Monday, 13 September 2010

The National Assembly and Scrutiny of Ministers.

There is increasing concern across Wales about the inefficiencies and waste within NHS Wales, it's seven Health Boards and their multi billion pound budgets. The concern also extends to a perceived lack of accountability of a dictatorial Minister of Health and an inability to scrutinise and challenge decisions of Health Boards on a local level because there are no elected members on the Health Boards.

This leaves the committees of the National Assembly for Wales as the only source of accountability, scrutiny and challenge of the Minister of Health and NHS Wales.

The two committees that would conceivably challenge and scrutinise the work of the Minister and NHS Wales are the Health, Wellbeing and Local Government Committee chaired by Darren Millar AM and this committee has the following remit:
As set out in Standing Order 12, the main function of scrutiny committees is to examine within their remit the expenditure, administration and policy of the government and associated public bodies.

The Committee’s remit covers:

* Health
* Local Government
* Public Service Delivery

The other committee is the Public Accounts Committee, chaired by Jonathan Morgan AM with the remit of:
The Public Accounts Committee ensures that proper and thorough scrutiny is given to Welsh Government expenditure, and that all public bodies in Wales operate to the highest possible standards in the management of their financial affairs. It does this so that the people of Wales can be confident that their money is being spent wisely and well.

The role of the Public Accounts Committee is to examine the implementation of Welsh Government policy and the activities of public bodies. The Committee examines reports prepared by the Auditor General for Wales on the accounts of the Welsh Government and other public bodies, and on the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which resources are employed in the discharge of public functions. The Committee makes specific inquiries into issues of interest or concern arising from these reports. In doing so it may hear evidence from the responsible accounting officers and other civil servants and call for relevant papers. It then reports and makes recommendations on its findings. In conducting its inquiries, the Committee cannot question the merits of any policy objectives of the Welsh Government or other body under review.

The National Assembly’s Standing Order 13 provides full details of the procedures and operation of the Committee.

I can't see anything in the workstream of these two committees to indicate that they have undertaken any scrutiny into waste within NHS Wales despite clearly falling within their remits.

As well as members of the One Wales Government it will be interesting to see how the Con-Dem opposition on these committees will explain their inactivity in this so called scrutiny process.


Jonathan said...

I'd be very interested to see your evidence for the waste that you clearly believe to be endemic in NHS Wales.

Please don't trot out the misquoting of Cardiff & Vale FD Paul Davis, when he attended the committee to give evidence because his comments have been taken so far out of context and twisted to suit long standing political agendas.

My guess is you'll fall back on the usual trite attacks on too many 'fat cat' managers as an example of inefficiency. This, as I'm sure you are aware would be highly disingenuous given that management costs in NHS Wales run at below 4% of the overall budget.

There is money being spent inappropriately in NHS Wales - but in the main this is because it is next to impossible to close inefficient and outmoded hospitals to enable higher quality, more community based services to put in place instead.

This is in large part due to politicians who are more worried about the outcome of the upcoming elections than they are about achieving real transformational change in NHS Wales.

I look forward to your evidence based reply.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

These blogs are based on anecdotal evidence from managers within the Betsi Cadwalader University Health Board. I have met with the Chair of the BCU who said that the Board's hands are tied by a 'no redundancy' dictat by Edwina Hart and the 10 year pay protection is a matter of public record.

A number of AM's have raised issues as at Valleys Mam blog one of whom is Jonathan Morgan, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, you are not one and the same are you, if you are it seems that your colleague, Prof DJE is of the same view as us.