Thursday, 12 July 2012 12:24



THE Health Minister, Lesley Griffiths, has been challenged over the fact that wards and minor injury units in North Wales were closed last winter, despite the weather being mild and neighbouring hospitals in England not closing a single bed.


North Wales AM, Mark Isherwood, raised the matter with the Minister in the Assembly Chamber following her Statement this week on ‘The Evidence Underpinning the Case for Reconfiguring the NHS in Wales.’



Speaking in the Chamber he said: “Six years ago, Community Hospitals Acting Nationally Together Cymru was formed by campaigners across Wales fighting to retain their local hospitals after almost identical reconfiguration proposals. Do you, therefore, agree that, contrary to experience then, it would be unacceptable were the Welsh Government to dictate policy from the centre and leave the Health Boards to take the blame?”


He added: “How do you respond to concerns from the Flintshire Over-50s Action Group that wards and minor injuries units were closed last winter due to winter pressures, but, in fact, it was a mild winter with no evidence of infection outbreaks and neighbouring hospitals in England did not close a single bed?


“How do you respond to concern expressed in a letter to your department by the Professor of Psychiatry and other senior staff at the Hergest Unit in Ysbyty Gwynedd in North Wales that, against a shifting culture in healthcare, nowhere more clearly so than in mental health care, there is a risk that the process will become the outcome?


“My final question is how do explain the concerns expressed by a Labour councillor in Flint, that cuts in central funding will have serious ramifications for patients, and that people should not be under any illusions that services are going to be maintained?”


The Health Minister replied: “I will just reiterate the fact that this report confirms what we know - that services cannot remain as they are. We cannot wrap services up in aspic, as the Conservatives would want us to do. We cannot have every service provided in every hospital. We know that we have problems with medical recruitment. We know that, due to the horrendous cuts that we have had from the Member’s Government in London, the money is not available. This report supports that.”


Speaking in a Welsh Conservative Debateon ‘Together for Health – Why change is needed’ in May,Mr Isherwood slammed the proposals and  said the paper uses the same language and makes the same promises as their 2005 ‘Designed  for Life’ paper, which resulted in planned cuts and closures and caused public outcry and protest across Wales


He said at the time: “Once again we see the grotesque sham of Welsh Labour politicians campaigning locally against plans to downgrade local health services and blaming Health Boards for implementing their own Party’s policies.


 “Labour cynically kept its plans to downgrade local health services under wraps until after the Local Elections.”


“The Welsh NHS is facing the deepest cuts of any UK nation. This year’s cut by the Welsh Labour Government is the biggest in the history of the Welsh NHS. Yet this needn’t have been the case.

“The UK Government provided funding for the English NHS to protect its budget in real terms and gave the Welsh Labour Government funding so that it could do the same. It failed to pass this on to our Welsh NHS.”


Promoted by Mark Isherwood AM at National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff, CF99 1NA

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