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Liberal Democrats pledge to extend 'More Nurses' Bill

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The Nurse Staffing Levels Bill will become law today, making Wales the first European nation with a legal duty to have sufficient staffing levels on acute hospital wards.

The Bill was proposed by Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, and the Assembly voted in favour of it last month.

Williams has pledged to extend the law to include mental health wards, maternity wards and community nurses in the next Assembly.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats will make Wales a world leader for patient care.

In the forthcoming election, the Welsh Liberal Democrats will show that we have listened to people’s concerns. We all want NHS staff to have the time to care for our loved ones, which is why the Welsh Liberal Democrats will deliver safe staffing levels across the NHS. We’ll put more nurses in our hospitals and in our communities to deliver an NHS that works for you.

– Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats

Cancer drug will continue to be available in Wales

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The pancreatic cancer drug Abraxane will continue to be available in Wales despite a decision by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to not recommend its use in the NHS.

Abraxane was recommended as a treatment option to NHS Wales by the All-Wales Medical Strategy Group (AWMSG) in September 2014, a group whose recommendation is usually superseded by NICE.

Celgene, the manufacturer of Abraxane, is now looking to submit 'real-world' data to NICE and seek a re-appraisal within the next two years.

I’m pleased to confirm the Welsh Government has finalised an access agreement with Celgene to enable continued availability of Abraxane for Welsh patients with pancreatic cancer. This agreement recognises that current treatment options are limited and the prognosis for patients is often poor.

– Professor Mark Drakeford MP, Health and Social Services Minister

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'Contingency plan' in Wales for junior doctors strike

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The Welsh Government says it's asked health boards and NHS trusts to implement contingency plans for any effects the junior doctors' strike in England has on Welsh patients.

Health Minister Mark Drakeford is seeking assurances from the Department of Health in England about the impact on Welsh patients who are cared for by English NHS organisations as it develops its contingency plans.

Wales has a strong tradition of working in partnership with our staff and their representatives.

Junior doctors from any part of the UK interested in working in Wales will find a very warm welcome here.

– Welsh Government Spokesperson

You can read more about the strike here.

New health centre for Blaenau Ffestiniog

A new community health centre for Blaenau Ffestiniog is to be built with £3.9m of funding from the Welsh Government.

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The primary care resource centre is to be built on the site of Blaenau Memorial Hospital, a listed building funded by donations with special significance to local people.

The new centre will include:

  • Improved GP services with the ability to expand and improve recruitment.
  • Consultant led palliative care outpatients and specialist nurse clinics, consultant led respiratory outpatients clinics.
  • Improved children’s services in a dedicated suite. More child and adolescent mental health services, provide a permanent midwifery base and antenatal clinics.
  • Increased paediatric speech and language sessions, consultant paediatrician and community paediatrician outpatient sessions, school nursing and health visiting services at the same site.
  • Return of learning disability services to Blaenau with a regular consultant psychiatrist clinic. Provide a new base for mental health and substance misuse with increased group sessions.
  • Introduce new telemedicine facilities to improve access to services, through the installation of a technology suite. This will allow a range of virtual outpatient clinics to be established across a number of specialties.
  • Create new community dental accommodation with potential to attract an NHS salaried dentist.

We’re delighted that funding for Canolfan Goffa Ffestiniog has been approved.

We are confident that the state of the art development will improve primary and community services for the residents of the town, delivering a wider range of health, social care and voluntary services in fit for purpose premises. We also expect that the new Centre will become a focal point in the town for health, well-being and lifestyle advice and support.

– Peter Higson, Chairman Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

'Extra £1.1bn' invested in Welsh NHS

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The Welsh Government says more than £1.1bn in additional investment has been made in NHS Wales over the last two years.

It says the health budget has increased by more than 9% since 2013-14, which is equivalent to an extra £178 being spent on health for every person in Wales.It is now said to be the largest it has been and accounts for 46% of the Welsh Government’s total annual budget.

Over the course of the last 17 years, the Welsh NHS is seeing more people than ever before; it is referring more people to hospital-based services; it is providing faster access to diagnostic services and it is providing faster, more effective care, using the most advanced treatments available.

Performance in some areas is still not at the level we would like it to be in all areas but improvements have and continue to be made. I am determined to ensure performance continues to improve across the NHS.”

– Vaughan Gething AM, Deputy Health Minister

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Health Minister: No agreement yet on NHS commission

The Health Minister Mark Drakeford has taken to Twitter to clarify that there has been "no agreement yet" on the establishment of a cross-party commission on the future of the NHS in Wales.

Earlier, the Welsh Liberal Democrats announced: "Following discussions between Welsh Lib Dem Leader Kirsty Williams and the Welsh Health Minister, an agreement has been reached to set up a Commission with an independent chair, representatives from all four Welsh parties, medical staff and patients."

Mark Drakeford has now said that, instead, there have just been "a number of proposals to move things forward."

Welsh Govt and Lib Dems agree NHS commission

The Welsh Government and the Welsh Liberal Democrats have agreed in principle to set up a commission to look at the future of the NHS here.

In a letter to Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams, Health Minister Mark Drakeford proposed the commission would have an independent chair, and cross-party representation.

It would aim to:

  • Identify some of the key issues currently facing the health service - with the evidence already available
  • Draw out the challenges for the coming years - for example around funding, workforce and demand
  • Examine options for the way forward - and make recommendations about the future of the health service
The performance of the NHS in Wales has been under a great deal of scrutiny in recent years.

Mr Drakeford suggested the commission could start work in April, and report back either immediately before or after the 2016 Assembly election.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called on Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Conservatives to agree to take part in the commission.

Lifestyle choices putting pressure on NHS

Lifestyle choices can have an impact on our health and the NHS Credit: Johnny Green/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Most people in Wales now accept that poor lifestyle choices aren't just affecting their health, they're placing pressure on the NHS. That's according to findings from the Welsh NHS Confederation:

"A real realisation that our behaviours, whether we drink, smoke, eat unhealthly, don't get enough exercise... has an impact on how we use health services. And also a realisation that healthcare is a finite resource and that people have to use our health services better and more wisely."

– Helen Birtwhistle, Director, Welsh NHS Confederation
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