NHS Spending Increases

FIVE VILLAGES COLUMN

Despite the gloomy NHS news that appears regularly in some of our black-bordered newspapers, when Jane Hutt, the Welsh Assembly Government Health and Social Services Minister visited Delyn recently, she was able to show that the statistics don?t always portray the real story. Certainly, the money that is being invested in the Health Service is unprecedented. ?9 million invested has been given to increase medical training faculties in Swansea and she has promised to mirror this programme in North Wales by working on the business case to for a similar Clinical School in this area. She knows that well trained and plentiful staff will be the driving influence to turn the NHS around. The Assembly has always been fully committed to looking at problems from various angles ? the jargon is cross cutting and so its good news for Five Village folk as well as the rest of Wales now that Jane has announced a Health & Well Being Council. It?s going to make an important contribution to creating and delivering health and well being policies in Wales and its designed to listen to the communities we serve. Membership of the Council will include a broad range of interest including patient groups, voluntary sector Social care, local government and groups currently underrepresented such as those working for children, mental health issues and ethnic minorities. Meeting twice a year and open to the public, I hope the 5 Village Community will make its collective voice heard. Another good news story is the greatly increased budget to tackle drug and alcohol abuse. More for the police and more for treating prisoners released from goal are just two of the initiatives being rolled out to stem this dreadful social disease.

The listening has extended to the ongoing battle to build a new community hospital in Holywell and Jane paid it a visit as part of her tour. I know that she was impressed with the commitment of all those determined to bring this long awaited project into being. I have been promised a further discussion with her once she had looked at the business plan that is now with the Assembly. I?m not saying its going to happen next year but there is the commitment if not the cash and I shall continue to press for a definite decision before I leave the Assembly in May.

The Culture Minister has been in listening mode too and has cleared much of Clywd Theatr Cymru?s debts. I?m not absolutely convinced such generosity was brought about ?by work behind the scenes. I rather think it might have had something to do with blatant, undiplomatically fog-horning by your Assembly member as I confess I rarely miss the opportunity to ask the Cardiff centric minister to remember her friends in the North.

The Culture Committee was given a rare treat when the Lord Mayor of Cardiff, he who felt unable to open his accounts to the Auditor General came to brief us on reaching the short list for the European Capital of Culture bid. The plans are extremely challenging and 2005 is going to be the trial run for the real thing that scheduled for 2008. Cardiff is really going to throw every effort into winning this accolade and I dread to think what the ongoing work on the bid is going to cost. A production of the Tempest is being planned for Cardiff Bay. I just hope the summer months flying bug problem has been resolved as millions swarm from the water making sitting outside for Bay side properties out of bounds. I caused a furore by asking the Lord Mayor is council minutes placed on the web were an accurate record. I did not get a reply & when I asked again outside the committee room, he smoothly changed direction by saying that the Cabinet needed a member from North Wales.

The Assembly is now taking evidence for our Sports Review. Football and rugby for the male of the species is usually well represented but less so the disabled or the not very good at sport. Obesity in children is growing alarmingly and therefore finding ways of getting of the couch or computer screen and into some active sport must be a real winner for us all. If you have a view on anything to do with sport in Wales, then drop me an email or ring my office. It?s important that the widest range of opinion is canvassed and Five Village folk?s are well placed to make a meaningful contribution. 

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