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£11m funding boost for ambulance service

The ambulance service is to receive a cash injection of £11m, the Welsh Government has announced.

The organisation which commissions emergency ambulances will receive £8m of extra funding this financial year.

The money will also help purchase 17 new emergency ambulances at a cost of £3m to add to the 243 fleet in Wales.

It's come from the £40m of 'winter pressures' money given to the NHS earlier this month.

The new chief ambulance services commissioner for Wales Stephen Harrhy said the money will not only help improve response times but help 'deliver an improved clinical service'.

"Improving the performance of the emergency ambulance service is a priority for the Welsh Government. This multi-million pound investment is proof of that commitment.

"It will increase the number of frontline emergency ambulances available across Wales. The Emergency Ambulance Services Committee has also invested £7.5m to allow the ambulance service to employ 120 additional paramedics."

– Prof Mark Drakeford, Health Minister

Welsh Government 'welcomes' waiting times report

The Welsh Government has welcomed today's report by the Wales Audit Office which shows the NHS isn't delivering low waiting times for patients having elective surgery.

A spokesperson said there's good practice underway across Wales and waiting times for patients has been falling since last year.

"We welcome the Wales Audit Office's report, which recognises the good practice underway across Wales, the prudent healthcare agenda and our planned care programme, which will set and deliver good practice across the country.

"The report shows nine out of 10 patients are waiting less than 26 weeks and the median wait is just under 10 weeks. Waiting times for diagnostic tests have also been cut, with the number of patients waiting more than eight weeks falling by 24% since May 2014.

"We expect health boards to continue to improve performance against referral to treatment times targets; this will be outlined in their integrated medium term plans, which will be submitted at the end of this month."

– Welsh Government spokesperson

Changes will lead to 'improved standards of care'

This is an important day – and an important judgement – for service reconfiguration in Wales. Health services need to evolve and modernise to meet the changing needs of the population and take full advantage of the benefits of new technology and advances in clinical skills.

“The court found all aspects of the procedures adopted by both the health board and the Health Minister to be fair and lawful. “The Health Minister is very pleased that this matter is now settled and the people living in the Hywel Dda area can look forward to improved standards of care in the future.”

– A Welsh Government spokesperson


Judge dismisses NHS changes challenge

Campaigners in west Wales have lost three judicial reviews into the legality of the downgrading of A&E services at the Prince Phillip Hospital in Llanelli.

Protests have been held this year against the decision to downgrade A&E services at the Llanelli hospital

Campaigners called on the High Court in Cardiff to look** **at how the decision was made by Hywel Dda Health Board,

They also questioned the decision to close the neonatal unit at Withybush Hospital in Pembrokeshire which led to protests.

Local people were concerned that premature babies would have to leave the county and travel to Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen.

Campaigner Tony Flatley said today they were disappointed with the court's decision but would take advice from their legal team and appeal if they could.

Separate Welsh contracts 'no longer viable'

Negotiating pay for consultants separately in Wales is 'no longer viable', according to the health minister.

Following an announcement that the Welsh NHS is to pay all staff the living wage, Mark Drakeford said:

“In the absence of meaningful negotiations with BMA Wales, I feel I have no option but to conclude that it is no longer viable to maintain a separate Welsh contract.

“We will seek formally to join the England and Northern Ireland negotiations with a view to implementing this contract in the future, which ensures consultants in Wales have the same opportunities as their colleagues in other parts of the UK.”

The Welsh NHS Confederation says it regrets that there have been no meaningful discussions on the matter:

Richard Tompkins, Director, NHS Wales Employers, said:

“We very much regret that it has not been possible to negotiate on the paybill for medical staff in Wales.

“We now want to work with colleagues in Welsh Government and BMA Cymru to ensure that moving to a UK contract delivers parity for doctors across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, fairly rewards continued excellence and reflects the needs of future service delivery.”

NHS Wales to become 'living wage' employer

The living wage will come into force from September

Around 2,400 of the lowest paid employees in the NHS in Wales will receive an increase in their basic salary as the organisation becomes a living wage employer.

The health minister announced today that all staff will be paid at least the living wage of £7.65 an hour – more than the minimum wage rate of £6.31 an hour.

The change which will come into force from September.

The Living Wage Commission has called for all public sector workers to be paid a living wage of at least £7.65 per hour.

Professor Drakeford said:

"This sends a clear signal that the Welsh Government is committed to tackling poverty and that NHS Wales is a fair, equitable employer.

“I have also decided the fairest option that will benefit the majority of workers is to award all Agenda for Change staff a flat cash payment of £160 and to protect the ability for those not at the top of their pay bands to move up to the next increment when it becomes due.

"This will mean that more than nine out of 10 NHS staff will receive a pay award in 2014-15."

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