North Wales Assembly Member Aled Roberts has welcomed an agreement reached between Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, and Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford on the general terms of reference for a new commission to plan for the future of the Welsh NHS.
“We all know that there are fundamental problems with the health services here in North Wales. We need to take the party politics out of the health service and I hope that the new Commission will come up wi th proposals that can command wide-ranging support," said Mr Roberts, a Lib Dem member.
“Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board struggles from one crisis to another and there appears to be no clear plan. The understandable uproar at recent proposal to downgrade maternity services in Ysbyty Glan Clwyd illustrates a growing lack of trust in managers who run the Board.
"A Health Commission may be able to deliver a clear plan in the long term but in the short term managers who run Betsi Cadwaladr need to come up with more realistic proposals for our maternity services and engage in proper consultation.”
"In September 2014, Kirsty Williams AM made the first calls for an all-party and no-party Commission to ensure Wales has an NHS that is clinically and financially sustainable. The Health Minister agreed to look at Kirsty’s proposals and they have since undertaken discussions on what the terms of reference of the Commission would be."
The Health Minister has made clear that :
- The commission would look at the key issues facing the NHS, in both the short and long term and would be expected to make recommendations about what the health service of the future would look like.
- The commission starts work in April and that it would report either immediately before or after the election in May 2016, depending on cross-party agreement.
- The commission will be chaired by someone independent of the NHS in Wales, but with local links and the knowledge and weight to make practical and credible recommendations.
- Whilst the commission would include representatives from the four major parties in Wales, it would also consist of a range of people with different expertise in the health service.
Kirsty Williams AM is calling on Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives to agree to take part in the Commission. She said:
“I welcome that the Welsh Lib Dem proposals for a commission look set to be taken forward. The Welsh Liberal Democrats remain determined to put patients first, rather than narrow-minded politics. Only then can we start to see real improvement in our NHS.
“The Welsh NHS has been used as a political football by people from all parties. But whatever side of the debate you’re on, it’s clear that there are significant challenges and pressures in our health services that need to be dealt with. That’s why the Welsh Lib Dems have been calling for this commission, and for clinicians and patients to play an integral role in it: so we can work together to plan for the future of our health service in Wales.
“It is essential that all parties in the Assembly take part. I therefore urge both the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru to agree to put forward a representative to sit on this commission.”