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North Wales AM pledges support to improve care for the terminally ill

North Wales Lib Dem AM, Aled Roberts, has pledged to champion the concerns of local people with a terminal illness by lending his support to a Marie Curie campaign calling for the right for everyone to have palliative care when they need it.

Aled teamed up with Marie Curie Senior Health Care Assistant Tracy Tucker at Ty Hywel in Cardiff Bay on Tuesday 17th November to back the campaign from the UK’s leading charity supporting people living with any terminal illness, and their families.

Aled, said: “The work Marie Curie Nurses carry out to care for and support people living with a terminal illness is truly outstanding. I am happy to support the charity’s campaign to ensure that people who need palliative care services don’t miss out at the time when they need that care the most.”

The campaign comes as Marie Curie revealed that only half of people over the age of 50 in the Wales – of whom there are 1.2 million – are not confident that they will get the care they need towards the end of their life.

Currently, one in four people each year who need palliative care miss out on it because their needs are not recognised and they are not referred on to the right services. Marie Curie is calling on the Welsh Government to build on the good work already done to improve access to high quality palliative and end of life care for everyone with a terminal illness.

Aled has pledged to help ensure that any constituents who have a terminal illness know what services and benefits they are entitled to; and work with local NHS services to improve access to and quality of palliative care for those who need it.

In North Wales Marie Curie has over 45 Nurses operating two services to ensure that people living with a terminal illness get the care and support they need. Typically, Marie Curie Nurses provide overnight care between 10pm and 7am, while the Rapid Response service sees Nurses providing urgent care at short notice at home.

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Childcare scheme for students making progress

Welsh Government officials are currently considering contractor bids to undertake a feasibility scheme into childcare support for students.

In budget negotiations with the Welsh Government in 2014, the Welsh Liberal Democrats secured funding for a pilot scheme to support students who are parents and who are struggling with the cost of childcare.

The Welsh Government has confirmed to the Welsh Liberal Democrats that a feasibility study will shortly be launched to inform the proposed pilot in 2016-17.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats used our influence to support students who are also parents.

NUS research has shown that students who are parents are among the worst off financially. They often do not have enough money to meet basic living costs and are less likely to receive support from their families compared to other students.

In England the targeted childcare scheme ‘Care to Learn’ is available to any student parent aged under 20 at the start of their course. NUS research in England found that 77% of recipients said they could not attend learning without Care to Learn.

In our budget deal with the Welsh Government, we secured funding for a pilot study to support Welsh students who are parents. We welcome progress on this work confirmed by the Government that a feasibility study will shortly be launched to inform the proposed pilot in 2016-17. This scheme will help ensure that young parents are not held back from studying by the cost of childcare.

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People are fed up of Labour’s economic record

New figures show that Wales is the only part of the UK where average wages are decreasing.

The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings shows that average weekly wages in Wales decreased by 0.1% this year, the only region of the UK to show a decrease.

The North East of England, a region often compared to Wales, had an increase of 2%, while the UK average increased by 1.8%.

These figures confirm what we’ve suspected for a while now: the Welsh economy is suffering under Labour.

It’s no coincidence that Wales is the only part of the UK where pay packets are shrinking. Labour’s lack of economic vision is damaging our nation, and people are rightly getting fed up of it.

With some enterprise zones creating only a handful of jobs, an empty shops rate higher than anywhere else in the UK, and hardly any focus on developing the skills of our workforce, it’s no wonder that Labour is failing Wales time after time.

People want a vibrant Welsh economy with real job opportunities so they can get on in life. Welsh Liberal Democrats will create the conditions for business to thrive in Wales, creating the high-value jobs that will finally get our economy moving.

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Appalling that people are forced to wait over 2 months until cancer treatment

Figures published this week reveal that not a single health board met their target for patients diagnosed with cancer to be seen within 62 days.

The Welsh Government’s target is for at least 95% of patients diagnosed with cancer, via the urgent route, to start their definitive treatment within 62 days of their referral. Yet in Wales only 85.6% of patients were seen within that time.

