Letter from Wales: 57% of entire Welsh budget to be swiped by Welsh NHS by 2025-5. Column pub. Labour Uncut 4.10.13

At least according to a report written by Mark Jeffs of the Wales Audit Office.

He goes on, “Until we have a more efficient Welsh Government, which takes more seriously its role as a guardian of the public purse, speculation about future levels of public spending may continue.”

In other words, while the Welsh government continues to drag its knuckles across the floor of the Welsh Senate a right royal crisis is about to hit public services here in Wales. Black bag time again perhaps, except this time it won’t be the unions to blame.

And what was Carwyn saying last week at the Labour conference? Just to remind you, “Wales is a living, breathing example of what can be achieved in power.” It’s back up to Asda’s for another crate of Johnie Walker fast, I’m thinking.

The fact that the Welsh NHS is the subject of such public derision here in Wales, may well have something to do with the fact that we have academics of Welsh history running Health Boards, £655,000 a year on a ‘Cooking Bus’ ie a lorry filled to the brim with high tech cooking utensils intent on teaching Welsh pupils, parents and teachers how to cook, £9m on giving up the fags, exercise classes and mental health first aid (?) but here’s the rub, none of it has had any effect. It’s still corned beef pasties, Welsh faggots peas and chips all the way back from the pub – not to mention a 10 pack of Woodbines to help the journey along!

Even Dr Patricia Riorden, head honcho for Public Health Wales has had to admit and I quote (27.9.13 News Wales) “that we need to look forward to a whole transformational change.” ‘Transformational?’ You have blown millions of taxpayers’ money on causes that would shock a five year old. For God’s sake go! And take team druid with you!

If the above doesn’t stretch your political imaginations try the more serious business of the Public Accounts Committee (Welsh Assembly) for 18th July 2013. It makes interesting if not shocking reading.

The Committee was concerned with the catastrophic, if not fatal, failures in governance at the Betsi Cadwaladr university local health board resulting in the eventual resignation of its chairman one professor Mervyn Jones – I must point out here that professor Jones is a Welsh history academic, former vice chancellor of Bangor university and broadcaster for the Welsh language S4C television channel. Not quite a background in health care or hard-core commercial endeavour is it? Shocking, I think you will agree, but then the Welsh speaking Crachach are a versatile lot if nothing else, and to quote the “father of the Anglo-Welsh’ one,” Caradoc Evans, “prejudice, philistinism and sexual guilt” are the foundations of the “Welsh way of life” so what can one say? If nothing else one has to hand it to them, they really do add a new dimension to the word “ubiquitous”, they’ll be taking the shine off David Beckham’s boots next.

Anyway, the Committee concentrated on the thorough melt down in financial management and the extraordinary omission of Welsh Labour’s scrutiny procedures in respect of outcomes and waiting times etc, particularly in respect of cancer care e.g. follow-up appointments not being monitored or tracked, targets not being met and the Besti Cahdwaladr having the highest death rates in Wales.

(Please note here that a request for data in respect of follow-up appointments for cancer treatment in Wales over the last 12 months from the Welsh government’s own press office last week, received the following reply, “…it is not part of routine data collection for the Welsh government.” Nothing like due diligence or god forbid the odd pair of watchful eyes, is there?)

36 patients dying from C-Difficile over the past year, failures to comply with safety alerts (this applies to all 7 Welsh LHB’s), GP’s starting to consider whether they should be advising private medical treatment, and Welsh patients moving to England for life saving cancer drugs because Carwyn and his team of merry men won’t go along with dastardly Westminster health policies.

It is plain obscene.

Professor Jones was of the view that all this turmoil on his watch was down to 2 hour drives (good job he doesn’t live in London), cultural differences between Wales, Liverpool and Manchester and the unique health issues of the local farming community. So one in five people in Wales waiting more than 36 weeks to access life-saving treatment is down to a long commute, Liverpudlians and Mancunians making too many demands and sheep!

It was also, as usual, all Westminster’s fault.

According to David Sissling director general, health and social services, Welsh government, no evaluations for value for money were being carried out by the board either. No wonder then that said board and professor Jones in particular (but then he might have been concentrating on a book about the Welsh diaspora to Patagonia at the time, so fair play) managed to oversee a state of break- even finances to a projected deficit of 29 million?

Mr Sissling was also of the view that the reason why the majority of operations were postponed or delayed was because of unscheduled care, not because of financial reasons. You try and work this one out because I can’t, apart from concluding that the board were quite obviously incapable of managing the lemon sherbert supplies for a school tuck shop let alone anything else.

And what has been the first minister’s reaction to all this?

He has denied the Betsi Cadwaladr “is an admission of failure,” and his side-kick, the social policy academic now Welsh government health minister Mark Drakeford (I do wish he would learn to knot a tie properly, a Gordon Brown he is definitely not), is “seriously proud of the health service in Wales.”

Such monumental stupidity and arrogance would be hung, drawn and slaughtered in the real world of Westminster politics. So much for devolution, the Welsh “government” can’t even look after its own and as far as I know, this is certainly not what Labour is all about.

PS The appointment of former Plaid Cymru (Welsh home rule army) leader Ieuan Wyn Jones as head of the planned Menai science park on Anglesey has been referred to the Wales Audit Office, as reported on Wales Eye. WAO officials are to examine allegations that Mr Jones is not suitably qualified and that he was also the finance spokesman for Plaid at the time the £10m deal was negotiated with Welsh Labour.

Wales Eye also informs us that outside bodies could be called in to investigate further.

Another Professor Jones perhaps? But look on the bright side, I have no doubt that the two gentlemen can exchange pyramids of erudition on Owen Glyndower’s cod-piece if nothing else!

Yes I know, the epic genius of a Milton or Homer couldn’t make this lot up.

Julian Ruck is an author, columnist and Freedom of Information campaigner. He also makes contributions to both Welsh and national broadcasting and media

Tags: Carwyn Jones, Julian Ruck, Letter from Wales, Wales Audit Office, Welsh NHS


2 thoughts on “Letter from Wales: 57% of entire Welsh budget to be swiped by Welsh NHS by 2025-5. Column pub. Labour Uncut 4.10.13

    • Dear John,

      You are not the only one believe me. The Welsh people have forgotten their political history, one of spirit,courage, determination and on times out and out militancy.

      Apathy and diffidence now surge through the valleys and towns of Wales. The ‘stand up and be counted’ mantra of days gone by has been replaced by a simpering acceptance of unfettered Carwynite fatuity.

      Until the Welsh rediscover who they are, Wales will continue to die.

      All the best,


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