Saturday, 16 March 2013

Reshuffle means nothing unless the health cuts stop

It was no surprise to see health minister Lesley Griffiths demoted in Labour's lacklustre reshuffle. We predicted it here last month as it became increasingly clear that the health minister had lost the confidence of her leader. Furthermore, she was incapable of standing up to a health board that has lost the confidence of people in the North as well as the majority of the Community Health Council's lay members.
 The North Wales Health Alliance, comprising of groups from Blaenau Ffestiniog, Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Prestatyn, Rhuthun, Llangollen and Flint as well as the two charities supporting SCBU in Wrecsam and Glan Clwyd, is maintaining its challenge to both the new health minister Mark Drakeford and the health board.
 Firstly, it's mounting a legal challenge against a number of aspects of the health board's proposals. This is being backed by the Daily Post and a cross-party alliance of Assembly Members.
 Secondly, it's calling for an urgent meeting with the new health minister to explain the strength of feeling in the North to these plans.
 Thirdly, it's backing a mass lobby of the Labour Party's spring conference in Llandudno's Venue Cymru on Saturday, March 23 at 2pm.
 That will be a lively protest to remind the politicians who constantly bail out Betsi Cadwaladr financially that they must make a decision that involves more than re-arranging the deckchairs on the HMS Carwyn. It means re-thinking the entire strategy of trying to treat the NHS in Wales as if it was the same as Birmingham. Yes, it's got three million people, but that's where the similarity ends and a metropolitan model does not work in largely rural areas like the North and Mid & West.
 Drakeford is part of the Cardiff Labour inner sanctum - he was widely expected to be elected to the first National Assembly in 1999 but lost out unexpectedly in Cardiff Central. His reward was a job as Rhodri Morgan's Special Adviser in the Assembly, where he had a hand in first the disastrous setting up of 22 Local Health Boards and then the catastrophic centralisation of those LHBs into just seven. Time will tell whether he has a better handle on the NHS than Lesley Griffiths, who will never be forgiven by her constituents and others for breaking promises about local health services.

No comments: