FMQs: First Minister gives Cwm Taf maternity services a vote of confidence

LGBTs in Catholic Schools, Hunger Strikes and Language Targets

Plaid Cymru leader, Adam Price AM (Plaid, Carms. E & Dinefwr), asked three questions, though the substantive one covered LGBTs in the Catholic school curriculum:

“….in the context of Catholic schools, there is confirmation on websites and, indeed, in the testimony of teachers that the belief that gay relationships are morally unacceptable is being presented to children and young people in 2019. Your Education Minister, it’s reported, is content to continue to allow discretion to Welsh faith schools to teach relationship and sex education in line with their own beliefs. Is that something you support?”
– Adam Price AM

The First Minister said consultations were still ongoing (more here), but it was “entirely unacceptable” that those sort of views were being expressed.

Turning to Kurdish hunger strikers (there’s a debate on this tomorrow) Adam asked what the Welsh Government’s position was? The First Minister gave a non-committal answer which boiled down to “wait and see”; Adam didn’t quite understand it.

The final question focused on concerns from the Public Accounts Committee that not enough was being done to promote the use of Welsh within the public sector – to which the First Minister said the Welsh Government were working on promoting and boosting confidence in using the Welsh language “every day”.

Were mothers and babies put at risk in Cwm Taf health board?

Following the recent publication of a Health Inspectorate Wales report into Cwm Taf health board maternity services, Leader of the Opposition, Paul Davies AM (Con, Preseli Pembs.), asked straight up whether mothers and babies were put at risk?

The First Minister said they were no longer at risk, at least:

“I don’t believe that mothers and babies are now being put at risk because action has been taken….to attend to some disturbing information that came to light. Those actions, I think, are succeeding. There is more for the health board to do, but I believe that the health board is seized of the urgency of those issues; that it has acted on the information that has come forward….”
– First Minister, Mark Drakeford (Lab, Cardiff West)

Paul Davies said expectant mothers had a right to the best possible care and the best possible chance of delivering a healthy baby and he drew comparisons with plans to downgrade maternity services in Pembrokeshire which he believes would put patients at risk.

The First Minister told him there were no plans to change existing services at Withybush Hospital, while checks and balances ensured issues within Cwm Taf were raised and addressed; it was a hard-hitting report, but the right action has since been taken.

No new consultation on north Wales vascular services

Sian Gwenllian AM (Plaid, Arfon) raised the recent row over emergency vascular services in north Wales. There were accusations that the Welsh Government and Betsi Cadwaladr health board had misled the public over proposed changes to vascular services. Was a new consultation necessary?

Janet Finch-Saunders AM (Con, Aberconwy) agreed, all but calling for the decision to be reversed through extra investment.

The First Minister denied any manipulation. 80% of services would continue to be delivered locally and the idea of centralising highly-specialised services was to ensure staff had enough practical experience and casework to ensure patient safety.

“….(Janet Finch-Saunders) will know what’s been put in place: £2.3 million from the Welsh Government for a vascular hybrid theatre, and, as a result of concentrating that service on one site, the health board has been able to attract six additional consultant vascular surgeons, an additional consultant radiologist, four vascular junior doctors, extra vascular specialist nurses, a dedicated 18-bed vascular ward. All of these would be put at risk if we said to all of those people who have been attracted to this new service….”
First Minister, Mark Drakeford

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