Wales must be better prepared for winter months – Kirsty Williams

2010 Hydref 12 1:09 PM

Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, will tomorrow call on the Labour-Plaid government to ensure that the people of Wales are better protected and cared for during the coming winter months.

Last winter saw chaos on the roads of Wales with schools being closed for prolonged periods and a huge increase in excess winter deaths, an increase of 74% compared to the year before.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats will use their opposition day debate to calls on the Welsh government to develop an action plan to reduce excess winter deaths, work with Local Health Boards (LHBs) to increase capacity for the predicted increase in slips and falls, ensure that at risk groups receive the flu vaccine, improve calculation for Cold Winter Payments and work with local authorities to improve access to road grit.

Last week, Wales' Chief Medical Officer urged older people and those with long-term illness to get vaccinated and ensure their homes are as energy efficient as possible. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling for a comprehensive action plan to deal with not just health associated issues but all associated problems.

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:

"It seems that every winter, Wales in not prepared for the cold months, the ice and snow. We know that winter is coming and we should be better prepared but every year the number of unnecessary winter deaths is still high, roads are closed and schools are disrupted.

"Last week, Wales' Chief Medical Officer urged older people and those with long-term illnesses to get vaccinated before the weather turns as the cold weather exacerbates respiratory problems. While I fully support and back the comments made by the CMO, all aspects of life in Wales must be ready to deal with the coming months.

"Last winter was exceptionally cold, however we do not want to see a repeat of the chaos on our roads and the disruption to our economy this winter. There must be an action plan to ensure that life on our roads, in our schools and in our hospitals continues with as little disruption as possible.

"The Labour-Plaid government must come up with a comprehensive winter action plan to ensure that winter can be a season to be enjoyed, not feared."

Notes to Editors:

Third Assembly Plenary Meeting, Wednesday 13th October 2010

Welsh Liberal Democrats Debate (60 mins)

NDM4554 Peter Black (South Wales West)

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales:

1. Notes that the Winter months have an adverse impact on the health and well-being of the people of Wales.

2. Calls on the Welsh Government to address this by:

a) Developing an Action Plan to reduce excess winter deaths in 2010/11;

b) Working with LHBs to increase capacity for the predicted increase in slips and falls;

c) Putting a comprehensive plan in place to ensure that at risk groups receive the flu vaccine;

d) Engaging with the UK Government to improve calculations for Cold Weather Payments by making use of more appropriate weather stations;

e) Working with local authorities to improve access to road grit, following problems during the 2009/10 Winter period; and

f) Working with head teachers and local authorities ensure better information for parents regarding school closures due to adverse weather conditions.

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