Jones pledges to listen to NHS staff as Cameron leaves them out in the cold

Ed Jacobs looks at Welsh FM Jones' attack on Cameron's NHS changes


As David Cameron prepares today to host a summit on the government’s reforms to the NHS (minus the doctors and nurses supposedly at the very heart of the changes envisaged by Ministers), the Welsh first minister has launched a savage attack on the coalition’s programme of reforms.

Having been at the receiving end of continued criticisms from David Cameron about his government’s handling of the health service, Carwyn Jones this weekend launched a savage attack on the Cameron/Lansley reforms. Accusing Westminster of dismantling the NHS, Jones told the Welsh Labour conference on Saturday:

“Let me state for the avoidance of doubt, that I strongly believe in accessible, high quality, citizen-centred services for all – not choice for the few. Publicly funded, publicly provided and free at the point of delivery.

“We want to see good GP services right across Wales with improved access for working people.

“We are ensuring better care for patients in their communities.

“We want world class centres of excellence for specialised services such as cancer, stroke or heart attack.

“We are putting improving the health of our nation and preventing illness at the heart of what we do.

“We insist that our elderly are treated with dignity within the NHS in Wales.

Unlike the Tories, we will not dismantle the NHS. Unlike the Tories, we will not privatise the NHS.”

Outlining Welsh Labour’s vision for the health service, Jones continued:

“Conference – today we make the pledge to the people of Wales. The forces of marketisation and privatisation of the NHS will stop at the border.

“But let’s be clear – we know we have challenges of our own in Wales when it comes to health.

“If the NHS in Wales is to continue receiving the support of patients and the public alike, then it has to continue changing and improving. And that change must be informed by our NHS professionals – the very people who know how to deliver safe, high quality treatment as close to where people live as possible.

“They are the people making life and death decisions – the ones who ‘carry the can’ professionally when things go awry. It is those people we must listen to when it comes to delivering safe and improved healthcare across Wales.”

His comments come following David Cameron’s attack earlier this month that Welsh Labour had presided over increasing waiting lists and budget cuts to the health service.

Responding at the time, Peter Meredith-Smith, associate director of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales concluded:

There has been steady progress to improve the health service in Wales and there has also been a very different approach to the health service in Wales compared to England – the criticisms levelled in terms of waiting lists are a bit misguided because the emphasis in Wales is different.

It does seem that the key issue in this debate is the difficulty the Westminster government is having with its health reforms.

While the RCN does have concerns about the impact on the service in the current economic climate, the experience of working with the Welsh government is healthy and robust.

See also:

Parties unite in condemning closure of Swansea coastguard stationEd Jacobs, November 23rd 2011

Welsh Labour has big decisions to make in face of budget gridlockEd Jacobs, November 21st 2011

Wales calls for second u-turn on coastguard closures as Salmond hits out at HuhneEd Jacobs, October 20th 2011

Wales to see increase in health spending as Lansley accused of dismantling NHSEd Jacobs, October 5th 2011

Tory Welsh secretary’s speech a demonstration of selective amnesiaEd Jacobs, October 3rd 2011

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