Health Secretary calls for common sense medicine supply arrangements after Brexit

(Title Image: Diabetes Diet Blog)

Following on from Education Questions this afternoon, it was time for Health & Social Care Questions.

Care & Brexit

Helen Mary Jones AM (Plaid, Mid & West Wales) asked what assessment the Welsh Government have made on the number of workers from EU member stats working in the Welsh NHS and in social care?

Minister for Social Services, Huw Irranca-Davies (Lab, Ogmore), told the chamber there was a relative lack of data for social care compared to the NHS because it’s so dispersed and not a single large organisation.

Helen thought it was frustrating to be this close to Brexit and still have no idea of the potential impact on social care.

“Minister, you will be aware of last year’s study by the BMJ that links cuts and austerity in social care to an increase in mortality in care homes. One of the mitigating measures….is the presence of fully qualified registered nurses staffing care homes. Do you accept there might be a risk to safety if Brexit and the immigration rules significantly affect the levels of registered nurses in care homes, and what are you able to do to mitigate that risk?”
– Helen Mary Jones AM

The Minister said Wales had to “absolutely guard against that happening” and the UK Government haven’t listened to Welsh Government calls for residency schemes for EU nationals working in health to be extended to social care and their families.

Horrific Failings at Gwynedd care home

Shadow Social Services Minister, Janet Finch-Saunders AM (Con, Aberconwy) raised the case of abuse at Pines residential care home in Gwynedd, recently shown on S4C’s Y Byd ar Bedwar.

“I’m sure that you are as horrified as I am to learn of the horrific failings and incidences of alleged abuse and neglect at the Pines residential home in Gwynedd. From the footage that has come to light, there is apparent evidence of falsifying documents, medications hidden in residents’ food, unsafe methods of moving residents and an overall lack of dignity and respect in their treatment and care.”
– Shadow Social Services Minister, Janet-Finch Saunders AM

The Minister said he couldn’t comment on the Pines care home at the moment, but stressed that the Welsh Government and Senedd have passed regulations to ensure that there aren’t just minimal standards in care homes but continual improvements.

He said the Welsh Government are seeking to update guidance (dating from 2009) regarding care homes and also work with the NHS and Care Inspectorate Wales on how to properly embed human rights into care home inspection reports. What struck him is that he can visit a school and children know what their rights are, but older people in care homes often don’t realise they have specific rights at all.

Insulin Concerns

Hefin David AM (Lab, Caerphilly) asked about contingency plans for medicines after Brexit. He had particular concerns over supplies of insulin.

“My question leads from a concern raised by a constituent about the supply of insulin to Britain in the event of a no-deal Brexit. He raised concerns following remarks made by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s Sir Michael Rawlins, who warned on 30 July that insulin is not manufactured in Britain, all of it has to be imported, and it cannot be transported like other prescription drugs because it’s temperature controlled.”
– Hefin David AM

The Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething (Lab, Cardiff S. & Penarth) couldn’t offer any assurances that all will be well, though with 14,500 people in Wales with Type 1 diabetes it was a cause for concern. He wanted face-to-face talks between the respective health ministers in the UK, but the English Health Secretary, Matt Hancock MP, has so far refused.

“Now, I’m not in control of the conversation with EU partners. I don’t believe they want to punish the UK at all, but there must be some common sense about our arrangements with the rest of the EU to make sure that that supply is not interrupted.”
– Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething

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