Veronica German has today called for the Assembly Government to reveal the findings of the feasibility test on the Newport to Ebbw Vale rail link.
The feasibility test, conducted by Network Rail for the Welsh Assembly Government, was intended to assist the Government into making an informed decision on the next steps that need to be taken.
The Assembly Government have always maintained that the study would be completed and announced by March 2011.
Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate for South Wales East, Veronica German, commented:
“It has repeatedly been announced that the feasibility work would be completed by the end of the Government’s term. With only a month to go, we must see the results of Network Rail’s findings.
“The Deputy First Minister stated that no decision on the Ebbw Vale to Newport rail line would happen until the feasibility test had been conducted. I believe it is our right that he release to the general public the results that Network Rail have found.
“This saga has been going on for far too long now. In 2008 it was indicated that the service would be fully operational in time for the Ryder Cup. Now, with a month to go until the end of the Labour-Plaid Government, we’re still waiting for the results of the feasibility study.”
The Deputy First Minister has always stated that no work on this project could be done until works at Gaer Junction would be complete. In 2008 he announced that this would definitely be done by 2010. This year he stated it will now be done after April 2011.
Ms German continued:
“This rail-link is crucial, yet this Assembly Government has categorically failed to get it up and running.”
Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Health, Veronica German has today expressed her support for Macmillan’s calls to overhaul cancer services in Wales.
Ms German commented:
“Last month we released our cancer plan for Wales which is calling for a more comprehensive cancer strategy in Wales.
“There is an increasing body of evidence that shows that under the Labour-Plaid government, Wales has slipped behind England, despite spending more per head on our health services.
“The Welsh Government has failed to develop proper strategies to improve the prevention and treatment of cancer, as Scotland and England have done. The result of this has been patients in Wales receiving worse services in Wales than over the border.
“Wales needs a cancer service that is focused on the patient and their family from diagnosis, treatment through to aftercare, remission and palliative care.
“In short, a service that doesn’t stop when the treatment stops.”
Veronica German, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Health and Wellbeing, is encouraged to see that there has been an improvement in ambulance waiting times across Wales but has noted that there is still a great deal of improvement needed.
The new stats show that in January 2011, 59% of emergency responses arrived within 8 minutes. The All-Wales target is 65%.
Veronica German, Assembly Member for South Wales East, said:
“In December the weather conditions were absolutely horrendous, which obviously put the ambulance service under a lot of strain. Across Wales, ambulance figures for December were understandably poor, so it’s good to see that they are starting to head back in the right direction.
“I’m also pleased that the new stats show that across Wales there has been a slight improvement in urgent response times when compared to the same time last year. Nonetheless, there is still a long way to go. Ambulance staff are working incredibly hard but the increase in percentage of ambulances arriving for urgent calls is up only about 1%. There are some areas, such as Torfaen and Newport, that are actually worse this year when compared to last.
“Sadly, not a single unitary authority in South Wales East met the Government-set target. In Torfaen, only 40% of ambulances that were needed urgently arrived within 8 minutes. I welcome that this is an improvement on December, but this is still nowhere near good enough. It is clear that residents in South Wales East continue to receive inferior treatment compared to most other parts of Wales.
“It is clear that the improvement will require a joint effort by Local Health Boards as well as the Ambulance service. If ambulances are queuing up outside hospitals they cannot be sent on emergency calls. The Labour-Plaid Government have still not got a grip on our NHS which has resulted in the people of Wales not receiving the treatment that they deserve.”
Veronica German, Assembly Member for South Wales East, has pressed the First Minister to do more to tackle inequalities in Wales so areas such a Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent are not left behind.
In First Minister’s Questions, Ms German noted that over the last 14 years the difference in life expectancy between the highest and lowest local authority has actually increased, whilst the difference between Wales and the UK has also widened.
Ms German, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Minister, commented:
“Despite 13 years of a so-called ‘progressive’ Labour government, the gap between the rich and the poor has continued to widen. Those areas that were poorest 14 years ago are still the poorest now.
“The Labour-Plaid Government must look at how they plan to improve the health of the poorest in Wales so as to improve healthy life expectancy. A review similar to the Marmot Review that was held in England would be a step in the right direction. The last figures released on Healthy Life Expectancy (HLE) showed that in some wards in Wales people can expect to live for around 20 years healthier than someone who might live in Merthyr.
“For too long many people in Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent have suffered from high levels of deprivation. Reducing health inequalities is a matter of fairness and social justice. The Welsh Assembly Government needs to be doing all it can do put an end to the disgraceful inequality that currently exists in Wales.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have set out their proposals for a National Cancer Plan for Wales. Launching their policy document, Wales Can Tackle Cancer, Welsh Liberal Democrats set out plans to develop a comprehensive National Cancer Plan for Wales to:
• Roll out the latest IMRT radiotherapy across Wales.
• Invest in state of the art screening.
• Ensure a personal service that goes the extra mile for patients and families.
• Tackle inequalities so that Wales has a service comparable to England.
• Provide up to date bespoke information for patients and families.
• Promote the mutual support groups so that patients receive the reassurance they need.
The document also highlights the inadequacies of the Labour-Plaid governments Wales’ approach to cancer prevention and treatment and sets out evidence that Wales is now slipping behind both Scotland and England in cancer prevention, detection and treatment.
Veronica German AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Minister, said:
“Under the Labour-Plaid government, Wales has slipped behind England, despite spending more per head on our health services. The Welsh Government has failed to develop proper strategies to improve the prevention and treatment of cancer, as Scotland and England have done. The result of this has been patients in Wales receiving worse services than patients over the border.
