Senedd Bites #57: Free sanitary products in hospitals to tackle “period poverty”

(Title Image:Photo by Jochen Tack/imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock via Metro)

Free sanitary products to be offered to hospital patients to combat “period poverty”

The Health Minister, Vaughan Gething (Lab, Cardiff S. & Penarth) announced that free sanitary products will be made available to women patients in Welsh hospitals.

He said, “It’s unacceptable for anyone not to be able to access essential period products because they can’t afford them, particularly when they are receiving treatment in hospital.”

In May 2018, the Senedd unanimously backed a cross-party motion demanding action to address period poverty in schools (not hospitals), where it was estimated 10% of girls couldn’t afford sanitary products.

Shoppers rate Welsh food and drink highly

Ahead of a major international food and drink trade event (Blas Cymru/Taste Wales) in Newport on 21st and 22nd of March 2019, a new survey has found that shoppers hold Welsh produce in high regard.

The survey suggests 85% of people believe Welsh produce is great tasting, 80% would buy Welsh produce if the price was right and 29% of shoppers living outside Wales would like more Welsh produce on shelves.

Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths (Lab, Wrexham) said, “Our food and drink industry is world renowned and a real Welsh success story. We know people increasingly want to find out more about where their food is from and want to buy Welsh as seen in the figures published today.”

Phone mast planning rules relaxed

Weeks after the Economy & Infrastructure Committee recommended that planning rules for phone masts be relaxed to address “not spots”, the Welsh Government announced that phone masts of up to 25 metres will no longer require full planning permission (using a permitted development rights system).

Deputy Economy Minister, Lee Waters (Lab, Llanelli), said that while the move will improve mobile coverage, many of the main levels remained with the UK Government.

Chair of the Committee, Russell George AM (Con, Montgomery) told BBC Wales he was “pleased that the Welsh Government has finally proposed this change after many years of refusing this request It is critical that Wales is not left behind in this new era and there are still parts of Wales with no connection at all.”

Newport M4 report finally reaches First Minister

Last week, it was reported that civil servants – analysing the findings of a public inquiry and inspector’s report – have presented their findings to the First Minister. A vote was originally pencilled in for December 2018 but has since been delayed.

The Welsh Secretary has commented that the inspector’s report recommended the bypass be approved, but this hasn’t been confirmed or denied. AMs have been promised a binding vote on whether to approve or reject the project once the First Minister has studied the report.

“Severe shortage” of magistrates in Wales

The Magistrates Association has warned that Wales is facing a severe shortage of magistrates, with a 42% fall in their number since 2008 and with half of all current magistrates expected to retire over the coming decade; magistrates have to retire at age 70.

Two-magistrate benches were becoming more common in Wales (compared to the usual three) and the Association told BBC Wales, “Resources must be made available for advertising and promotion, while steps need to be taken to promote the magistracy to employers and to society as a whole.” Some have also called for the mandatory retirement age of 70 to be scrapped.

Healthcare body issues an open call for technology suggestions

Health Technology Wales has issued an open call for anybody – health professional, academics and members of the public – to suggest new non-medical technologies for the body to investigate. This could include new therapies, diagnostic tests and medical devices.

The public have until April 30th 2019 to make their suggestions.

The Chair of Health Technology Wales, Dr Peter Groves, said the body, “will provide independent, evidence-informed Guidance on the clinical and cost effectiveness of non-medicine technologies to provide assistance to the Welsh care sector in its health technology adoption decisions.

AMs back UK law creating harsher penalties for attacking service animals

On March 5th, AMs unanimously voted to grant their consent to a legislative consent motion which will remove a defence against attacking a service animal (i.e. police dog) where a person can claim they were defending themselves.

The law was introduced after a police dog called Finn was attacked by a suspected criminal who attempted to use a loophole in the law to escape prosecution.

There was criticism from the Chair of the Constitutional Affairs Committee, Mick Antoniw AM (Lab, Pontypridd) and Llyr Gruffydd AM (Plaid, North Wales) that the Welsh Government didn’t introduce such a law earlier.