Friday, 15 February 2013

No confidence in our health minister

Pressure is mounting on our failing health minister to act decisively to save our NHS. It's clear that the pressure from patients, doctors, nurses and the wider community is starting to tell on Lesley Griffiths over proposed health cuts and downgrading across the North. Her performance on Tuesday night's Week In Week Out documentary was woeful - "rabbit in the headlights" according to one viewer.

The view was echoed at an intriguing public meeting in Flint on Wednesday night. Flint is as Labour as you can get in Wales. Yet Labour Party councillors and activists lined up to attack Lesley Griffiths for not being decisive in rejecting plans to close their community hospital. Councillors were at pains to distance themselves from both the health minister and the local Labour AM Sandy Mewies, who has disgraced herself by refusing to back local campaigners. 
Last week, campaigners for neonatal services took their fight to the health minister's doorstep - more than 80 mums and their supporters attended an angry lobby of Lesley Griffiths' office to try to ensure the planned downgrading of neonatal intensive care across the North does not take place.
No-one answered and the health minister has consistently failed to reassure or engage with the population about this vital issue.
It's clear that we have a serious problem with our health delivery in North Wales. Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board are out of control, closing hospitals even before the consultation has ended and going against clinical advice in moving neonatal intensive care. The Community Health Council, a statutory body meant to represent the community, has been exposed as a toothless and ineffective critic of the health board. The health minister, unlike her predecessor Edwina Hart, has been exposed as a timid politician out of her depth with this crisis.
If she fails to intervene in this deepening crisis, the local campaigns will have to take any means necessary to stop the closure of important local services - one option is a legal challenge, another option is a more direct challenge to the politicians threatening to undermine the NHS in Wales.

"The NHS will last as long as there are folk left to fight for its future" was the great rallying cry of Aneurin Bevan, the Welsh socialist founder of the NHS. There is no doubt where he would be in the fight to retain and improve our NHS - with the people, against the bureaucrats and political elite.

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