Posted: Fri 23rd Feb 2024

A view from Sam Rowlands – Welsh Conservative North Wales Member of the Senedd for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Friday, Feb 23rd, 2024 has invited the four North Wales Members of the Senedd to write a monthly column with updates on their work. You can find their updates – along with contributions from the Wrexham and Clwyd South MPs and MSs – here. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌‌‌​‍‌​‌​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌‌‌‌​‍‌​​​​‌‌​‍‌​‌​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​‌‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​​‌‌​‍‌​‌‌‌‌‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​‌‌‌‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌​​‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​ ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌‌‌​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​​‌‌​‌‍‌​​‌‌‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌​​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌‌​​‌‌​‌‍‌‌​​‌‌​​ ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌‌‌​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​​‌‌​‌‍‌​​‌‌‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌​​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌‌​​‌‌​‌‍‌‌​​‌‌​​

In this month’s column, Welsh Conservative Member of the Senedd Sam Rowlands writes:

It’s been almost a year since the health board for North Wales, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, was placed in special measures.

The exact date was 27th February 2023. Of course, BCUHB has been in and out of special measure since the summer of 2015.

Current Welsh Labour leadership contender Vaughan Gething, then Health Minister, decided to bring Betsi out of special measures in November 2020 – six months before the Welsh Parliament elections.

Unsurprisingly, the Health Board had to go back into special measures later on. Neither Gething, or his successor, Baroness Eluned Morgan, have been able to get a grip on the health service.

The latest chapter in this sorry tale is a newly-released report from Audit Wales on Betsi.

There have been minor improvements. The stability of the board has improved, for example.

However, as the report demonstrates, there is still much, much more that has to be done in order to give the people of Wrexham and North Wales the health service that we deserve.

The report talks of “fundamental challenges” that still face the Health Board.

There are many references to the need for “substantive appointments”, “a cohesive and unified board” and ongoing “personnel issues”.

This points to significant issues within the management structure that still haven’t been fully fixed.

Outcomes are still woeful. Betsi’s emergency department performance is the worst in Wales, with data from December 2023 showing just 83.2% of patients were seen within the 12 hour waiting time target.

There is no doubt that staff in hospitals across North Wales are working hard. Unfortunately, they are working in an environment where they have been failed by the top-down management, all the way from Ministers in Cardiff Bay to the Health Board.

Welsh Conservatives are holding a debate in the Senedd this week, to draw attention to the issues at Betsi and to call for swift action from the Labour-run Welsh Government in Cardiff Bay.

A good start would be the Cardiff Labour Government actually fully funding the NHS in Wales. According to the Auditor General, the Welsh Government gets £1.20 to spend on health for every £1 spent in England. That is thanks to funding from the UK Conservative Government.

However, Labour choose not to spend that full £1.20 on the health service, instead preferring vanity projects like stuffing the Welsh Parliament with 36 more unneeded and unnecessary politicians.

Thanks to Labour’s underfunding, it is the people who suffer. Two years ago, the Welsh Government set a target that no one should wait 8 weeks or more for a diagnostic test, which is key to saving lives. As of November 2023, a staggering 40% of waits were longer than 8 weeks, which equates to 47,231 people.

I am afraid that they just don’t get it, and I worry that we won’t see the long-lasting change that we really need. I hope I am wrong on that because this situation has been allowed to carry on for far too long.

I mentioned Vaughan Gething earlier, who is running to be Welsh Labour leader and First Minister.

He is running against Jeremy Miles, who is currently Education Minister and responsible for Wales having the worst PISA education scores in the entire United Kingdom.

Labour held a leaders debate in Mold, and there wasn’t a single question about the NHS! People in North Wales are suffering thanks to mismanagement of the health service, and the Cardiff-centric Labour just don’t care.

Labour claim to be the party of the NHS, but in a leadership debate they are too scared to be questioned about it. That sums up Labour in 2024.

As ever, if you have any queries or issues, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can contact me by emailing [email protected] or calling on 0300 200 7267.

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