An all-party and non-party Commission must be created to ensure Wales has an NHS that is clinically and financially sustainable, the Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats has said.
Kirsty Williams AM made the call in a debate in the Welsh Assembly today in response to calls for a 'Keogh-style' inquiry, saying that an inquiry alone was not enough to deal with the deep-rooted problems and challenges facing the Welsh NHS.
The Labour Health Minister said in the debate that the Welsh Lib Dem idea of a Commission was worth considering.
Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:
"The Welsh NHS has been used as a political football by people from all parties. But whatever side of the debate you're on, it's clear that there are significant challenges and pressures in our health services that need to be dealt with.
"We need to go further than an inquiry. The Welsh Government needs to establish a Commission to secure a historic and long-term plan for health and social care in Wales. We need to look at what kind of services we need to meet the needs of our ageing population, where these services should be, how they should be staffed and how it would be funded.
"A Commission with cross-party, professional and patient representatives would be able to work together and deal with the strategic problems facing our NHS in Wales. Involving doctors, nurses and patients from the outset would ensure that the experiences of those using our front-line health services feed into the efforts to reform our NHS.
"Cross-party Commissions have been used for a number of issues, from higher education funding to bringing powers back to Wales. It's clear to me that the future of our NHS in Wales is an issue so pressing that it's bigger than the views of political parties. Let's come together and plan for the future of our health and social care services, so we can create an NHS fit for the people of Wales."
Details on the proposed Commisson
We want the government to establish a cross-party Commission to develop the long term plan for an NHS in Wales that is clinically and financially sustainable. The Commission would look at what kind of services we will need to meet population needs, where the services should be, how it would be staffed and how it would be funded.
It should have an independent chair. It should have representatives of the Welsh political parties, and substantial representation from the healthcare sector, research, and patients themselves.
Its first task should be to detail the challenges facing Wales in supporting a health population for the future. We need to understand the future of healthcare in Wales, in terms of an aging population, a rural population and rising levels of chronic conditions and mental health issues. We will also need to forecast the future impact of technology and new developments on our NHS and ensure we can keep up with the speed of progress. It would produce recommendations regarding what kind of services we must provide to meet population needs, where the services should be, how these services should be staffed, and how these services would be funded.
It should examine examples from the other three NHS systems in Britain, and healthcare systems abroad, in order to understand what works and what doesn't.
It should produce recommendations by the end of the next Assembly term.