Sunday, June 02, 2013

Can someone explain to Labour’s elected members what is going on?

I know the whole political scene, devolution and everything is sometimes a bit difficult for the average man / woman in the street to grasp, often made none the easier by the media.  However, you’d think that elected members would have some sort of grasp of what is happening.  In the case of the Labour party locally at least it certainly doesn’t seem that way.

In recent days with the furore surrounding the health service reorganisation several have left me wondering whether they have any idea at all what is really going on or what the reasons around it are.  It seems that not only do they not communicate within the Labour party, but some are too disinterested to even read up on subjects which are of vital importance to many of those they represent.

As a result not only are they unable to make any credible case for not cutting services, but they  end up spreading misinformation amongst the public which does nothing to help the cause.

Take the report in the Wales on Sunday today about the rally in Pontypridd yesterday.  There is a quote from a Labour Councillor, Tina Leyshon, who is certainly no newcomer to the world of local politics. She says

“Everyone knows someone who’s been to this hospital. Really, it’s nothing to do with politics. It’s so important that we get out and show our support for our local hospital.  I think national health needs to make cuts but they need to look at it wisely and make cuts that are safe. Taking money away from services like A&E is not the way to do it.”

Now first off it is of course everything to do with politics – who does she think governs the Health Service – the tooth fairy? The decision to reorganise services is a political one, and it is the Labour Health Minister who will have the final say.  Political decisions affect how money is spent and on what. 

More importantly this is not about cuts – although cuts could certainly be made on the management side.  It has been very clearly stated that the reorganisation is about staff shortages and clinical safety, not money.  The reorganisation in fact with cost money.  Her colleagues in the Welsh Government are not taking money away from these services.  That is not their failure; their failure has been in not addressing staff shortages which have been apparent for years, and in not addressing the very real concerns about the Health Service in Wales.

Of course in some ways she could be forgiven for being confused – after all the Labour MP for Pontypridd has been peddling the sameline, although of course he has been adding in the well-worn phrase about it being all the fault of the UK Government  (y…a…w…n)

Leighton Andrews added to the misinformation, being quoted on Wales Online as saying that

“It could take hours and several bus changes” for people in Rhondda to reach Bridgend’s Princess of Wales Hospital or Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr. In practice, people would go to Cardiff and that would lead to congestion at the University Hospital of Wales,”

This is of course complete nonsense, because the people who would be accessing the severe trauma services they are talking Labour centralising would be travelling there by ambulance and not have a choice about where they were taken.  Yes transferring services would make it more difficult for patients’ visitors, but there would still be no choice involved.

Then we have Chris Bryant.MP for the Rhondda adding his thoughts.  Well, they are in his name anyway, although they don’t quite gel with what he has said elsewhere.

According to a piece on Slick’s blog,

Rhondda Labour MP Chris Bryant said: “The A&E at the Royal Glamorgan is an essential service to the people of the Rhondda. When you are severely ill and requiring urgent medical attention, you want to receive the best care as quickly as possible – I hope that the health board will see sense and realise that closing an accident and emergency unit at a hospital that is only 13 years old and accessible to both the communities in the Rhondda and Pontypridd is not the best use of NHS resources.”

Now when Chris came along to a campaign meeting last Thursday he said that care should be taken to ensure that the correct facts were put out to the public.  That the consultation only spoke of certain critical care services – something that RCT Welsh Lib Dems have been keen to point out all along.  Why then is he quoted talking about “closing an accident and emergency department?”

They really should take more care about what is being put out in their names.  Maybe the same staff are writing their press releases as put together their campaign website referring to them as “your Labour representitives”  - a Freudian slip some may say.

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