FMQs: Prostates, NHS Cash & Hybrid Cars



FMQs, 19th June 2018

Leader of the Opposition, Andrew RT Davies AM (Con, South Wales Central): Prostate Cancer Screening

Screening for prostate cancer “left a lot to be desired”, particularly in Wales, given that treatment success rates were often good if it’s caught early. Access to an advanced scanner (mpMRI) was limited and cancer “doesn’t rely on postcodes”. If Wales had a robust screening programme the numbers dying – as prostate cancer becomes the biggest killer of men – could be driven down.

The First Minister gave a detailed answer where, in essence, said the guidance from NICE on the use of the scanner was currently under review. He didn’t believe it was possible to screen everyone; it has to be targeted. The proportion of cancer patients in Wales who start treatment within target times was very high – 88.7% for urgent and 96% for non-urgent cases.

Verdict: Block – I’m not qualified to tell who was right or wrong here, so I’ll call it a draw.

Caroline Jones AM (UKIP, South Wales West): UK Government NHS “Cash Boost”

It’s expected that Wales will receive an extra £1.2billion-a-year as a result of the UK Government’s announced £20billion-a-year boost for the NHS in England. Had any decisions been made on how to spend it yet (including ring-fencing it for health). Caroline said mental health services needed more resources due to excessive waiting times and increases in demand.

The Welsh Government can’t make promises until they know how much they’ll have to spend and we don’t know yet whether there’ll be cuts elsewhere which might bring that “extra £1.2billion” figure down. Mental health is a key government priority and will shape any future spending decisions, but it was also important to seek preventative measures to stop people becoming ill in the first place.

Verdict: Miss – Not a criticism, just a straightforward answer to a straightforward question.

Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda): Air Quality

Did the First Minister agree with ClientEarth’s assessment that Welsh Government plans for air quality “lacked clarity and detail”? Poor air quality is a public health crisis and hydrogen fuel could play a key role in decarbonising the Welsh economy. Did he support a Clean Air Act? Labour-run Cardiff Council has called for a ban on polluting vehicles by 2030, so why can’t Labour be consistent on policy for once?

Unsurprisingly, Carwyn didn’t agree whilst accepting the challenge poor air quality poses. He thought it might be too early for hydrogen fuel, but he was confident that it will be a realistic option eventually. He didn’t explicitly support or oppose a Clean Air Act but pointed to laws which promote using alternatives to cars, like the Active Travel Act. As soon as Cardiff was mentioned, he accused Leanne Wood and Plaid Cymru of hypocrisy because they didn’t drive hybrid cars (like himself).

Verdict: Hit – Carwyn was doing well until the end.

Backbenchers

Mohammad Asghar AM (Con, South Wales East): What measures will the Welsh Government introduce to prevent animal cruelty in the next 12 months (CCTV in abattoirs)?

A new framework on animal health and welfare has been developed. There were a number of controls at abattoirs already in place. Larger abattoirs have CCTV and vets can access footage if they have animal welfare concerns. £1.1million for the food industry will help smaller producers improve their facilities, including CCTV.

Verdict: Miss – Straightforward question, straightforward answer.

Paul Davies AM (Con, Preseli Pembs.): Will the First Minister outline the Welsh Government’s economic priorities for Pembrokeshire for the next 12 months?

£86million will be invested until 2020 to ensure small businesses receive business support. The number of businesses in Pembrokeshire has increased by 10.6% since 2011 and investments have been made in broadband in the area to ensure growing businesses can remain in rural areas and won’t have to move.

Verdict: Miss – Straightforward question, straightforward answer.

Neil Hamilton AM (UKIP, Mid & West Wales): How does the Welsh Government assist health boards in the planning of healthcare in Mid and West Wales (Betsi Cadwaladr & Hywel Dda health boards)?

A statement was issued by the Health Secretary last week on progress at Betsi Cadwaladr health board. An additional £14.4million was provided to Hywel Dda health board between 2015-16 and 2016-17 in recognition of their financial challenges and an additional £27million in the current financial year.

Verdict: Miss – Straightforward question, straightforward answer.

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