FMQs: Bring Your Toys To School Day

Here’s what happened at the final FMQs of the 2017-18 term before an 8-week break (….for me). Changes are afoot – more later this week.

FMQs, 17th July 2018

Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda): Cancer Diagnosis Waiting Times

Cancer diagnosis times remained a postcode lottery, with more than 1 in 4 cancer patients in Wales diagnosed at the latest stage (Stage 4) and for some cancers, the wait between suspicion and diagnosis was the longest in Europe. People in poorer areas were often diagnosed later. Will the First Minister commit to a 28-day referral to diagnosis waiting target?

The First Minister didn’t know which parts of Wales had the longest waiting times but knew they “compare very well” with the rest of the UK. Consultants told him that a 28-day target isn’t suitable for all cancers and there’s no clinical evidence that a 28-day target would work. It was hugely important that people who suspect that something’s wrong go to the doctor at the earliest possibility. 85.5% of urgent and 97% of non-urgent patients with cancer started treatment within target times.

Verdict: Block – Give and take from both of them.

Paul Davies AM (Con, Preseli Pembs.): Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board Mental Health Services

There was another critical report into the state of mental health services in north Wales published recently. The Welsh Government should be ashamed of how it’s run the health board; progress has been slow and people will rightly be angry. “You are responsible”.

The First Minister accepted it was a “difficult report”, though it highlighted some areas of progress. Whenever there are similar reports in England, the failings are brushed towards the health boards. He then moved to blame Tory cuts and deals with the DUP, which Welsh Conservatives have failed to replicate for Wales.

Verdict: Hit – Paul clearly struck a nerve.

Caroline Jones AM (UKIP, South Wales West): Public Service Reform

The out-going Auditor General has claimed public services in Wales are in need of reform and expressed frustration that devolution hasn’t led to a rethink of how public services are delivered. Some services are facing increased pressure and despite spending more on health per-head than England, Wales has longer waiting times. Is the Welsh Government too focused on structures than outcomes?

The Welsh Government always seeks to put in place the best model for public services that it can – merging bodies and the development of regional educational consortia, for example. Local government and schools in Wales have been spared some of the cuts that have faced English councils and schools.

Verdict: Block – The (soon to be former) Auditor General’s statement has rightly caused a stir.


Hefin David AM (Lab, Caerphilly): Will the First Minister make a statement on Welsh Government funding for major infrastructure projects (Mutual Investment Model – MIM)?

The Wales infrastructure investment plan has outlined £6.5billion worth of projects for this term. The key difference between MIM and PFI is that it won’t result in money being used to finance things like cleaning and catering and the public sector will get a share in any return on investment/profits. It still has to be approached prudently.

Verdict: Miss – Straightforward question, straightforward answer.

Llyr Gruffydd AM (Plaid, North Wales): Will the First Minister make a statement on the future of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board?

Clear expectations have been set to drive improvements over the next 18 months. A new chair has also been appointed. Things have improved with some services – like maternity services – coming out of special measures, but there’s more to be done.

Verdict: Miss – Straightforward question, straightforward answer.

Dai Lloyd AM (Plaid, South Wales West): Will the First Minister make a statement on the provision of night-time domiciliary care?

Local authorities are responsible for determining an individual’s care needs, including overnight care. It’s important they remain flexible to ensure people get any support they need. He didn’t rule in or rule out possible policies to ensure young carers, who might have overnight care responsibilities, can remain in education after the age of 16.

Verdict: Miss – Straightforward question, straightforward answer.

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