Letter from Wales: What is happening to the NHS in Wales?

by Julian Ruck

“But it’s not normal, it’s Wales!”

Do excuse my take on a few words from Atul Hatwal, editor of Uncut, in his column 9.1.14. The fact remains however, that nothing at all is “normal” in Wales, indeed the principality makes Westminster look as normal as a packet  Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts and a ’99 on Southend pier.

Allow me to reiterate the statistics broadcast by BBC Wales in respect of the Welsh NHS:

  • 23,500 patients waiting more than 8 weeks for diagnostic treatment, up from 8000 two years ago.
  • The number of people waiting more than 9 months for hospital treatment has reached its highest level in two years.
  • More than 32% of patients in Wales wait more than 8 weeks for an ultra sound scan compared with 0.1% in England.
  • Death rates now coming into question and the Welsh government is refusing to carry out an investigation.

Mark Drakeford, health minister and master of denial, is blaming all of those nasty people in   Westminster again.

This is what happens when you have professors of social policy (from the Cardiff university crachach madrassa of course) running health services in Wales.

Cathy O’Sullivan, acting chair of the board of Community Health Councils in Wales said on Radio Wales recently about the Welsh NHS, ”It needs a very fundamental shake, around how patients are treated in the 21st Century.”

And here’s the problem.

Since devolution (which Tony Blair eventually regretted) Wales, and its obsession with a non-sensical separatist identity and sorry dreams of ancient grandeur, has spiralled further and further downwards. In health, in economics and in education. It has become more and more of a backwater and less and less attractive to private investment, indeed the only people that come to Wales to settle are old ‘uns selling up expensive properties in England and buying cheap in Wales to retire to.

The Welsh government excuse the above issues with the fact that Wales has more ageing people per capita than England. Well, this is hardly surprising; no youngster with any ambition and flair is going to hang around the principality when all he or she can hope for is a desk job in the public sector. No wonder Welsh students are taking off in droves to English universities (and taking taxpayers’ money with them!).

Wales in the 21st Century?

Carwyn and his Team Druid have done nothing but turn the Senate in Cardiff bay into a Dr Who Tardis that is incapable of ever travelling into the future. And for a lesson in abject complacency and mind-blowing arrogance note the following observations on the Welsh NHS by the First Minister on BBC’s Sunday Politics 19.1.14:

“I don’t buy this idea that somehow the NHS in Wales is failing.

I don’t think that’s correct and the vast majority of people in Wales we know  have a good experience from the NHS.”

So then, all the above, including the tragic deaths of people due to the unavailability of a decent ambulance service have simply failed to bleep on Carwyn’s radar.

To use common parlance: What planet is the gentleman living on?

On a personal note and particularly since interviewing a number of Welsh Assembly politicians I cannot help but feel that there is a view in Westminster of “give ‘em enough rope.”

Ed really should take notice of what is going on in Wales. Labour heartlands? I think not. Welsh Labour is hanging on by the skin of its teeth. It is in dire need of new blood, new thinking and lashes of innovative intellect and intelligence. It is older than ‘old’ Labour, it is worn out and frankly it has become more embarrassing than John Major tucking his shirt into his pants (actually, I’m convinced Mark Drakeford the Welsh government’s health minister does exactly the same thing!).

What can be done?

98 years of any political party is long enough. Every party needs a period of renewal, change and reflection. Welsh Labour needs a new team, a team that will look forward not backward, a team that will force Wales to flourish and prosper in a modern 21st Century.

NB Since writing this column Plaid Cymru have announced that they will bribe young doctors to come and work in the Welsh NHS – there’s a recruitment crisis here in Wales, I can’t imagine why? They will pay off these young doctors’ student loans with taxpayers’ money, generated they say, from a tax on fizzy drinks. In other words they’re going to Tango ‘em once and for all!

Oh and they will also ‘guarantee’ places at medical school for Welsh speakers.

And Westminster is supposed to be abnormal?

God help Wales.

Julian Ruck is a novelist, columnist and broadcaster. His latest novel “The Silver Songsters” (Pub. 18.4.14) is to be WH Smith’s book of the month in May.

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11 Responses to “Letter from Wales: What is happening to the NHS in Wales?”

  1. Tafia says:

    This is complete and utter twisted lies from blagger Ruck – as usual.

    Quick couple of points (which Ruck actually knows but doesn’t like saying because it sinks his rubbish).

