Letter from Wales:What is happening to the Welsh NHS? Pub Uncut 21.2.14

“But it’s not normal, it’s Wales!”

Do excuse my take on a few words from Atul Hatwal, editor of Uncut, in his column 9.1.14. The fact remains however, that nothing at all is “normal” in Wales, indeed the principality makes Westminster look as normal as a packet Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts and a ’99 on Southend pier.

Allow me to reiterate the statistics broadcast by BBC Wales in respect of the Welsh NHS:
» 23,500 patients waiting more than 8 weeks for diagnostic treatment, up from 8000 two years ago.
» The number of people waiting more than 9 months for hospital treatment has reached its highest level in two years.
» More than 32% of patients in Wales wait more than 8 weeks for an ultra sound scan compared with 0.1% in England.
» Death rates now coming into question and the Welsh government is refusing to carry out an investigation.

Mark Drakeford, health minister and master of denial, is blaming all of those nasty people in Westminster again.

This is what happens when you have professors of social policy (from the Cardiff university crachach madrassa of course) running health services in Wales.

Cathy O’Sullivan, acting chair of the board of Community Health Councils in Wales said on Radio Wales recently about the Welsh NHS, ”It needs a very fundamental shake, around how patients are treated in the 21st Century.”

And here’s the problem.

Since devolution (which Tony Blair eventually regretted) Wales, and its obsession with a non-sensical separatist identity and sorry dreams of ancient grandeur, has spiralled further and further downwards. In health, in economics and in education. It has become more and more of a backwater and less and less attractive to private investment, indeed the only people that come to Wales to settle are old ‘uns selling up expensive properties in England and buying cheap in Wales to retire to.

The Welsh government excuse the above issues with the fact that Wales has more ageing people per capita than England. Well, this is hardly surprising; no youngster with any ambition and flair is going to hang around the principality when all he or she can hope for is a desk job in the public sector. No wonder Welsh students are taking off in droves to English universities (and taking taxpayers’ money with them!).

Wales in the 21st Century?

Carwyn and his Team Druid have done nothing but turn the Senate in Cardiff bay into a Dr Who Tardis that is incapable of ever travelling into the future. And for a lesson in abject complacency and mind-blowing arrogance note the following observations on the Welsh NHS by the First Minister on BBC’s Sunday Politics 19.1.14:

“I don’t buy this idea that somehow the NHS in Wales is failing.

I don’t think that’s correct and the vast majority of people in Wales we know have a good experience from the NHS.”

So then, all the above, including the tragic deaths of people due to the unavailability of a decent ambulance service have simply failed to bleep on Carwyn’s radar.

To use common parlance: What planet is the gentleman living on?

On a personal note and particularly since interviewing a number of Welsh Assembly politicians I cannot help but feel that there is a view in Westminster of “give ‘em enough rope.”

Ed really should take notice of what is going on in Wales. Labour heartlands? I think not. Welsh Labour is hanging on by the skin of its teeth. It is in dire need of new blood, new thinking and lashes of innovative intellect and intelligence. It is older than ‘old’ Labour, it is worn out and frankly it has become more embarrassing than John Major tucking his shirt into his pants (actually, I’m convinced Mark Drakeford the Welsh government’s health minister does exactly the same thing!).

What can be done?

98 years of any political party is long enough. Every party needs a period of renewal, change and reflection. Welsh Labour needs a new team, a team that will look forward not backward, a team that will force Wales to flourish and prosper in a modern 21st Century.

NB Since writing this column Plaid Cymru have announced that they will bribe young doctors to come and work in the Welsh NHS – there’s a recruitment crisis here in Wales, I can’t imagine why? They will pay off these young doctors’ student loans with taxpayers’ money, generated they say, from a tax on fizzy drinks. In other words they’re going to Tango ‘em once and for all!

Oh and they will also ‘guarantee’ places at medical school for Welsh speakers.

And Westminster is supposed to be abnormal?

God help Wales.


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