National Health Service marks 65 years

As the NHS enters its 66th year, we've been looking at the pressures the service is under and hearing from those who rely on it.

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Welsh Government will read Assembly Committee report into finances of NHS Wales 'with interest'

The Welsh Government says it will read a new report into the finances of NHS Wales "with interest."

The report by the Public Accounts Committee found that NHS Wales finances are improving, but "cannot yet be given a clean bill of health."

We thank the Committee for their work, and will read the report with interest. We are encouraged by their opening remarks that much progress has been made.

In addition, as the new NHS Finance Wales Bill comes into force in April this year, we know that health boards will be able to deliver better integrated service, workforce and financial planning.

– Welsh Government Spokesperson

'Significant concerns' for NHS Wales in new report

A new report by a Committee in the National Assembly says the state of NHS Wales finances are improving, but "cannot yet be given a clean bill of health."

The Public Accounts Committee report also expressed "significant concerns" about the controls in place to assist Health Boards plan more flexibly.

The funding of NHS Wales remains a huge challenge and while significant efforts have been made by those working with the Welsh health service to make the immediate savings needed to break even, there is a still a great deal more that needs to be done.

The Committee welcomes some of the progress made by the Welsh Government in addressing health finances, particularly with regards to more flexible arrangements, as that is something we have called for ourselves in previous reports.

However, we have significant concerns about the controls in place to assist Health Boards in planning more flexibly, and we want to see more stringent accountability of senior managers and greater transparency regarding financial planning.

It was disturbing that a simple request for up to date figures regarding NHS Wales' financial position was not met for two months afterwards. We believe the Welsh Government should publish monthly financial updates for NHS Wales in a further commitment to transparency and accountability.

Finally, the Committee believes that bailing out health boards, most recently to the tune of £200 million, simply isn't sustainable.

People need to have faith that their health services are being delivered effectively, within their means and without drastic measures such as surgery cancellations and closing wards to temporarily balance the books.

We urge the Welsh Government to take on board our recommendations.

– Darren Millar AM, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee.

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'Problems remain' in NHS Wales finances, says report

A new report says NHS Wales finances still need to be improved Credit: PA

The state of NHS Wales finances are improving but cannot yet be given a clean bill of health, according to a new report from a National Assembly for Wales Committee.

The Public Accounts Committee has welcomed Welsh Government moves towards more flexible financial planning, but is not convinced that the introduction of the new system has been sufficiently well planned to ensure it is fit for purpose.

It believes Health Boards should be provided with more assistance in developing financial plans and that there should be clear information available concerning the criteria by which they are being assessed.

The Committee was also concerned that a request for up to date information regarding NHS Wales' financial position was not met for two months, leaving members to wonder whether the Welsh Government had a sufficient handle on the situation.

Confusion also surrounded the purpose of extra funds provided to health boards in two separate payments totalling £200 million.

The Welsh Government indicated that the funding was not a "bail out" for health boards who were struggling with a combined deficit of £212 million, but the Committee concluded that the in-year payments helped to reinforce poor financial planning in the Welsh NHS.

Labour AM says Ann Clwyd is denigrating Welsh NHS

Ann Clwyd's latest criticisms of the Welsh NHS for sometimes giving poor care to patients provoked an angry response from one Labour backbencher in the Senedd.

Lynne Neagle AM said such cases, which included the treatment of Ms Clwyd's husband who died in hospital in Cardiff, did not give the Cynon Valley MP "the right to denigrate the entire Welsh NHS".

Ann Clwyd 'questions' future devolution because of NHS concerns in Wales

Labour MP Ann Clwyd says she's still receiving letters of concern from patients in Wales who've had bad experiences in Welsh hospitals. The Cynon Valley MP led an inquiry for the UK Government into the handling of complaints in the English NHS.

Speaking in a House of Commons debate she said Welsh health chiefs also need to learn lessons from the Francis review into failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust. And she said concerns about the NHS in Wales calls into question the prospect of giving the Welsh Government any further powers.