    The NHS – Wales (like the UK) has an aging population. However it is aging faster in Wales in a large part due to people retiring into Wales whilst at the same time younger people leave. Old people use the NHS more than young and cost it more than young. Likewise cross-border Housing Associations who move their problem tenants out of England into Wales. Problem tenants come with a host of health issues and again cost the NHS more. Likewise to a lesser extent the rehabilitation of substance/alcohol/drug abusers from the major urban conurbations of Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham. Once they are in Wales in HMOs they end up being treated in Wales. (I live in a small town of 8,000 people There is a never ending stream of methadone users at the chemist, each and every one of them resettled here from England with scouse and mancunian accents)

    Welsh Labour. In trouble? You would have to be a moron to think that. There are 40 MPs in Wales. 26 of them are Labour. There are 60 Assembly members, 30 of them are Labour. Councils? Likewise heavily Labour. And bcause of the presence of a fourth party – Plaid Cymru, the holdings of the remaining two – tory and LibDem, are laughable. In fact if their number of seats went up 50% it would still be laughable.

    As for taxing fizzy drinks – perfectly good idea and the big two at Westminster are bith attracted to the idea of doing something along those lines to sweets, cakes & biscuits as well.

    And as Ruck again knows, in parts of Wales Plaid Cymru is rising in support, whilst in other parts it’s Labour. No where are the tories or LibDems in the ascent and nor are they likely to be anytime soon.

    Next election is the Euros – straight fight for first place between Labour and UKIP as UKIP will overhaul the tories by a considerable magin. Tories and Lib Dems collapsing on that front as well.

    It’s very difficult to be completely out of step with every political party in the UK let alone Wales. But Ruck manages it admirably then justifies his position with blatant garbage and deliberate misinformation.

    While Labour Uncut continues to allow this jumped-up failed author, bit part village journalist & charlatan air time, then one thing it is not is a serious political blog.

  2. Tafia says:

    I wrote above :- Likewise to a lesser extent the rehabilitation of substance/alcohol/drug abusers from the major urban conurbations of Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.

    As an afternote, those of you who have seen Benefits Street will know the heroin addict/alcoholic called ‘Fungi’. He has been resetteled for rehabilitation ‘somewhere in Wales’

  3. mike1985 says:

    “each and every one of them resettled here from England”

    Taffia you sound like a fanatical anti-english racist! Although you’re most certainly exactly the same race as the English – which I suppose makes it impossible for you to be racist… but never the less, you still make me ashamed to be Welsh!

  4. Tafia says:

    He is now apparently begging on the streets of Cardiff.

  5. Mr Akira Origami says:

    Welsh Labour is ruining Wales.

    Welsh politics needs something radical.

    Ed should jettison Welsh Labour and field some British Labour Party candidates in the Assembly elections.

    God and Ed help Wales.

  6. Tafia says:

    mike1985 – If Wales NHS uses facilities in England – such as the Neuro unit in Liverpool, it has to transfer funds across to that trust in order to pay for the treatment. Whereas when social services in England transfer their junkies etc to Wales, or NACRO rehouse offenders Wales has to carry the cost and no extra funding is transferred with them. Likewise when problem families are transferred across by Housing Associations – we gain a problem family and lose a unit of social housing.

    Little example – Mark Bridger the killer of April Jones. You saw very little mention in the press that he was actually from England resettled in Wales for a ‘fresh start’ with previous violence convictions.

    England’s resettlement requirements should be to somewhere else in England. Likewise Wales’s should be elsewhere in Wales (which they are). England isn’t allowed to move them to Scotland – the Scots don’t allow it. The Welsh government however has not got the power to stop it from being done here.

    A very brief example – and this is going on all over Wales. http://tinyurl.com/lzpt6oh

  7. According to Health Minister Mark Drakeford the comments made by Sir Bruce Keogh’s and RAMI figures for Welsh hospitals were, I quote, “wicked slander” .
    [ Saturday’s W.M.]
    So what planet is he on I wonder .

  8. dave rodway says:

    Ah, here we go Mike: while the London parties and papers fall over themselves to abuse foreigners nicking ‘our’ money, health, jobs etc., a Welsh person points out that many of the retirees to Wales are English and suddenly they’re ‘racist’.
    Is this website the new go-to link for Godwin’s law?

  9. mike1985 says:

    Dear Dave Rodway,

    Much of the right wing london press is also racist. Happy now?

  10. mike1985 says:

    Dear Dave Rodway,

    To be clear:
    much of the right wing london press is also racist. Happy now?

  11. 30.03.14 – SUNDAY POLITICS SHOW:BBC1

    Wales goes down to the toilet. ..

    It was gobsmacking to hear today on S.P that all the Welsh Health Minister , dim -wit Drakeford could offer Wales failing NHS was the provision of more toilets in Wales !

    I kid you not : watch it for yourselves, Tafia et al.

    It is not only laughable , but very sad that such a person as Drakeford is the best person that a Labour Administration can put forward to represent us, the people of Wales and our health service ,but the likes of an ineffectual buffoon.

    Shame on you Mr.Drakeford while NHS here goes down the toilet .

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