Lib Dem to extend 'More Nurses Bill' in next Assembly

The Welsh Liberal Democrats would extend the More Nurses Bill to include mental health wards, maternity wards and community nurses, Kirsty Williams AM has announced today (Monday 21 March ).

 

At a ceremony in Cardiff on Monday,the More Nurses Bill (also known as Nurse Staffing Levels Bill) will receive its seal of approval to become law.  This will make Wales the first part of Europe with a legal duty to have sufficient nurse staffing levels on acute hospital wards.  To build on this success, Kirsty Williams, has said that her party would extend the reach of this law to include other specialties, including mental health wards, maternity wards and community nurses.

 

Ahead of the Assembly election, this will be the Welsh Liberal Democrats number one pledge on the NHS and forms part of the party’s three point plan for a better health service: More Nurses, better access to your GP, and improved mental health services.

 

The More Nurses Bill was a Private Members Bill, proposed by Kirsty Williams, which was first drawn out of a ballot in 2013.  Assembly Members voted in favour of the Bill last month.

 

Speaking ahead of a visit to the University Hospital of Wales, Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:

 

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats will make Wales a world leader for patient care. 

 

“Our bill, which becomes law today, will deliver more nurses on acute hospital wards.  The Welsh Liberal Democrats have ensured that Wales becomes the first part of Europe with a legal duty for staffing levels. We will build on this success by extending the law to include mental health wards, maternity wards, and community nurses.

 

“In the forthcoming election, the Welsh Liberal Democrats will show that we have listened to people’s concerns. We all want NHS staff to have the time to care for our loved ones, which is why the Welsh Liberal Democrats will deliver safe staffing levels across the NHS.  We’ll put more nurses in our hospitals and in our communities to deliver an NHS that works for you.”

 


GPs against Tory and UKIP NHS plans

“Yet more people who don’t know what they’re talking about” – GP on Tory NHS policy

GPs across Wales have given a resounding message that the Conservative and UKIP policy to have elected Health Commissioners run Wales’ NHS would be a disaster for patients.

In November, Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, wrote to over 650 GP surgeries in Wales asking their views; 21% of GP surgeries responded.

One question asked whether they would support a policy for directly elected health commissioners which would bring greater political influence into the NHS. 69% of GPs would not support this, with just 18% in support of the policy.

Responses to the Conservative’s policy included:

  • “Yet another layer of bureaucracy”
  • “Another quango”
  • “We need less political influence, not more”
  • “A disaster”
  • “Waste of money, the police commissioners are a waste of time”
  • “We need to remove politics from the NHS”


Veronica German, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Candidate for South Wales East, said:
“The response from GPs is resounding: the Tories’ plans would be a disaster for patients acoss South Wales East.

“It’s utter madness to think that a load of elected politicians should be running our local health services. We need less politics in our NHS, not more.

“This ill thought out Tory policy would cost our NHS the equivalent of 220 nurses. This is in stark contrast to the Welsh Liberal Democrats who want more nurses on our hospital wards.

“Welsh Liberal Democrats have been calling for a cross-party and no-party commission to stop our NHS being treated like a political football and finally work towards solving some of these problems. It’s a shame that Plaid and the Tories are unwilling put patients before politics and take part in such a commission.”


Illiberal Labour wrong to try and ban e-cigs

Kirsty Williams AM has slammed the Labour government for trying to ban the use of e-cigarettes despite evidence saying this could harm public health.

 

Plaid Cymru Assembly Members decided to vote against Labour’s legislation as they were offended by the Public Services Minister calling them a “cheap date”.

Commenting, Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:

“This is a decision that will affect thousands of people, yet Plaid decided to vote based on whether they were a ‘cheap date’ or not.  While that is utterly bizarre and somewhat farcical, I of course welcome their u-turn.

“We have given Labour a bloody nose, however the battle is not over yet. For starters, Plaid now need to pledge they won’t vote for this illiberal piece of legislation if it were ever to appear in the Assembly again.

“Labour’s illiberal plan flies in the face of medical evidence.  E-cigarettes are a useful way for smokers to give up on tobacco and there is no doubt they have saved lives.  It’s disgraceful that Labour and Plaid have ganged up to ban the use of them. 

“This law would have sent the wrong signal that e-cigarettes are as bad for your health as normal cigarettes.  That simply isn’t the case.

“Welsh Liberal Democrats have led opposition to this ill-thought out ban on the back of the large body of evidence suggesting it could do more harm than good. When you’ve got a whole host of experts and charities like Cancer Research UK against you, you should realise you’re on the wrong side of the argument.”


We'll make it easier and quicker to see a GP

Patients would be guaranteed prompt appointments with their GP under the Welsh Liberal Democrats’ plans.

