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First Minister urged to ‘set record straight’ on waiting times

A Welsh Conservative AM says NHS waiting times in Wales can be compared to those in England, despite Welsh Government claims that they’re calculated differently.

Darren Millar has written to the First Minister urging him to ‘set the record straight’ on remarks he’s made about different starting times used to work out when a waiting time begins.

Here’s the letter:

Dear Carwyn,

I write to you following my oral question on NHS improvement in the Senedd on Tuesday November 25th. At that point, I raised the serious issue of overlong waiting times in Wales and your own comments on comparison with England.

When confronted with hugely alarming statistics on waiting times here, as opposed to better performance in England, you have consistently claimed that comparison is not possible as a ‘chunk of time is missing’ in England’s statistics. Speaking during recent broadcast media appearances you have repeatedly claimed that the clock in England starts ticking ‘when a patient sees a consultant’; but this is not the case.

Regrettably, there is no time missing; there is no difference in when the clock begins to tick. I am afraid that the comparison really is as bad as it seems.

In September – with reference to incomplete pathways – 14.3% of Welsh patients had been waiting more than 26 weeks from GP referral to the start of treatment whilst in England just 2% had waited that long and some 93.5% had been seen within 18 weeks.

In the same period – with reference to complete pathways – just 78.3% of patients had been seen in less than 26 weeks in Wales whilst in England, that figure stood at 95.9 per cent (admitted adjusted).

I am confident that you did not wish to purposely mislead viewer and listeners, and I am equally confident that you will set the record straight on this issue and properly clarify your remarks.

Yours,

Darren

– Darren Millar AM, Conservative

Shadow Minister welcomes Ann Clwyd decision

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.

– Plaid Cymru Health Spokesperson Elin Jones AM

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Report 'horrific and appalling' says Shadow Minister

Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar has told AMs that the report on Bridgend and Neath Port Talbot hospitals was horrific and appalling, with echoes of previous reports, such as the Older Persons' Commissioner's Dignity in Care report.

He said people needed to know such failings will never again be tolerated. Mr Millar suggested that financial pressures were partly responsible for what had happened. He said the minister should meet patients and their families and personally apologise to them. Not that an apology would be enough.

Saying sorry isn't going to heal the wounds that this report has exposed.

– Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar AM

Mr Millar said he would not ask for heads to roll on this occasion, though he would like to know why the Chief Executive of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board was chosen to help the Betsi Cadwaladr board with its governance.

Tories call for urgent response to Keogh email

The Conservatives are calling for an urgent response from the Welsh Government to the concerns about Welsh hospital death rates raised by English NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh.

The concerns raised in this email confirm our serious worries over standards of care in the NHS.Professor Keogh’s recommendation of ‘investigation’ into mortality rates should be immediately undertaken and no longer ignored. It is a matter of great regret that Carwyn Jones and Welsh Labour appear to have dismissed the advice provided by this leading expert.For the sake of future generations - Welsh Conservatives have long called for a Keogh-style inquiry into NHS standards of care.I sincerely hope that this will now take place.

– Leader of the Opposition Andrew RT Davies AM

Professor Keogh’s comments are further proof of extremely serious problems within the Welsh NHS.If this leading expert has offered assistance and raised concerns over a potential cover-up – he should not be ignored.I am staggered at reports that his correspondence has gone unanswered and I urge Labour’s First Minister to clarify these reports as soon as possible.

Mortality rates in Wales are of huge concern and I have long raised questions over recent misleading statistics. NHS Wales has suffered catastrophically from Labour’s record-breaking budget cuts. Queuing ambulances, bed blocking, rocketing waiting lists and missed response times continue to throw the service into crisis.A Keogh-style inquiry would address serious concerns and see structures put in place to protect communities.

– Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar AM

AMs join forces on neonatal plans

A Labour and a Conservative AM have joined forces to push for a intensive baby care centre to be based at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan. Ann Jones and Darren Millar have put aside political differences to welcome the First Minister's decision to develop a neonatal care centre in North Wales.

