentiality. We have received a number of requests under Freedom of Information legislation to release the full report all of which we have refused based on legal advise.
“We have recently been asked, again under FOI legislation, to release a summary of the report. The health board has an obligation in law to consider this request and sought external legal advice on how to respond. Based on that expert advice the health board responded last week to the request restricting the response to those statements already in the public domain and the outcome of the investigation.
“We have since been asked by Miss Clwyd not to widely share that information and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further until we have been able to meet with her solicitors in person.”
– Cardiff and Vale University Health Board spokesman
The First Minister's direct criticism of Ann Clwyd is as extraordinary as her response. Two senior Welsh Labour politicians are now publicly at odds over something important to the party (the NHS) and extremely sensitive (a painful personal experience of the NHS.)
Both reasons are why Labour politicians have been treading carefully with regard to the Cynon Valley MP's comments. That's changed. Welsh ministers are fighting back against sustained Westminster criticism and they see Ann Clwyd's campaign as part of the attack to be countered.
The risk for the Welsh Government is that the public may see attacks from Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron as clearly political, but in Ann Clwyd many see someone who's speaking up for patients after a painful experience. If that's the case, the First Minister's criticism could look merely personal.
The fact is that I have sent considerable information to the First Minister and to the Health Minister in the Welsh Assembly, and also to Welsh Assembly members - evidence of the widespread concerns about the performance of the NHS in Wales.
I have also met with Carwyn Jones and Mark Drakeford to further expand on those concerns.
In addition to statistical data, I also sent them a summary of the concerns contained in the hundreds of letters I have received from Welsh patients. Obviously the identity of those patients must always remain confidential, unless they give their express permission to release their names.
I am, however, upset by the irrelevant and casual reference to my husband's case in political and professional circles. My complaint on this issue is still under way and has not yet been resolved. Additionally my husband's case is, on its own, far less important than the hundreds of letters it has brought forward from those whose experience was apparently similar to mine.
I would far rather the Assembly concentrate on resolving the current crisis in the NHS in Wales than attacking me personally.
The Welsh Conservative Leader says the First Minister should hold talks with NHS campaigner Ann Clwyd rather than criticising her. Carwyn Jones dismissed the call from Andrew RT Davies because he said Ms Clwyd had produced 'no evidence' to support her concerns.
“Instead of condemning Ann Clwyd for speaking out, Carwyn Jones and Welsh Labour should be listening carefully and acting on her fears.
Each and every time Mrs Clwyd has raised concerns – they have been proved correct.
I have asked the First Minister if he will work with me to facilitate joint discussions with Ann Clwyd – and, despite his response - I will continue to work towards this aim.
Case after case. Fault after fault. The deeply ingrained problems within Labour’s NHS are clear for all to see. 28,000 people – or a town the size of Pontypridd – had been waiting more than eight weeks for diagnostic services at the end of January. The First Minister’s shocking refusal to acknowledge this is a matter of great regret. Welsh communities deserve to see these problems being appropriately dealt with and cross-party discussions with Ann Clwyd can help achieve this.