21/10/2012 The Wales Report


Huw Edwards takes a look at issues that matter in Wales. In this edition, an overview of the NHS in Wales, and examining whether tribal loyalties in Welsh rugby have ended.

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 21/10/2012. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



On The Wales Report tonight, it is your health service but what is


happening to it? Drastic changes on the way and for some it really is a


matter of life and death. Also tonight, unemployment is


falling but we are still in recession. What is going on with


the Welsh economy and are we getting a fair deal?


Clubs in crisis, why one of our great Welsh institutions faces a


bleak future. One man wants to have his say. I love the raw, crude


devotion of Welsh club rugby. Mr Butler is a man with a message.


Stay with us to find out why. Welcome to you all and thank you


for tuning in. This is the first edition of The Wales Report, the


new weekly meeting place where we will be talking about Wales and the


things that really matter to the people that live in Wales. We will


be looking at what life in all its diversity and asking searching


questions about our future. We will be talking to those making


decisions and the people whose lives are affected by them. And yes,


it does mean politics, that is essential, but The Wales Report is


about more than that. It has to be otherwise you will not be getting


the big picture that we have promised to you. Anything is


possible, just about, and we will be depending on you to tell us what


matters in your part of Wales. We are going to start with the biggest


changes to the biggest organisation with the biggest implications


anywhere in Wales. The NHS is going to change. It is under huge


financial pressure. There is a big consultation under way but parts of


the system are already under immense strain. If you listen to


some experts, they say that lives are clearly at risk. David Williams


has been investigating for the first The Wales Report.


It may look real enough, but this is in fact a film set for a


hospital drama. All sorts of things are enacted here. Art imitating


life, you might think. But out there beyond this make-believe,


there is a real-life drama unfolding and the consequences for


all of us could be far-reaching. Every individual page and believes


that he or she has the right to a universal service. -- individual


patient. And an equal chance of survival, irrespective of which


hospital they are admitted to. But you will be shocked to learn that


your chance of buying it was hospitals increases if you are


admitted at weekends compared to weekdays. -- chance of dying. Life


is often far more complicated than art, and death is for real.


For more than two years, Paul has dedicated himself to a task which


has gradually consumed him. The inquiry into the circumstances of


the death of his wife Janet at the local hospital, the Royal Glamorgan.


She had been suffering from cancer but she was rushed to hospital


early one Sunday morning over two years ago, suffering from severe


abdominal pains. We were there for three-and-a-half hours. They put us


in cubicle number 10, where they closed the door and left us.


Because of the pain factor, it was 10 out of 10, the highest pain


factor that you can get. She literally was crawling up the walls.


That is how bad she was. Janet died the following day from the cancer


that she was suffering from. And from an overwhelming infection, due


to her body's lack of resistance to that infection. She was 65. Her


husband's determination to pursue the events surrounding his wife's


death has had some success. An ombudsman's report, which uphold


the complaint, that Janet should have been given a higher priority


in hospital on the weekend that she was admitted, given her severe


abdominal pain. Death is still a taboo subject. Little wonder then


that the mortality figures for Welsh hospitals remain largely out


of sight of the public. But they do exist, and if you do know where to


look, they make for uncomfortable reading. They show quite clearly


that you are much more likely to die in was hospital at the weekend


than and any weekday. -- in a Welsh hospital. They are just a snapshot


but they clearly show a worrying increase in hospital death shops


during the week. These rates gradually increase during the week


and reach the high point at weekends. Sunday in particular. You


are much more likely to die than on a weekday in hospital. Professor


markers Longley has been commissioned by the health boards


in Wales to advise them on how to improve their health service. We


asked him why it more people are dying at weekends in hospital.


There are a number of reasons for that, as always. There is no one


single answer. It is partly to do with the availability of senior


medical staff. They are not always available at the right time. It is


the way services are arranged in various hospitals. A variety of


reasons, some of which to do with the overall configuration of the


health service and some much more local than that. But Government


recognises that keeping things as they are is not on option. They


have seemingly decided to take the bold step of driving hard for what


they call a world-class service. Except the Welsh Government is not


exactly to be found at the front line of what it knows will be a


difficult campaign. Instead, they have passed that responsibility to


Wales's seven health boards. Their plans include the closure of some


community hospitals, the reduction of services at others, greater care


provision in the community, and the development of centres of


excellence. They are widely regarded as political speak for


greater centralisation. We are at a watershed in our socio-economic


history and we have to radically we considered the way that we provide


public services. I start would be looking at the current


unsustainable mix of hospitals that we have been South Wales. This


professor is a leading health economist. Together with Dr


Christopher Potter, the former Director of Public Health, they


prepared a special report on the health service for this programme.


