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LHBs must publish all winter plans – Kirsty Williams

2013 Hydref 22 11:53 AM

Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, is calling on the Welsh Labour Government to publish all of the local health boards' winter preparation plans following the postponement of elective orthopaedic surgery in Hywel Dda LHB.

The Health Minister announced in July that he had asked all LHBs to prepare plans for dealing with winter pressures. Carwyn Jones said last week during FMQs that planning for winter pressures was "well advanced" and that "formal winter plans have been received"

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are concerned that the Welsh NHS will not be able to cope with the added pressures of the winter and that patients will suffer longer waiting times for treatment and surgery.

The chief executive of NHS Wales confirmed during a Health Committee session in July that due to increased winter pressures 2,600 operations were postponed last year.

During FMQs last week, the First Minister said that he "would not expect any authority to delay operations" to reach budget targets and that he "would not expect to see such situation happening in the future".

Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:

"The people of Wales have a right to know what is going to happen to their health services over the winter and that is why I am calling on the Welsh Labour Government to publish the plans.

"Patients in Hywel Dda LHB found out yesterday that orthopaedic operations were being cancelled when union representatives announced the changes to the media. This is not the way a health service should be run. On top of already overly long waiting lists, adding uncertainty and confusion to the worry of patients is downright shameful.

"Winter shouldn't come as a surprise to local health boards or Welsh Labour Government as it comes around every year.

"Carwyn Jones and the Welsh Labour Government seem to be losing their control over the NHS and how they are dealing with winter pressures. Last year, we know that 2,600 operations were postponed to save money for the LHBs. Just last week, the First Minister said that he would not expect any authority to delay operations for budgetary reasons but yet we see Hywel Dda LHB postponing operations for up to six months to save money.

"We need to know what the LHBs of Wales are planning to do over the winter. It is not right that people in Wales are kept in the dark. The Welsh Labour Government likes to pride itself on being open and transparent. This is the time to prove that."