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Perfect storm hangs over NHS in Wales

The Western Mail reports that Welsh Liberal Democrats Leader, Kirsty Williams has claimed the NHS in Wales is at a “critical tipping point” of sustainability in 2013 as reconfiguration takes shape.

She warned that reconfiguration plans and NHS financing could mean a “perfect storm” of factors could put the NHS under intolerable pressure:

“I think some of the chickens that have been flying around in the Welsh NHS for a long time are going to come home to roost, and you’re going to have a perfect storm of factors coming together that will put the NHS under real pressure.

“Yes budgets are tight, yes things are difficult – but they [Welsh Government] are making decision that are not helping themselves as a government, and more importantly, not helping the people out there in the service.”

The Welsh Lib Dem leader, who marked four years at the helm in December, was speaking about her party’s performance in 2012, and she claimed the party occupied a crucial role as a conduit between the Westminster and Cardiff Bay governments.

She also claimed the Silk Commission’s establishment and the announcement on borrowing powers “would not have happened” without the Welsh Lib Dems.

After losing one of its six AMs in the last election, the party was decimated in local elections in May, and has been rocked by a series of by-election disasters across the UK.

“I think it has been a year of highs and lows for the party as a whole,” she said. “There were some pretty bruising county council election results, when good colleagues who did a good job of running local services didn’t hold on to their seats.

“I don’t think that’s really a fault of their own as we have continued to be buffeted in Wales by national circumstances, which are proving difficult.

But she added: “In amongst all of that there were some high points – making progress and winning seats off the Tories in Montgomeryshire and going into coalition in Monmouthshire council.”

She said that it would be “delusional” to suggest the party didn’t face difficulties, but dismissed concerns the party is heading for disaster in the next election.

She said: “When people talk about a depleted group of AMs or no AMs at all – it was not that long when other journalist colleagues were suggesting we wouldn’t have any AMs after the last election, which was held in a very dire time.

“We went down by one, for the sake of 50 votes in an entire region. So I don’t accept the premise that there won’t be any of us here next time.

“We punch above our weight in Wales and I do think that is reflected in how people view the Welsh party.”

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