While that report recognises that a lot of good health care is


delivered in Wales, it also identifies a number of weaknesses.


The professor expresses concern at the proposed changes, that they


have not been properly costed. we are talking about at the moment


is very much a blueprint, a vision. We do not know what the cost


implications of these proposed changes will be and we do not know


if it is affordable. The need for reforming the health service in


Wales, however that is achieved and at what cost, is a tough message to


take anywhere in Wales. Every area, every group is -- has established a


stake in their health service. Here they are challenging the plans to


close the minor injuries unit at the X-ray department at the


community hospital. Confronting this group of protective health


custodians with the arguments for change are likely to go down well


at the local pub. But we risk the round anyway. Can I played devil's


advocate? Do you accept that the service is not fit for purpose


anymore? The Community Health Council, a watchdog, is saying that


the minor injuries unit does not get much use. You hear about


community led health care. How can you have that if they close all of


the community hospitals and wards? Give us the evidence, the rationale,


and if we can understand and digest it, we will work with it. At the


moment we are not getting that and until we do, the people will not


sit down. They should Prosser's stations are reinforced by the


concerns of clinicians and nursing staff. -- patient protestations. In


Cardiff, the director of the Royal College of Nursing are -- is


grappling with the proposed changes. I do not know if health boards are


being set up to fail. There is another difficulty. The difficulty


in discussing the concerns with the health minister. I have met with


the health minister wants. Don't you think you should have dialogue


with the health minister? I think it is getting increasingly


difficult to have regular conversations with the health


minister. Why? I have no idea. Professor Longleat cause to Ferrari


earlier this year when it was disclosed that he had emailed civil


servants asking for killer facts to support his argument. -- Professor


Longleat caused an uproar. He is resolute that the case for change


is strong. The danger is that we postpone some of these things that


the evidence points clearly to. We will fight it and gain some time


but we will not have solved the fundamental problem. We will be


back where we are now in a year or two. That is a shame because bits


of the service will just collapse because there will not be key staff


available and that is very risky. If you have an unplanned closure of


a service, that is worse than planned closures. As the arguments


about the future of the health service swirl around him, one man


is more concerned about the immediate and current dangers to


patients admitted to hospitals at weekends. As we are talking now,


there is something happening somewhere in another hospital to


your grandchildren, to your mother, to your father, where the system


then says, oh, sorry. That report by David Williams.


Joining me from Wrexham is a health minister for Wales. Thank you for


joining us, the first guest on The Wales Report. We are pleased to


have you with us. There was an idea that you are running scared of some


of these stakeholders. Is that right? Absolutely not. I have


several meetings every week with stakeholders. Or importantly, I am


out in health care settings every week talking to staff on the front


line. When are you meeting with the Royal College of Nursing next?


will have to check my diary. Is it fair for her to suggest it is


difficult to get meetings with you? I do not think it is difficult to


get meetings with me. Over the weekend I have been answering a


written question to a member and I was shocked at how many meetings I


have. I wonder that I have time to get out and about but it is


important that I am, meeting frontline staff. As someone that


were done the NHS for 20 years, I have lots of friends in the NHS and


we know they are the best sort of friends. -- as someone that worked


in the NHS. We do not envy the pressure that two or under. Is this


about reforming quality of service or saving money? Both things cannot


be possible, surely? It is about rebalancing and modernising our


services. The reason why we have to change the NHS in Wales has been


very well articulated over many years. You can go back 10 years,


and you can hear that Professor in your report saying the same thing


now. Why it is the health service in Wales taking the bigot -- why is


the health service in Wales taking a bigger proportion of cuts than


England? We cannot compare to England. The figures are there.


They brought yardsticks, that give us a sense of the kind of cuts you


want to make. I absolutely not. My department has 42% of the entire


was Government budget. �6.3 billion. We have protected the health budget.


We have huge sums of money to work with. We increased the money last


year, giving additional funding over three years, so financial


plans could be on a stable setting. I understand the sensitivity


because of your role on commenting on precise plans in local areas,


but there is a lot of sensitivity around about the plans that could


come into effect. Let's talk hypothetically. If I am in an area


with the full casualty unit in a town with many thousands of people,


and someone proposes to change that to a local Accident Centre, I might


be very concerned about those plans. What do you say to those people?