Sort out English NHS failings before criticising Wales Labour tells Health Secretary

Labour's Shadow Health Secretary says the UK Government she 'spend more time' sorting out problems in the NHS in England and less 'pointing the finger at Wales.' Andy Burnham was responding to criticism of the Welsh NHS during a debate on a review into failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS trust.

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Current hospital deaths data 'too hard to find and use'

An expert group has called for the Welsh Government to work closely with health boards to implement a new system for recording death rates in hospitals.

The Transparency Taskforce found that current methods cannot be used to compare the quality of care between different healthcare systems.

The taskforce report recognises that the NHS in Wales has already taken significant steps to become more transparent, such as the introduction of the My Local Health Service website, which offers clear and easy-to-understand data about the Welsh NHS.

However, it is clear that some of the information currently available is too technical, and too hard to find and use.

To be useful in identifying what is really happening, mortality figures need to be monitored and published at a number of levels within a single health service. No one way of measuring mortality gives a clear picture of the overall position within a hospital or the whole system.

We therefore suggest that the Welsh Government works closely with health boards to implement a new system relating to Welsh hospitals only, to be implemented by this autumn.

– Dr Chris Jones, Deputy Chief Medical Officer

'Welsh approach' needed for hospital deaths data

A new 'Welsh approach' to the publication of death rates in hospitals is needed, an expert group has recommended.

The Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, asked a team of senior clinicians, information specialists and patient representatives to examine whether the continued use of current mortality indicators covering Wales and England was clinically meaningful.

The team, led by Dr Chris Jones, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, has concluded that risk adjusted hospital mortality rates (RAMI) cannot be used to compare the quality of care between different healthcare systems.

The Transparency Taskforce findings, published today, also call for more clinical data to be made easily available to patients in Wales at hospital and even specialty level.

The report recommends that mortality measures are treated with caution, and should always be published and considered alongside more direct measures of service quality, such as patient feedback and untoward incidents.

Poor ratings for Welsh Government's performance

The latest Wales Barometer poll asked people if they thought the Welsh Government is doing a good or bad job in three of the main policy areas for which it has responsibility. The figures show that there is widespread disappointment with its performance.

  • Is the Welsh Government doing a good or bad job with the NHS?
  • Good 25%
  • Bad 43%
  • Neither/Don't know 32%
  • Is the Welsh Government doing a good or bad job with schools?
  • Good 24%
  • Bad 39%
  • Neither/DK 37%
  • Is the Welsh Government doing a good or bad job with the economy?
  • Good 25%
  • Bad 31%
  • Neither/DK 44%

The performance of the Welsh Government has been heavily criticised by Labour’s opponents. To see whether such criticisms have had much resonance with the public we asked respondents to evaluate the Welsh Government’s record since the last Assembly election in 2011 in three key policy areas. The results will not make pleasant reading for Carwyn Jones and his team.

– Professor Roger Scully, Wales Governance Centre

Since the 2011 Assembly election, Labour has governed alone after winning exactly half the seats in the Senedd. Labour supporters were somewhat more positive about government performance.

  • Is the Welsh Government doing a good or bad job with the NHS?
  • Good 37%
  • Bad 31%
  • Neither/Don't know 31%
  • Is the Welsh Government doing a good or bad job with schools?
  • Good 36%
  • Bad 26%
  • Neither/DK 39%
  • Is the Welsh Government doing a good or bad job with the economy?
  • Good 41%
  • Bad 20%
  • Neither/DK 39%

What will surely frustrate Labour’s opponents in Wales is the apparent lack of connection between voters’ assessments of Labour’s record in government in Wales and their current voting intentions. Not many people seem to think that Labour have done a good job in government in Wales, yet many Welsh people still intend to vote Labour.

– Professor Roger Scully, Wales Governance Centre
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