Eluned Morgan doesn't 'necessarily' want to stay as Health Minister when new First Minister in post

  • Health Minister Eluned Morgan on the continuing NHS challenges, her decision not to run for First Minister and why she may not be in post next year

The Health Minister Eluned Morgan has told ITV Wales that she would "not necessarily" want to remain in her post after a new First Minister of Wales is appointed.

In her final interview of the year, as latest figures revealed the number of people waiting for NHS treatment has reached a record high, she described her job as "very, very tough".

"Obviously I know how the system works now, I know where the problems are and I've got an idea on how to fix them," she said.

"But it's not a job you can do for very long I don't think with the pressure that you're under."

Patient pathways waiting longer than a year for their first outpatient appointment increased to around 52,200 in October. Credit: PA Images

There were around 596,000 people on an NHS waiting list in October, according to data published on Thursday.

Around 25,700 patient pathways had been waiting for more than two years - 63.5% lower than the peak and continuing to fall month-on-month.

Ms Morgan said: "I previously tasked health boards with ensuring 97% of those waiting at the end of December 2023 will be waiting less than 104 weeks.

"We were extremely close to achieving that in October with four health boards already having achieved that target."

In October 2022 there were 753,293 patient pathways waiting for treatment, compared to 764,465 in October 2023.

When asked how well she believes she has led the health service through another difficult year, Ms Morgan said: "It has been really, really difficult and part of the problem has been that we've been confronted with these massive inflationary problems.

"The price of medicines has gone up by 11%. We haven't been given any extra money for that, so we have to find that from within the resources we have.

"We've obviously found a 5% increase for people working in the NHS - again, no additional resources for that, so we have to take that from the service itself and that has caused us a problem obviously."

The UK Government has said the Welsh Government is receiving a record settlement of £18 billion per year - the highest since devolution.

But Ms Morgan argued: "Well we've also got a record amount of demand, and also they're not giving us funding for things like railways, for removing tips, so all of those things we're having to find from within our budget that we shouldn't be paying for."

Junior doctors in Wales will follow those in England - who are currently on strike - with industrial action in January. Credit: PA Images

On Monday, junior doctors in Wales announced a three-day walkout in January over the Welsh Government's offer of a 5% pay increase.

The strike will take place from 15 January to 18 January 2024 and could involve more than 3,000 doctors.

The Welsh Government has said it cannot make a new pay offer without additional funding from the UK Government.

But on Wednesday Finance Minister Rebecca Evans told a Senedd committee that she has "made assumptions about public sector pay" demands in her budget.

"It is more challenging this year and you just need to look at our books to realise there is nowhere to go for this money," Ms Morgan said.

"We've had to go around the whole of the cabinet table asking us to help them out in relation to health and they've kindly agreed to do that, but I don't think that we can go any further in asking them to do any more so there is no more money."

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