UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has replied to the Welsh Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, who'd accused him of leaking correspondence and trying to politicise an independent survey of the NHS in all parts of the United Kingdom by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The Health Minister, Mark Drakeford AM, says despite an increase in the numbers of people who don't smoke in cars when children are present there is still a stubborn percentage of people who still do. He says he wants to close that gap and introducing the law will make the final difference.
Health Minister, Mark Drakeford has set a target for an '' urgent improvement" in ambulance response times . He's demanding that the Welsh Ambulance Service steps up its performance within three months.
The annual Welsh Health Survey found half of adults reported currently being treated for an illness, and only around a third eating the recommended fruit and vegetables, or being physically active five days in the previous week.
Here are the key findings:
- 50% of adults reported currently being treated for an illness, including high blood pressure or respiratory illness
- 33% of adults reported that their day-to-day activities were limited because of a health problem or disability
- 20% of adults reported fair or poor general health
- 21% of adults reported they currently smoke
- 42% of adults reported drinking above the guidelines on at least one day in the past week
- 33% of adults reported eating five or more portions of fruit and vegetables the previous day
- 29% of adults reported being physically active on five or more days in the past week
- 58% of adults were classified as overweight or obese
Wales' Health Minister has warned that "too many people are making lifestyle choices that are damaging their health and endangering their lives."
He was speaking as the annual Welsh Health Survey is published, showing 50 per cent of adults are currently being treated for illness, 21 per cent smoke, and 58 per cent are overweight or obese.
Mark Drakeford said: "We have seen progress, with a two per cent drop in the number of people smoking and a small decline in in levels of drinking."
“These findings show once again that Wales faces challenges when it comes to tackling some of our most stubborn lifestyle behaviours, which we know can contribute to health problems."
“This is why we have set out radical proposals in our Public Health White Paper to take action to protect our nation’s health, including introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol, restricting the use of e-cigarettes."
Three new national clinical leads will be appointed to help improve planned care services, stroke and diabetes care.
The clinical lead for stroke will aim to reduce the number of people who suffer a stroke and help increase survival rates, the lead for diabetes will focus on the care of those diagnosed with the condition, whilst the lead for planned care will aim to reduce waiting times across the health service.
"Our health service faces the combined challenges of austerity, an ageing population, more people living with long-term conditions and advances in new medicines...Planning the care we provide across the NHS is crucial to improving our efficiency" - Mark Drakeford, Health Minister.
A new way of measuring waiting times for cancer treatment is being trialled across Wales in a bid to improve patient care.
Doctors say the current targets - where patients need to be treated within 62 or 31 days, depending on how they are referred - is too 'blunt' an instrument.
But the Conservatives say the Welsh Government is simply scrapping targets it has failed to meet since 2008.
The Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, has told AMs that "sustained extreme weather conditions" explain why only 52.8% of ambulances responding to category A emergencies last month got to the patient within the eight minute target. He was answering an urgent question in the Senedd.
Kirsty Williams, for the Liberal Democrats, said that the Welsh Government had not been able to deliver the ambulance service that Wales needs and deserves. The Conservatives and Plaid Cymru both argued that ambulance times should not have got worse since January, when there was also bad weather.
The Minister said there had been a cumulative effect and he had come close to suspending response time targets altogether on police advice. Earlier today he announced new targets, for how soon a patient receives effective treatment, which he said were more relevant than ambulance response times.
The Welsh NHS Confederation argue that time is running out to make crucial changes to the NHS and that tough decisions need to be made to this year.
The Director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, Helen Birtwhistle, says there are problems with providing services for patients under a model of hospital care that was 'devised more than 50 years ago'.
The news comes as health bosses are meeting today to discuss the future of the service. The Welsh Government says reconfiguration is underway to ensure services aren't spread too thinly.