For over a decade the Welsh Government has been running the NHS in Wales. Control of the NHS should have given the Welsh Government the ability to localise services and pursue policies that Welsh taxpayers really want. As a result policies such as free prescriptions have been introduced in an attempt to win votes and are often cited as a beacon of success of the Welsh Government.
However for all the potential positives from devolution and the localisation of services, these have been undermined leading to a lost generation of advances in health care. The NHS has failed to curtail lavish and wasteful spending which has put extra pressure on frontline services. We still hear of swollen managerial boards, armies of equality managers and even senior environmental officers all of whom make no real or needed contribution to the frontline care.
This week we have seen that calls made to the Welsh Ambulance service involving life-threatening situations were responded to within targets only 53 per cent of the time. During Welsh Questions at which, time and again the failings of the current Welsh Government are cited, it was highlighted that since 2008 the Welsh Government has failed to meet waiting times for suspected urgent cancer referrals and that there is in fact no cancer drugs fund in Wales.
But what is most upsetting about this lost opportunity is the fact that the Welsh Government is more interested in changing indicators (some may call that moving the goal posts) rather than examining past failings and learning from them. The devolution project in Cardiff Bay truly is in denial, more interested in blaming everyone else other than itself for failings or ignoring the true concerns of those who use the service. This couldn’t be more obvious than in the case of Ann Clwyd MP and her husband Mr Owen Roberts, sadly Mr Roberts passed away after having to wait for 27 hours on a hospital trolley, being treated as Ms Clwyd describes like a battery hen.
It is now time for the Welsh Government to focus the health budget on front-line services and the only way to do that is to cut waste on NHS non-jobs.