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Welsh Government’s NHS service reconfiguration becoming a farce

Before the summer recess, a supposedly ‘independent’ report on the case for change for the NHS in Wales by Professor Marcus Longley was criticised by opposition parties as being discredited because of the involvement of Welsh Government officials in the formulation of the report.

Another report by the National Clinical Forum on service reconfiguration in Betsi Cadwadaldr University Health Board appears to have been altered to give a more positive response to the LHB’s reconfiguration plans.

I am deeply concerned that while changes in the service provision are necessary, the way the Labour Government is managing the transition process is not open and transparent.

If the Welsh Labour Government is going to steer through a set of radical changes in our NHS, they need to take people with them. Trust is essential in this process and we’ve recently seen that the Welsh Government hasn’t been entirely honest with the people of Wales.

Just before the summer recess, we saw how Welsh Government officials were involved in the drafting of a supposedly independent academic report on the case for change in our NHS. The revelation about a new ‘altered’ report is again a blow to the credibility of the reconfiguration process.

The National Clinical Forum is supposed to be an independent body whose task it is to oversee reconfiguration proposals of LHBs and offer independent and clinical critique of the plans. At the time of its establishment, the Health Minister said that this forum was set up to take the politics out of making difficult decisions. It is quite clear that politics has played a part in the redrafting of the revised report. There is a big difference in ‘clarifying’ a few details in a report and performing a ‘u-turn’.

The people of North Wales, and indeed across the whole of Wales, must be confident that the decisions taken about their health services are made in an open, honest and transparent way. I want the Health Minister to come before Assembly Members to explain how this redrafting was allowed to happen and provide assurance that this will not happen again.

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