Highlighting a key policy ahead of the Assembly elections, Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said her party would introduce a fully funded Access to GPs scheme which will guarantee prompt appointments and extend opening hours where needed.

Under the Welsh Liberal Democrats’ plans, GP practices would be able to bid for funding to improve access however they feel best.  The party would initially allocate £10 million in support of the fund.  The bidding process would be overseen by NHS Wales, who would assess applications.  The party would ensure that schemes which offer the most innovative services and which can be best replicated would be targeted for support, in order to spread best practice.

This is the third part of the Welsh Liberal Democrats’ 3 point plan for the NHS, which also includes safe staffing levels and better mental health services.

Veronica German, Lead Candidate for South Wales East said:

“Time and time again we hear of how people struggle to get an appointment with their GP. 

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats will guarantee the best treatment at the right time to meet every patient’s needs.

“We’ll invest in an Access to GPs scheme to ensure prompt appointments and extend GP opening hours to evenings and weekends where there is a local need.

 “People want to be able to access their GP when it’s convenient for them.  For too long, patients’ views have been side-lined. 

 “After 17 years in office, the Labour government still fails to get the basics right on our public services. Our plans put patients’ views front and centre so that we will deliver a NHS that works for you.”

 


3 Point plan to fix housing crisis

 

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are the only party with the fresh ideas to tackle Wales’ housing crisis, Peter Black AM said today as he launched his party’s 3 point housing plan.

 

Peter Black announced that the Welsh Liberal Democrats would:

  • double the target on affordable homes to 20,000 over the next Assembly
  • introduce a rent-to-own scheme to help first time buyers to buy their own home without a deposit;
  • an act to improve the quality and safety of homes in the private rented sector and empower the Residential Property Tribunal to adjudicate on landlord and tenant disputes.

 Peter Black AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Housing, said:

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats are the only party in Wales with the ambition and fresh ideas to tackle Wales’ housing crisis.

“As is often the case, we see the two main parties fighting over ideological dogma: the Tories want to bring back Right to Buy, Labour wants to end it.  Neither party has meaningful proposals that would actually make a real difference.  

“Wales needs a government that will invest in a house building programme so everyone can have a roof over their heads. 

Veronica German, Lead Candidate for South Wales East added:

“Housing is important to the Welsh Liberal Democrats because we believe in supporting people’s ambition.

“Every person should be able to provide a secure environment for their family – that is our aim and that is what we’d deliver by doubling the target on affordable homes.

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats would introduce a scheme to help people in Wales get on the housing ladder by buying their own home without a deposit. 

“This is about ambition and fairness.  Under our proposals, it doesn’t matter what your background or family circumstance is, if you can afford your rent then we will help you to own your home – something nearly everyone dreams of.”


Labour in disarray over M4 proposals

The Labour party is in “complete disarray” over its M4 plans, said Veronica German after the First Minister sacked a Labour AM as a committee chair after she spoke out against the plans.

Jenny Rathbone said an "unhealthy culture" at the top of the government stopped AMs from speaking out on issues.  Another AM and former Minister Alun Davies has said he's disappointed at the sacking and that Labour AMs should be “free to debate these matters”.  Labour’s Deputy Leader of Flintshire Council has also called for a vote of no confidence for the First Minister.

Last year the Welsh Liberal Democrats secured an agreement with the Welsh Government that “no construction of an M4 relief road would start before the next Assembly elections.”

Veronica German, Welsh Liberal Democrat Lead Candidate for South Wales East said:

“For members to break ranks now shows how desperate Welsh Labour are becoming.  There must be an election coming, as never in the past 4 years has she spoken out against Labour’s disastrous running of our health service, our schools or Cardiff Council.

“The Labour party is in complete disarray. They long have had a culture of stifling debate and avoiding scrutiny and this has clearly caused resentment.

“The chances of the Welsh Government ever getting a strong enough majority to force through its plans are slim to none.  It’s time the Government accepted this.

“In budget negotiations, the Welsh Liberal Democrats used our influence to ensure that no construction of the M4 relief road will start before the next Assembly elections and that a detailed Environmental Impact Study into the project will be commissioned.

“Our proposed alternative is less expensive, less likely to damage vast swathes of our environment and academically recommended. It will invest in public transport, not just tarmac, and reduce congestion by taking cars off the road.

“It’s for all these reasons that we ensured no final construction contracts would be awarded this side of the Assembly election, meaning the entire project can still be scrapped by the next Welsh Government.”

 

 

NOTES

 

The wording of the budget agreement secured by the Welsh Liberal Democrats includes:

 

The Welsh Government has made a decision to use some of its borrowing powers to build an M4 relief road around Newport (borrowing powers will also be used to fund infrastructure investment in North, Mid and West Wales) and a preferred route has been identified. However the Welsh Government recognises the objections and concerns about aspects of the plan.

