Let’s talk about the NHS in Wales

Andrew RT Davies explains why he’s decided to launch a consultation on the NHS in Wales.

In recent months the Welsh NHS has been the subject of intense media focus – all too often for the wrong reasons.

We regularly hear that waiting time targets have been missed, that ambulance response times are poor and that access to life-prolonging cancer treatments is worse here than for patients in England.

Sir Bruce Keogh, who undertook a comprehensive inquiry into the mid Staffordshire trust in England, has raised his concerns over high mortality rates in Welsh hospitals, whilst senior Labour MP Ann Clwyd has repeatedly backed calls from our party for a Keogh-style inquiry into standards of care in the Welsh NHS.

Here in the Assembly, the group I lead work to raise these concerns and to campaign for improvements to the running of the Welsh NHS. NHS clinicians and support staff work extremely hard and it is they, and in some worrying cases, the patients, who are being let down by the Welsh Labour Government.

As an opposition party we have a duty to hold the Welsh Government to account. We take no pleasure in bad news, but it is surely our job to highlight areas where improvement is needed and can be achieved.

I’m not pretending for a moment that we have all the answers; that requires constructive co-operation with NHS staff, clinicians and other healthcare experts. But it also requires a willingness to listen to patients and their families, to be brave enough to accept that we can and must learn from some of the difficult and distressing experiences that they have faced.

Let’s be clear, we know that there are issues in the NHS – your NHS – but we also know that there are plenty of things that it continues to do brilliantly and the staff deserve immense credit for their dedication. We are proud of the hard work of NHS staff, who do a remarkable job under challenging circumstances.

But Carwyn Jones cannot afford to bury his head in the sand, or to pretend that any criticism of his government is mere politics. The Soviet-like refusal of successive Health Ministers to accept constructive criticism has deeply harmed the reputation of the Welsh Government and by proxy the Welsh NHS. Needlessly.

It’s time to listen, and if Welsh Labour won’t then we will.

Last week I launched a public consultation on the Welsh NHS. We want to hear the experiences of patients who have received healthcare in Wales; ranging from the ease with which you can arrange a GP appointment, to the local availability of NHS dentistry, or the quality of hospital food.

The survey aims to capture your views on a range of issues related to healthcare in Wales and we want to hear the good news as well as the bad; we want you to highlight the areas in which you feel the Welsh NHS performs well, not just the areas in which it could improve. This survey will help us to better understand the type of NHS you expect and want to see taking shape over the next few years.

The Welsh Conservatives know that it’s not good enough to merely assume that we know what the public are thinking; that only leads to ineffective decision-making. This consultation will enable us to identify key areas of concern and address topics that really matter to you. The results will help us to channel our policy development and ensure our future policies are shaped by your opinions and concerns.

As the leader of the largest party of opposition in Wales it is my duty to ensure that your concerns are raised – but also to recognise and champion best practice where it exists.

I hope that you will find time to complete this survey and if you use social media please do share it with friends, family and colleagues. We want everyone to have their say.



Andrew RT Davies is the leader of the Welsh Conservatives.

3 thoughts on “Let’s talk about the NHS in Wales

  1. Hmmm…let down by the Welsh government? You mean by your ‘political opponent’ Welsh Labour I suppose – the instigator/originator of the Nye Bevan NHS and huge investor throughout the decades since. This recent ‘our’ NHS by the Tories seems to be a cynical bandwagon sort of vote catching football calculation.
    The ‘private’ health sector could not ( and doesn’t want to ) survive without the public sector NHS. Pharmaceutical companies would not be able to offload some of their useless drugs (Tamiflu, anyone?) at fantastic mark up and profit. The private healthcare sector would be dismayed if the NHS cash cow were to be disbanded. Mind you the insurance companies would probably love it (as in the US).
    The ‘problems’ with the NHS are self inflicted as with any huge ‘people based’ organisation preyed on by IT companies, laundry providers, medical device companies, BigPharma and last but not least career ‘managers’. Notwithstanding the well publicised failings (of which there are many), the NHS does remarkably well and is admired throughout the wider World. It is not a ‘money’ issue.
    If you really want to improve the ‘health’ of the Nation then aim to help/educate people to look after their own health better – but that is an endemic societal problem not a political vote winner. As a voter (and NHS patient) I don’t want to fill in some ‘monkey survey’ online (more IT!) I want my political representatives of whatever flavour (including Labour) to get off the backs of the NHS and back into their troughs where they belong.

  2. I almost laughed when I read the line – the ease with which you can arrange a GP appointment!! There is no easy way to arrange an appointment with my GP.
    First I have to phone the surgery as soon as the switchboard opens at 8.30am and this usually involves redialling the number for 20 minutes to get through.
    Then I’m told I’m in a queue.
    As I work full time I need to either get an appointment first thing in the morning or as late in the day as possible – I also have to factor in the 45 minute journey between my employer and my surgery. However, the earliest appointments are not until 9.10am. Which means I will start work at least two hours late.
    If I want an appointment in the afternoon on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays I have to make sure I get to the surgery by 4pm as its walk in clinic only. This would mean leaving work at 3pm – two hours early!
    And there’s no guarantee I’d see a doctor straight away – I could be waiting up to two hours for my slot.
    On the days when there are no walk in clinics I have to hope that not all the afternoon appointments are taken up by pre-bookable appointments. And that the last few slots of the day are still available.
    Event then, though I arrive ten minutes before the scheduled appointment I am usually 20 minutes late going in to see the GP.
    To say this system is frustrating is an understatement as it takes no consideration of the needs and obstacles facing people in full time employment.
    I don’t know what the solution is, but surely something can be improved upon.

  3. How is it that in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, when there was less money, the service from GPs was so much better? Could it be political “reforms” of the NHS by the Con/Labs?

    The NHS costs a third of a private system as in the US. So let’s understand we’ve got it on the cheap.

    If you think private is better, a word of warning.

    My aunt, currently living in England, went private for a hearnia operation to avoid the problems that Cameron doesn’t acknowledge exist there. They insisted that she should change her medication in preparation. My cousin stubenly refused, insisting the test results were obviously wrong. She was proved right. Had she not been so bloody-mind (a common family trait) her mother would have died.

    Private healthcare is not a panacea.

    Prevention is not only better than cure, it’s cheaper.

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