Cardiff and the Vale University Health Board had the worst figures, with just 71.8% of patients being seen within 62 days.

The target of 95% of urgent patients beginning treatment within 62 days has not been met since 2008.

Being diagnosed with cancer is as incredibly stressful time for anyone. It’s appalling that, following their diagnosis, many people are being forced to wait over two months until the start of their treatment.

It’s been eight years since the target of 95% was met in Wales and we are still not seeing the improvement that is dearly needed. NHS staff are trying their best, but Labour Ministers continue to let down both staff and patients.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats will deliver an NHS that puts patients first. For too long patients’ views have been side-lined. We’ll put patients’ views front and centre to create an NHS that Wales deserves.

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Slash VAT on tourism to support business and enterprise

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have week hosted a debate in the National Assembly calling for VAT to be reduced from 20 per cent to 5 per cent on hotels and holiday attractions to boost the tourism industry.

This is part of a Liberal Democrat plan to make Wales and the UK more attractive as a holiday destination and to create a jobs revolution in the sector. It means the UK would follow the lead of 25 out of 28 EU member states who have cut VAT on tourist accommodation and attractions.

The World Economic Forum places Britain in 140th place for price competitiveness for tourism, out of 141 countries.

The rate of VAT on visitor accommodation (e.g. hotels) and admissions to cultural services in France and Germany is 7%, in Spain 8% and Italy 10%, compared to 20% in the UK.

A 15% cut in tourism VAT could become revenue-neutral and result in an increased tax take of £3.9 billion over 10 years, delivering a £4 billion boost per year to the gross domestic product, according to research by Nevin Associates. [1][2]

Supporting the sector could generate 80,000 new jobs across the UK over three years and 120,000 over 10 years , according to research by Nevin Associates, particularly for young people and those with low skills

The Welsh Liberal Democrats will always support business and enterprise, which is why we are campaigning for the reduction of VAT on tourism.

Local hotels, B&Bs and our holiday hotspots are the backbone of the Welsh economy and they need more help and support.

The UK’s current rate of 20% is almost twice the European average which undermines competitiveness against countries with lower rates of VAT. It is simply madness to allow our local businesses have to compete at such a disadvantage.

Over 170,000 people in Wales rely on the tourism industry for their employment. The Liberal Democrats would support this sector, create more jobs and continue to showcase the best of Wales.

We are hosting this debate as we want all parties in the Assembly to unite on this issue to send a clear message to the UK Government that this is a priority for businesses in Wales.

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Mental health waits bring Labour’s ability to deliver new targets into question

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have questioned Labour’s ability to deliver on their new mental health targets, as new figures show a large increase in the number of young people waiting over the target time for specialist treatment.

Statistics released last week show an 11% increase over a month in the number of patients for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) who are waiting more than the target 16 weeks to begin their treatment.

1,766 patients had been waiting more than 16 weeks as of September 2015, 185 more than in August. The number is 55% of all those currently waiting for CAMHS treatment, a rate which is also increasing.

The Welsh Government’s cutting of waiting time targets for local primary mental health services doesn’t apply to CAMHS treatment, whose patients will still be subject to the longer 16 week (112 day) target.

Labour like to trumpet their ‘success’ with mental health, when the reality is rather different. Under their watch, specialist mental health services for children and young people are reaching crisis point.

Too many children are being unnecessarily referred into the service, which means many of the thousands on this waiting list don’t even need to be there. This clogs up the service for the young people who have genuine mental ill health and need treatment.

Labour Ministers are aware of this issue – in fact, they regularly use it as an excuse for such long waiting times. Yet Labour conveniently forget that they are the ones stewarding our NHS, and responsible for putting this problem right.

“The fact that Labour Ministers have failed to act to fix this relatively simple problem brings into question their ability to implement more stringent mental health targets. An idea is one thing, but putting it into action is another challenge – one I’m not confident Labour can meet.

People rightly deserve speedy treatment for any mental health condition, but they’re not getting it in Labour’s Wales. That’s why mental healthcare is front and centre of the Welsh Liberal Democrat plan for the NHS, giving it the attention and resources it deserves.

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