Report on Cwm Taf maternity services expected during the spring

(Title Image: Cwm Taf Local Health Board)

Following on from this afternoon’s Education Questions, it was time for the first Health Questions of 2019.

Medicines Contingency

Helen Mary Jones AM (Plaid, Mid & West Wales) asked for an update of contingency plans for medicines in light of Brexit.

“The radioactive isotope technetium is used in about 850,000 scans in the UK for a whole range of conditions, including heart disease and cancers. This product has a half-life of just 66 hours, meaning that it can’t be stored and stockpiled. Currently, the UK as a whole relies on a continuous supply of this product from France, Belgium and the Netherlands, and that supply is governed by the Euratom agreement.”
– Helen Mary Jones AM

Health Minister, Vaughan Gething (Lab, Cardiff S. & Penarth) said he’s attended and will attend a number of meetings on the subject but stressed that “if we crash out without a deal at the end of March, it will have a real and almost immediate impact upon people’s health and well-being.”

A No Deal Brexit would make it impossible for supply chains to continue as they are and the health services of the UK are working to increase storage capacity.

Cwm Taf intervention

News broke earlier today that Cwm Taf health board has been placed into “enhanced monitoring” following concerns about stillbirths and maternity services.

Pre-empting an urgent question on this, Darren Millar AM (Con, Clwyd West) accused the Welsh Government of taking too long to intervene. Five out of seven health boards were now subject to some form of government monitoring.

“It was on 4 October, Minister, that concerns about maternity services were first exposed at the Cwm Taf health board. Your statement, today, refers to non-compliance with health and safety and radiation regulations, quality of governance and serious incident reporting arrangements, the lack of action and response to healthcare inspectorate reports and staffing shortages also in that health board being problematic.”
– Darren Millar AM

The Health Minister denied it had taken too long and said he had kept AMs informed of all developments in good time.

“Well, I would hope there would be a more rational and factually-founded response on these matters. Trying to conflate the issue of maternity services with the areas that are in my written statement today simply does not stand up to honest scrutiny. On maternity services, we acted properly and promptly.”
– Health Minister, Vaughan Gething

He told AMs he expected a report on maternity services to be ready by the spring.

Minister “proud” of approach to HIV prevention

Vikki Howells AM (Lab, Cynon Valley) has been encouraged by the response to the introduction of PrEP to prevent HIV transmission. What work was being undertaken to build on this?

The Minister said he was proud of the national approach taken to PrEP in Wales. No new cases of HIV have emerged in the groups currently taking PrEP or other preventative medicines. There did, however, remain a challenge in getting people to take part in follow-ups; 1 in 4 people eligible for PrEP don’t come back for follow-ups.

Research has been commissioned into the behaviours of people who take PrEP as general STD rates remain high within that group.

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