An uninformed line of politicians, with the exception of David Lloyd (a GP and Plaid Cymru candidate) was meant to listen to questions on the Welsh Health Service posed by BMA members, and provide a means to tease out clear blue water between them. Some of the questions degenerated into rants, and the opportunity to hear philosophical and ideological arguments was lost. The “heat” is rising, and civil unrest may follow because all politics is local… The candidates were left in no doubt and some were “aghast” when the reality of the disenchantment and disengagement struck home to them for the first time.. I expect none of them has read the WG Green paper on health, and the BMA response.
The panel was made up of: Bob Kilminster (LibDems), Dave Boucher (Con), Frances Bryant (Green), Dan Lodge (Labour), Dai Lloyd (Plaid Cymru), with an empty chair for the UKIP cancidate (DNA). The meeting heard a short description of their party’s main themes on health, and the meeting was then open to questions. It was evident that, apart from Dr Lloyd, none of the candidates had done their homework, and all were in some form of denial.
Some general themes and comments arose. None of the candidates mentioned philosophy or ideology. All the candidates admitted after questioning, that we need to ration health care services overtly. They also implied that this was unlikely to be adopted as party policy! The dissonance between local politics, which can be honest, and national politics which is in a joint collusion of denial, could not be clearer. At the same time these candidates if they were candidates for a larger area such as Hywel Dda or South West Wales might have taken a different line on service threats and service provision when asked for a utilitarian solution(s) for West Wales
All candidates agreed that Exit interviews should be adopted on all health service staff, and the meeting accepted that trust had gone, and fear was so pre-eminent, that such interviews would have to be done by an independent body, and not by a trust or CCG. Candidates were unaware and shocked that no such interviews occur.
There were no suggestions for ideological change to help fund the current deficit and to make the books balance in the future. The BMA members might well have come away thinking that the candidates were underprepared, unread, and in particular have not read the latest WG green paper on health. Labour and Plaid and the Greens felt the Welsh NHS should be fully funded from taxation! (A denial of rationing?) whilst The Conservatives and the Liberals were more keen on encouraging patient autonomy.
No party failed to say that more money was needed. But should it come from co-payments?
Whilst demanding the return of local paediatrics (and neonatal care) and maternity, the prospective members pointed out the difficulty in recruitment to Wales and Pembrokeshire in particular. The undercapacity and poor manpower planning was stressed by Dai Lloyd. The benefits of concentrating services were acknowledged, and although several members “ranted” on without posing a question, their anger was apparent to all. There was a consensus that Pembrokeshire is treated inequitably, and that Mr Drakeford’s approach in concentrating services in Carmarthen rather than further West was illogical and would not stand scrutiny by an independent on demographics alone.
BMA Hustings Questions as prepared before the meeting. The authors only managed to ask 2 questions.
Meanwhile the dire state of an underfunded and understaffed and unpopular DGH is revealed in this weeks headlines. The result: if you have the ability and the means go privately or game the system and register in England. Doctor and Hospital related diseases (Iatrogenesis) are far less privately, where staffing levels and morale are higher. It will not sort itself out…
The County Echo 12th April: Restrictions to visiting at Withybush following infection outbreak