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Health Minister responds to Nuffield Trust report

Responding to the Nuffield Trust report, Health Minister Mark Drakeford said the NHS is facing a number of challenges:

The report also recognises further potential for additional long-term savings, which the NHS can make if it continues to reform and reshape services.

The Finance Minister and I will now work together over the summer to determine what more we can do to support new models of service delivery that strengthen the care and support provided in local communities, and respond to the challenges identified in this report”

– Mark Drakeford AM, Health Minister

NHS would have to make improvements at 'record rate'

The Nuffield Trust report says if the NHS does not receive additional funding, it would have to improve productivity at a record rate and sustain it for a period of time in order to close the financial gap of £2.5bn by 2025/26.

This would have to be at a rate not seen in the history of the NHS or other countries' health systems.

Adam Roberts, lead author and Senior Analyst at the Nuffield Trust said:

“Our analysis reveals, for the first time, the scale of the task ahead regarding the Welsh NHS’s finances.

"Money for the service is already tight – NHS funding is likely to be 3.6% lower in real terms at the end of the next financial year than it was in 2010/11 – but the big unknown is what will happen after the 2015 spending review.

The pressures facing the NHS in Wales outlined in the report include:

  • Population growth
  • Longer life expectancy
  • Rising number of prescriptions
  • Staff wages

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Welsh NHS could face funding gap of £2.5bn by 2025/26

Pressures on the NHS in Wales mean it could face a funding gap of £2.5bn by 2025/26, according to a report by the Nuffield Trust think tank.

The report said pressure will be greater in areas with the fastest growth in people over the age of 65

The research suggests the shortfall - the result of 'rising costs' and 'tight' public finances - would occur if funding only rises in line with inflation after 2015/16.

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

Decision to invite Ann Clwyd welcomed

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have welcomed today's decision to ask Ann Clwyd to give evidence to the Assembly health committee. Two previous attempts to invite her had been blocked by Labour AMs.

The Cynon Valley MP received hundreds of letters about poor treatment in Welsh hospitals during her review of conditions in the English NHS.

She was invited to carry out the review in England after she complained about how her late husband was treated before his death at the University Hospital in Cardiff.

It is absolutely right that Ann Clwyd MP is to be invited to give evidence to the Assembly’s Health Committee. While she may have conducted a review into the English NHS, she still received a large amount of information from Welsh patients.

It’s astonishing that Labour members continuously tried to block Ann Clwyd from giving evidence. The fact that she is an MP is completely irrelevant. The truth is they are afraid they won’t like what she has to say. Ann’s voice deserves to be heard

– Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams AM
  1. Nick Powell

Ann Clwyd 'invited' to Assembly health committee

Plaid Cymru sources say the Assembly health committee has finally agreed to invite Ann Clwyd MP to give evidence about the treatment of patients in Welsh hospitals. The Cynon Valley MP complained about the conditions endured by her late husband before he died at the University Hospital in Cardiff.

She subsequently carried out a review of hospitals in England for the UK Government but previous attempts by opposition parties to invite Ms Clwyd to give evidence in Cardiff Bay were blocked by Labour AMs. They argued it was constitutionally inappropriate to invite a backbench MP from Westminster.

It's understood that today a proposal from Plaid Cymru's health spokesperson, Elin Jones, that Ann Clwyd is asked to evidence as part of a wider review of patients' complaints on July 10, was accepted at a private meeting of the committee.

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Minister blames bad weather for ambulance delays

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.

It ill-behoves us, sitting here in the comfort of the National Assembly, to take no account of the conditions which people delivering those services faced during February.

– Health Minister Mark Drakeford AM

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 eight minute target does nothing to help outcomes for the patients... [but] ...as we have moved out of February and into March the performance has improved.

– Health Minister Mark Drakeford AM

Judge NHS by effect of treatment says minister

The Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, has said that the new targets in the NHS will measure the real difference that effective treatment makes to patients and will be more meaningful than simple time-based targets, such as the maximum eight minute wait for an emergency ambulance.

I want us to judge the success of our services by measuring things which make a difference to patients and the effectiveness of the treatment they receive. This development work will make sure that what we measure is more meaningful in terms of clinical benefit and outcomes for patients, rather than on the basis of time alone.

The eight minute ambulance target is in many ways an arbitrary figure rather than being based on patient or clinical evidence. We will be sharing the results of the development work widely and will be holding public discussions on the findings before any decisions about future measures.

– Health Minister Mark Drakeford AM

Between April 2014 and March 2015, the new targets will run alongside existing ones. They will cover emergency treatment, with new measures for cancer treatment and planned care to be introduced later this year.

We will be working with clinicians to develop measures of urgent and emergency care which make sense to people using these services and which give a clearer sense of quality of care. Like other measures of safety and quality in Wales, we will make these transparently available to allow people to see easily how their local health service is doing.

– Dr Grant Robinson

Dr Robinson is the Welsh Government's clinical lead for improvement in unscheduled care.

Health targets will focus on patients' treatment

The Welsh NHS is to look at new ways of measuring whether patients get timely and effective treatment, which it's claimed can be more important than simple targets such as an ambulance responding within eight minutes or the wait in A&E lasting no more than four hours.

During a year long trial, starting next month, the new targets will be set in addition to the existing ones before a review decides which are needed in future. Officials in charge of the trial have highlighted three key measures.

  • The time before a patient who's suffered a heart attack caused by blood clots receives clot-busting drugs. The target will be one hour after the 999 call.
  • The time before a stroke patient has undergone the "stroke care bundle" series of tests and been given a scan. The trial will help to refine what the target should be. Research in London suggests that a scan within four hours is needed.
  • How soon a patient with a broken hip is given effective pain relief. Again the trial will be used to decide what the target should be.

Diagnosis and initial treatment is frequently done by paramedics. If the patient then needs to go to hospital, it's hoped to by-pass A&E more often in future and go straight to the appropriate specialist medical team. One benefit would be fewer ambulances queuing outside casualty departments.

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