Senedd Bites #16: Hospital Closures Considered, Mean Girls & More

(Title Image: Wales Online)

West Wales hospital closures considered

Hywel Dda health board are actively considering the closure of one or more general hospitals in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire as part of a proposed reorganisation of hospital services in the region.

Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest appears in more closure options than others, but Carmarthen’s Glangwilli Hospital and Llanelli’s Prince Philip Hospital also appear as closure options if a new centralised general and urgent care hospital is built to serve the region.

Prince Philip Hospital has already seen its A&E department downgraded to a minor injuries unit, while protests have taken place about the loss of services at Withybush Hospital.

Complaints against Neil McEvoy revealed

Last week, Neil McEvoy AM (Ind, South Wales Central) released a statement and held a press conference where he revealed details of the complaints made against him which (indirectly) led to his permanent exclusion from the Plaid Cymru group. There’s also a rundown on Wales Online.

  • Deryn Consulting’s Nerys Evans (former Plaid Cymru AM) cited numerous Wales Online articles and tweets (that supposedly didn’t refer to her by name or as a subject) as examples of harassment. A confidential email formed part of this parcel of evidence and “could only have been leaked to Deryn by a Plaid Cymru AM”.
  • Nerys Evans asked to be given advanced sight of any stories coming from the Plaid Cymru group concerning Deryn (following Neil’s complaints about Deryn’s Ofcom contract – which was later found to have broken procurement rules).
  • Neil reportedly said,”what do you care, you are a lobbyist” to two Deryn employees in a Cardiff street, though no dates, times or locations are mentioned in the complaint.
  • Deryn’s Cathy Owens said she felt “bullied and intimidated” following a phone conversation with Neil.
  • Llamau’s chief executive, Frances Beecher, cited “rude behaviour” when Neil complained about a domestic violence report written regarding a constituent – complaints that were later supposedly upheld. Deryn’s senior adviser, Jo Kiernan, was working with/at Llamau at the time and the complaint contained personal details about the constituent; legal advice is now being sought.
  • A complaint was made about an “amicable” Twitter conversation between Neil by a third party after that third party was contacted by Nerys Evans.
  • An unspecified employment matter which “is being dealt with by the Assembly Commission”.

Plaid Cymru denied there was any coordination between Deryn and the complainants….but that begs the question as to why they were refuting allegations about another organisation? How would they know?

It’s not enough for me to think this is a grand conspiracy. The waters are so muddy at the moment it’s impossible to take sides. Inevitably, there’ll be more on another time but the most important thing is to bring the matter to a swift and fair conclusion.

First Minister warned of “unacceptable” A&E safety risks

A letter to the First Minister from A&E consultants has warned him that safety is being compromised in Welsh hospitals amidst increased pressure on services due to a rise in flu cases and general hospital admissions.

Only 78.9% of patients spent less than four hours in A&E departments in December 2017 compared to a target of 95% – although the Wales Ambulance Service were exceeding the target to respond to the most serious 999 calls within 8 minutes.

Council Leader criticises education budget cuts

Swansea Council’s leader, Rob Stewart, criticised the Welsh Government and Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams (Lib Dem, Brecon & Radnor) for making cuts to the Education Improvement Grant, which had been used to improve performances of children whose first language isn’t English as well as other minority groups.

The Education Secretary still expects £10million to be spent across Wales to support ethnic minority learners.

Petitions Committee backs Ffestiniog Hospital services

The Petitions Committee backed calls for a minor injuries unit, x-ray services and inpatient beds to be restored at Ffestiniog Memorial Hospital in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd (pdf).

The services were downgraded and moved to Tremadog, but Gwynedd Council and petitioners had argued for the services to return. The Committee recommended that health services in the Blaenau Ffestiniog area be investigated by an independent agency and for “bridged to be built” between the health board and local community to ensure a new health centre currently under construction (Canolfan Goffa Ffestiniog) is a success.

Welsh Government launches RIFW legal action

Two companies involved in the RIFW scandal – where publicly-owned land was sold whilst massively under-valued (more here) – will be subject to Welsh Government legal action.

Lambert Smith Hampton and Amber Fund Management will be sued for breach of contract and professional negligence. The land parcels which were sold were long-earmarked for housing development but were sold for farmland prices, meaning Welsh taxpayers missed out on a windfall worth at least £15million.