Senedd Bites #59: Cancer services “at risk” due to lack of specialists

(Title Image: Nick Youngson via Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Wales facing a severe shortage of cancer specialists

The Royal College of Radiologists has revealed that only three specialist clinical oncologists joined the Welsh NHS in the last five years.

While the RCR accepted there was a shortage of clinical oncologists across the UK as a whole, they also said Wales was better at retaining its own consultants and called for additional investment in trainee oncologist places. Nonetheless, vacancy rates were highest in Wales of all the UK’s nations.

The Welsh Government said, “We are working to improve recruitment for cancer service staff. Health Education and Improvement Wales, along with Social Care Wales, will also be publishing a new national workforce strategy later this year.”

Senior Labour figure criticises Mark Drakeford’s approach to Brexit

An unnamed senior Labour figure last week told BBC Wales that there were splits emerging in the Welsh Government on the First Minister’s approach to Brexit.

The First Minister appears to support a second referendum, but only if there were a new UK General Election which produced an inconclusive result – a subject which lead to angry clashes in the Senedd chamber last week.

The unnamed source told BBC Wales that the First Minister’s position was “confusing” and “could be clearer”. They also claimed it was causing tension within the Cabinet. Two senior cabinet members – Health Minister, Vaughan Gething (Lab, Cardiff S. & Penarth) and International Relations Minister, Eluned Morgan (Lab, Mid & West Wales) – are due to attend a People’s Vote march in London this weekend.

Former Conservative activist racially abused

Melanie Owen, a former employee of the Welsh Secretary and Leave campaigner, told BBC Wales she was subjected to racist abuse within the party and on one instance was told she had small hands “because her ancestors picked cotton” and was also told about the economic benefits of slavery.

She also said the party had “moved backwards” on racism and while they were more tolerant in 2014, there was now a growing hostility towards ethnic minorities.

The Conservatives said, “Discrimination or abuse of any kind is wrong and will not be tolerated, and these kinds of comments are completely unacceptable.”

Committee concerned about public sector “gagging clauses”

A Public Accounts Committee report on the annual scrutiny of accounts (pdf) concluded that too much information was withheld from the public due to “commercial confidentiality”, preventing “robust scrutiny”.

Chair of the Committee, Nick Ramsay AM (Con, Monmouth) said, “The Committee accepts there may be circumstances when an organisation needs to protect information or data for confidential purposes. But these clauses must not be used as a default position by public sector bodies to avoid scrutiny which could potentially be embarrassing. It is important the public has confidence in public sector spending.”

Row over National Library job advert

The National Library of Wales was told by the Deputy Minister for Culture, Dafydd Elis-Thomas (Ind, Dwyfor Meironnydd), not to place an essential Welsh language requirement in a job advert for a new chief executive in order to attract the widest number of candidates.

The Library hired Welsh-speaker, Pedr ap Llwyd, over the Deputy Minister’s objections. Cymdeithas yr Iaith called Mr Elis-Thomas’ intervention “disgraceful”, while the former chief executive, Linda Thomas, said the Welsh Government were deliberately looking for a confrontation.