Both parties have agreed that no construction of an M4 relief road would start before the next Assembly elections.

They have also agreed with the Welsh Liberal Democrats to commission a detailed Environmental Impact Study on the Welsh Government preferred route before any detailed design work begins. The Welsh Government maintains that they are open to reviewing their position dependent on the outcome of the study and any public inquiry. Both will be considered in detail before deciding how to proceed.

 

 

 

 

'Shocking' state of Welsh mental health services

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for urgent action as a Welsh Government report has revealed the shortfalls of Wales’ mental health services.

The report, which reviews inequalities of access to health services for those with disabilities, finds shortcomings in many areas of Welsh mental health services. It highlights, among other concerns:

  • a lack of specific mental health training for healthcare staff;
  • that spending on mental health services isn’t keeping pace with the expected increase in prevalence of mental health conditions
  • that 23% of all suicides in Wales were ‘patient suicides’ who’d made contact with the NHS within 12 months of their death;
  • that there is still widespread misinformation and stigma attached to mental health conditions which prevents treatment being sought, in particular among men
  • an imbalance of suicide rates between men and women, with male depression under-reported within the Welsh NHS

 

Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:

“As I was reading this damning report, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I just don’t understand how Labour Ministers have allowed our mental health services to deteriorate to this point.

“Labour’s own targets for reducing suicide rates have been missed. The provision of specially trained mental health staff is ‘sporadic’. Spending on mental health services isn’t keeping pace with an increase in demand. Labour’s catalogue of failures on mental health is quite simply shocking.

“Welsh Liberal Democrats have put mental health front and centre of our plan for the NHS because Labour’s grave failings that affect so many of us cannot be allowed to continue. We can, and must, do better than this.

“Until anyone with mental ill health can seek and get treatment without delay or fear of discrimination, we will not have parity of esteem with physical health within our NHS. That is the ambition that Welsh Lib Dems have for mental health services in Wales.”

DIWEDD / END

Notes

The report and a summary can be found at: http://gov.wales/statistics-and-research/review-evidence-inequalities-access-health-services-wales/?lang=en


Welsh Lib Dems' bus discount scheme for young people

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Welsh Liberal Democrats have welcomed the launch of Wales’ new ‘mytravelpass’ bus discount pass for young travellers.  The party secured £14.75m to implement their policy in a recent budget deal with the Welsh Government.  The scheme provides a third off bus travel across Wales for all young people aged 16-18 living in Wales and will benefit over 24,500 young people across the South Wales East region

 

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Tory leader must condemn MP's refugee comments - say Lib Dems

The Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats has called on the Welsh Conservative Leader to distance himself from the “appalling” comments of a Tory MP regarding the refugee crisis.

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales earlier this week, Monomuth MP David TC Davies claimed that those seeking sanctuary were “mostly young men, mostly with mobile phones, who are chancing their luck.” The following day, UK newspapers were filled with pictures of a drowned 3 year old boy being carried from a beach.

David Davies also claimed that refugees were making an “economic decision” to travel to the UK. His remarks are in stark contrast to those of Andrew RT Davies, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, who has called for more to be done to help the refugees. 

Welsh Lib Dem Leader Kirsty Williams has called on the Welsh Conservative Leader to publicly distance himself from the comments of his MP.

Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:

“I welcome Andrew joining the political consensus here in Wales that we need to do so much more to help those seeking sanctuary on our shores. Unfortunately some of his own MPs, and his own party’s Government, don’t seem to agree.

 “David Davies’ comments were absolutely appalling. Claiming that these refugees are making ‘economic choices’ to flee from war-stricken countries feeds the unfair stereotyping of asylum seekers and completely misses the point.

 “I fail to see how anyone can hear these stories and see these images, and not want to reach out to help. It’s not good enough to turn our backs on the rest of the world – we must do more to help those seeking sanctuary in our country.

“I hope Andrew will choose to publicly condemn David Davies’ remarks.”

Kirsty’s calls come as Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron MP has requested an urgent debate in the House of Commons on the refugee crisis.

 

Tim Farron, who recently became the only party leader to visit a refugee camp in Calais, has demanded a debate on the government's handling of the issue and believes the UK should be doing more to help thousands of refugees arriving in Europe every week.

The Lib Dems submitted an urgent question on Wednesday afternoon calling for a House of Commons debate.

Tim Farron MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, said:

“Our party has taken the lead in highlighting this problem and we have asked for a debate in Parliament to raise the issue and hold the government to account.  

“We can and must do more with our EU partners to tackle the problem. This is a humanitarian crisis which shames our country. We must step up to the plate to tackle it.