“Wales needs a cancer service that is focused on the patient and their family from diagnosis, treatment through to aftercare, remission and palliative care. In short, a service that doesn’t stop when the treatment stops.”
Commenting, Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:
“Wales can tackle cancer but it needs the government to give it the priority and attention that it deserves. Welsh Liberal Democrats have today set out plans to develop a comprehensive National Cancer Plan for Wales. We will redirect money currently in the NHS budget to fund newer medicines and modern equipment to tackle cancer. We will ensure better facilities to help cut waiting times and improve patients’ quality of life.”
Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Health, Veronica German AM, has criticised the Welsh Assembly Government for not doing more to prevent sight loss in Wales.
Speaking in the Senedd, Ms German asked the First Minister what he would be doing to ensure that saving people’s sight is addressed in a public health strategy.
Veronica German, Assembly Member for South Wales East, commented:
“Sight loss has a huge impact upon individuals, the statutory sector and the wider economy of Wales.
“People with sight loss are twice as likely to suffer from depression. They are more likely to fall into poverty and many lose all independence becoming trapped in their own homes and dependent upon support from the statutory sector.
“Sight loss also has a huge cost to the NHS and support services in Wales, totalling around £300m a year in Wales alone. This number will continue to increase if this Labour-Plaid Government does not act now to tackle these issues.
“According to research the number of people with sight loss, if no action is taken, will double in the next twenty five years. This is despite the fact that up to half of sight loss is preventable. After all these years, this Labour-Plaid Government still does not have a discernable public health strategy to tackle this serious issue.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have today announced that they will do everything within the standing orders of the Assembly to oppose the Labour-Plaid government’s anti-democratic plan to reorganise local government in Wales without due process, scrutiny and consultation with the communities affected.
The Labour-Plaid Government last week announced plans to amend the proposed Local Government Measure. The plans would give ministers sweeping powers to merge or amalgamate councils with minimum debate and consultation and virtually no scrutiny.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Local Government, Veronica German AM, said:
“The Labour-Plaid government wants the powers to allow a reorganisation of local government by Ministerial decree with minimal consultation with the communities affected and next to no scrutiny and debate in the National Assembly. These proposals have been brought forward very late in the day and after the Stage One evidence and scrutiny has finished.
“Ministers seem to be indicating that it is only relation to Anglesey and Gwynedd that they will use these powers, in which case they should be honest about what they see as the issue in Anglesey and bring forward specific proposals to address them.
“The proposals make a laughing stock of the Labour-Plaid commitment to local government and to the Assembly. Such behavior is a dreadful advert for devolution and plays into the hands of No campaigners who would prefer powers to rest in London.”
Commenting Peter Black AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, said:
“These proposals show breath taking arrogance from the Labour-Plaid administration and total contempt for the communities of Wales. It is totally unacceptable for Labour to use their huge majority in the Assembly to railroad through proposals of this type for which they have no mandate. Neither Plaid Cymru nor Labour put these proposals in their manifesto, nor did they form part of their coalition agreement.
“Once these powers have been passed to the Minister, it will be very difficult to win them back. This Minister and future Ministers will have enormous powers to reorganise local government and the delivery of vital services without involving the communities affected.
“It is the job of Welsh Liberal Democrats to be the effective voice of all our communities in Wales.
We will be using all the procedures available to us within the rules of the Assembly to block these proposals and ensure that they do not reach the statue book.
“Welsh Liberal Democrats are proposing a series of amendments all of which seek to improve the measure by extending consultation and limiting ministerial power. Taking individually, they would improve the proposals but we are clear that the Labour-Plaid government must withdraw these proposals and think again.”
Amendments can be found here when they are updated:
Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Minister, Veronica German, has today called for the Assembly Government to produce a strategic Action plan to address the backlog of NHS repairs.
Speaking in a debate on the Labour-Plaid Government’s Capital Programme, Ms German called for an Action Plan for the Assembly to debate. This plan, Ms German argued, should prioritise two areas – hospitals with significant risk and hospitals with poor accessibility.
Ms German, Assembly Member for South Wales East, commented:
“There is a legacy of years of neglect in our NHS with over £400 million worth of repairs and a series of reports that confirm that targets are once again being missed, it is obvious leadership is needed now more than ever. Rather than the policy-by-headlines approach that this Government so far has lead the NHS in Wales with, Labour and Plaid urgently need a strategic Action Plan.
“Nearly half the NHS repairs backlog represents repairs that are needed to protect from risks that are deemed either a significant or high risk. This Labour-Plaid Government is letting NHS staff and patients down with their failure to ensure their safety.
“Just as concerning is the issue of disabled access to the NHS. The Government’s own report proves that over £16 million is needed to bring the NHS in Wales in compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act. These hospitals are, in effect, discriminating against disabled people. The Act was passed back in 2004, how much longer do people with disabilities have to wait until they are treated as equals in our NHS?”
Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Health and Wellbeing Veronica German AM has today responded to the ministerial statement from the Health Minister on the effect the recent bad weather had on the Welsh Health Service.
Ms German Commented: “I welcome today’s statement by the Minister for Health and Social Services and the establishment of the ‘Choose Well’ campaign. Any campaign which helps direct people to the most appropriate service when they feel unwell is a positive step.
“I would also like to pay tribute to all health service staff in Wales, who worked incredibly hard to deliver vital services in such difficult conditions.
“Whilst I accept that the extreme weather will inevitably slow services down and prevent targets being met it provides no explanation for every other month of the year.
“The Labour-Plaid Government is using the hard winter as an excuse for consistent failures to meet their own NHS targets. From the 80,000 lost ambulance hours leading to the inability to meet ambulance response time targets, this Government is not delivering the Health Service Wales needs.”