NHS 75: 'We either pay more or reduce the services we offer' for NHS to survive says Health Minister

Wales' Health Minister has warned the public may need to pay more to use the NHS or reduce the services that we offer in order for it to survive.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan spoke to ITV Cymru Wales on the 75th anniversary of the NHS.

When asked what needs to happen in order for the NHS to continue running for another 75 years, Ms Morgan said: "We are going to have to either pay more or reduce the services that we offer.

"So I think that is something that we're going to have to take very seriously and have a conversation with the public about - unless they come with us on the journey to improving their own physical health."

It comes as doctors in Mountain Ash, Cynon Valley, told ITV Cymru Wales that they see first hand the effect of people living in disadvantaged areas.

The Royal College of General Practitioners in Wales believes there is a strong need to address inequalities in health.

In response, Ms Morgan said: "It's challenging, thee's no question about the fact it's challenging and what we've got is a huge, huge demand in particular post-pandemic and we've got an ageing population.

'If it carries on as it is, the demand will overwhelm us'

"We've got the first of the baby boomers coming through who didn't necessarily as a whole look after themselves and we've got 60% of the population of Wales overweight or obese - that has a knock on impact in terms of health, and so we do need to have an honest conversation with the public in Wales about what more can you do to help yourselves in order to help the NHS? Because if it carries on as it is, the demand will overwhelm us."

She added: "It's reached a stage where I think people understand that the pressures are immense. There are very long waiting lists in Wales that again we're trying to address. We've got to get in that prevention space, that is something we're trying to do.

"We're trying to get support closer to the people if we can, so looking after them in their communities to avoid them from having to access a hospital in the first place."

Your questions to the Health Minister

Speaking on behalf of Diverse Cymru, Deputy CEO Zoe King asked Ms Morgan what she is doing to ensure people can access mental health services across Wales - including people from minority ethnic communities.

Zoe King asked the Health Minister what she is doing to ensure people from ethnic minority communities can access mental health services.

Ms Morgan responded: "We're funding Diverse Cymru to help us precisely to address that issue, so we now have a 111 press 2 system that's been rolled out across Wales to support people in relation to mental health.

"All of the people working on that system have had training to make sure that they're culturally aware and to make sure that they understand that they need to be sensitive to the different needs of our communities."

Andrew Oliver is a farmer from Gower who has been waiting for two hip replacements.

Explaining how he is around 62 weeks into a possible 160 week wait to see a consultant and that because he is a farmer, he cannot work until he is treated, Mr Oliver asked the Health Minister if she thinks his situation is acceptable.

Andrew Oliver is waiting for two hip replacements.

Ms Morgan replied: "It's not acceptable and that's why we're doing something to reform that particular system.

"What we've got is a situation which, during the pandemic, in particular orthopaedic care was suspended because we had to just deal with Covid."

She added: "What I do know is anything involving orthopaedic surgery means that people are very often waiting in pin so we are trying to give them support while they're waiting but what we are doing is building new facilities to get that support through faster."