Senedd Bites #39: “Record worst” A&E performance & more

(Title Image: Daily Post)

“Record worst” A&E performance in north Wales

Two hospitals in the northeast – Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and Wrexham Maelor – recorded the worse performance on record with regard the proportion of patients waiting longer than 4 hours to receive treatment at accident and emergency departments, according to a BBC Wales analysis.

In August 2018, less than half of patients at Wrexham were seen within 4 hours and at Glan Clwyd, the proportion was just 52.9%. In 2009, both hospitals recorded performance at 90% or higher.

Shadow Health Secretary, Angela Burns AM (Con, Carms. W. & S. Pembs.) said, “Everybody knows that NHS staff across the country work tirelessly and passionately but these shocking statistics clearly show that staff and patients are being let down by a complacent Welsh Labour government.”

The issue led to a clash between the First Minister and the Leader of the Opposition at this week’s FMQs (watch here).

ONS Survey: Rise in the number of Welsh-speakers

The Welsh Government is well on its way to hitting its goal of having 1million Welsh-speakers by 2050 after an Office for National Statistics survey revealed that an estimated 874,000 people could speak Welsh in June 2018, up from 727,000 in June 2008.

The new estimate suggests 29.3% of the population can speak Welsh, up around 4 percentage points since 2008.

The local authorities with the highest proportion of Welsh-speakers remain in the north and west, with more than half of people in four local authorities – Anglesey, Ceredigion, Gwynedd and Carmarthenshire – estimated to be able to speak Welsh.

£6million to help anchor companies deal with Brexit

The Welsh Government will provide £6million in grants to some of Wales’ major anchor companies to help prepare them for Brexit, the First Minister announced at UK Labour’s autumn conference.

The First Minister warned that a level of “industrial carnage” similar to the loss of heavy industry could happen in the event of a “No Deal” Brexit. He also criticised the UK Government for only introducing a workable plan (Chequers Agreement, which has been rejected by EU leaders) just weeks before negotiations are due to end.

“Generous” student finance system begins

The first cohort of university students to be eligible for funding under the Diamond Review reforms started their courses this week.

The new system will provide living grants and loans to cover tuition fees and living costs depending on household incomes and where a student chooses to study. However, there were warnings that students will leave university with more debt under the new system that they did previously.

Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams (Lib Dem, Brecon & Radnor), told BBC Wales, “Not only does it provide support for full-time undergraduates but we’ve been able to provide that support for part-time students and for post-graduate study also”.

Life expectancy “goes backwards” for the first time

According to recently released Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, life expectancies in Wales fell for the first time since the projections were published in 1982.

Life expectancies in Wales fell by more than a month for both men and women, while Scotland and Northern Ireland saw falls in male life expectancies only. The figures remained unchanged in England.

Some of the explanations given for the fall include two serious flu outbreaks in 2015 and 2017 and some harsh winters which have resulted in excess deaths.

Cuts to public spending in certain areas, such as social care for the elderly, were also said to be partly behind the fall.

Criticism of decision not to censure AM for sexist video

A number of AMs have criticised a decision by the Standards Commissioner not to pursue a complaint that a video which superimposed Joyce Watson AM’s (Lab, Mid & West Wales) face on a barmaid wearing a low-cut top was sexist.

The video was posted on Youtube by UKIP’s Gareth Bennett, who also made salacious comments about the AM’s appearance. However, the Standards Commissioner determined it wasn’t serious enough to be referred to the Standards Committee.

Joyce Watson and Bethan Sayed AM (Plaid, South Wales West) asked for a reconsideration, while Welsh Women’s Aid said the decision “sends out the wrong signal”.