The intervention overturns plans by Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board to send all seriously ill babies to Arrowe Park on the Wirral. Carwyn Jones says the new centre will treat the 'vast majority' of sick babies with the worst cases still treated in Cheshire.

Ysbyty Glan Clwyd is one of two possible locations along with Wrexham's Maelor Hospital. A decision's expected early next year. Ann Jones and Darren Millar have issued this joint statement:

This announcement is very welcome indeed and we will now be working hard to ensure that the new enhanced Neonatal Intensive Care Centre is based at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.

We feel it?makes sense for the Centre to be in Bodelwyddan given the excellent accommodation for families of sick babies provided by Ty Croeso Dawn Elizabeth House; the accessibility of the hospital from the A55; and its location in the? heart of North Wales.

Whilst the decision represents a victory for North Wales, the First Minister still needs to make a decision about the location of the centre – which could end up in either Bodelwyddan or Wrexham.

We feel that Ysbyty Glan Clwyd is the perfect site and will be pressing for the First Minister to opt for this location.

– Ann Jones AM & Darren Millar AM

Neonatal care decision 'vindicates' campaign say Tories

The Welsh Conservatives have welcomed the First Minister's announcement of a neonatal care centre for North Wales. But they say it should be established as soon as possible.

Communities across north Wales deserve an end to their uncertainty and this report goes some way to achieving that.

It is now crucially important that each of its recommendations is implemented swiftly – and in full.

A cross-party campaign long warned that axing long-term neonatal care in the region was dangerous – a view supported by health professionals and clinicians. Today this campaign has been vindicated.

Communities have been left in limbo for far too long and a site for a new centralised centre for neonatal care must now be identified as soon as possible.

– Darren Millar AM, Shadow Health MInister

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Blood collection fall is 'evidence of NHS in chaos'

The Welsh Conservatives' Shadow Health Minister says the fall in blood collection by the Welsh Blood Service is another example of problems caused by underfunding of the NHS.

The Welsh Labour Government is ultimately responsible for the management of the NHS and that includes the Welsh Blood Service.

There is an old adage in life which says - ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ - yet here we see another example of Welsh Labour’s record breaking NHS cuts forcing unpopular changes in services and costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds more than predicted.

These shocking figures are yet further evidence of our NHS in chaos under Welsh Labour.

– Darren Millar AM, Shadow Health MInister

Labour A&E campaigners 'slapped down' say Tories

The Welsh Conservatives are describing Carwyn Jones' comments about a campaign group in support of A&E services at Llantrisant's Royal Glamorgan hospital as a 'slap-down' to Labour politicians involved. The party's Shadow Health Minister said:

This unprecedented slap down is more proof that the Labour Party is falling apart on the NHS.

Carwyn Jones has not only tightened the leash on his Education Minister, he’s strapped on a muzzle and forcibly caged him.

The campaign and its shroud-waving clearly show that Carwyn Jones’ government is in complete turmoil on NHS reform.

– Darren Millar AM, Shadow Health MInister

We'd keep five A&E depts in the south, say Tories

Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar tells tonight's Sharp End programme that all district general hospitals in South Wales should continue to offer a full range of accident and emergency services. He was speaking following the announcement of a consultation on the future of A&E units.

You can see the full interview at 1035pm ITV Cymru Wales.

Abandon A&E change plans say Tories

Plans to change hospital emergency departments in South Wales should be abandoned, according to the Welsh Conservatives. The party claims proposals due to be announced later this month will see the number of A&E departments in the region reduced.

Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar said,

With demand for our emergency services on the rise, any plans to downgrade up to half of A&E departments in South Wales are unacceptable and must be abandoned.

Whilst sensible service modernisation in the region is something that we can all support, foolish plans to strip away emergency services from local hospitals are the very last thing that patients in South Wales will be prepared to accept.

– Darren Millar AM, Shadow Health MInister
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