People are incredibly concerned about plans and that is why I was


adamant that health boards had to consult widely. That is being done


in North Wales. They are coming to the end of the consultation there,


and in West Wales as well. The South Wales are out to public


engagement at the present time and will go out to consultation in the


new year. Nothing has been set in stone and people must realise that


their input is extremely important as those plans come to the end of


the consultation period. Minister, I am sure we will talk again in the


months ahead but thank you for talking to us. There will be plenty


of opinions on that and when we returned to it, we will be


reflecting your opinions because The Wales Report depends on your


willingness to let us know what matters to you. Our reporter will


be gathering your opinions every week, making sense of them. How


healthy is the social need to work in Wales as far as politics is


concerned? Pretty healthy. We hear about the democratic deficit pretty


often in Wales. This is one way of starting to put some part of that


right at least. It is a way of making sure that you know what


people are saying, how they feel about interviews, the answers


politicians get. We might hear them and think that the public will not


for -- fall for it, and you find out on Twitter pretty soon. All of


that is important. We want questions, comments and responses


to this programme, that is very important. How can people get in


touch? If people want to get on Twitter, then it is: There is also


I will not repeat everything that comes in, but opinions that are


worth hearing and when people tell us how things are in their patch


and we may not be aware of this, we will talk about that. People have


precise questions for people they know we're into the ring, we would


welcome that? Yes, and sometimes I would say, I am going interview so-


and-so, what would you like to know? That is what we are there to


do, to ask ministers what the voters want to know.


It has been an odd experience reporting this month that we are


still in recession and yet unemployment is falling, the number


of people in full-time and part- time workers at a record high. It


is a curious situation baffling some of the best economists. But


the challenge of reducing the deficit and boosting economic


growth is no less urgent. This was the message around the Cabinet


table recently. Every department around this table


is actually involved in an effort to deal with getting the deficit


down and the economy moving. One of those sitting around the


table, we caught a little glimpse of him, David Jones, the new


Secretary of State for Wales. Are you enjoying the job? Yes. It is


challenging and has been extremely fast-moving, but overall it has


been a good three or four weeks. You were given very precise orders


by the Prime Minister, what have you done? The economy is the name


of the game, we have worked very hard. The first visit I paid after


I became Secretary of State was to end area of crucial importance to


the North Wales economy. We are doing all we can to ensure that it


is built, it is of tremendous importance. We are working in --


closely with the Welsh government. Economic development is devolved,


but lots of areas are not. It will only work if the UK and Welsh


governments work together. Is it a warm and friendly relationship were


just a business relationship? both. It is a good relationship, I


think I have a good relationship with Carwyn Jones, I have known him


for many years because I was an Assembly member. I have had a


couple of meetings with him already, we have done some joint working on


certain projects so it is working well. Because the word is you are


not a great fan of devolution? is the word put out by Labour in


the Commons. The is it not true? They need a line of attack...


could be true? Back in 1997, I campaigned, as did the Conservative


Party, against the establishment of the Assembly? Have you changed your


mind? Yes, it is a fact of life, it is the way Wales has governed and


we have to work for the best of wealth. Has it produced good


results? One or two... Such as? think the Welsh Language


Commissioner... Forgive me, the Welsh Language Commission and the


Children's Commissioner are extremely important. Some resorts


have not been so good and economically Wales has not done too


well since devolution. I think getting red of the Welsh


Development Agency was a huge mistake. -- getting rid of. Such an


emphasis on the deficit and dealing with that because it is a big, big


burden. His Wales bearing a heavier burden than it should be given that


lots of the cuts in benefits and welfare are really affecting


hundreds of thousands of people in Wales? Is that fair? The Welsh


Assembly Government has done rather well out of the CSR settlement. I


think when you look at the Welsh Assembly Government budget and


compare it with Whitehall spending in departments, I think it has been


a fair settlement. At the moment we are seeing the rebalancing of the


Welsh economy. Wells has been very heavily dependent upon the public


sector. It is now becoming less dependent, we are seeing more


private sector jobs being created in Wales. In the last set of


figures last week, Wales was the region of the United Kingdom doing


best in the terms of job creation, I think it is working. The burden,


I am interested in who was bearing the biggest burden. Everybody has


to play a part, we are all in it together and all the rest, even if


that is not true, that is the message. But you asking people who


are, in many cases, very vulnerable, on low income, dependent on


disability -- dependent on benefits, some with disabilities, you're


asking them to contribute. But we know companies like Starbucks and


in some cases IKEA, eBay and Amazon are not paying their fair share of


Corporation Tax. Have you got the balance right? Are you asking


people properly capable of paying to do the right thing? If you are


comparing chalk and cheese. It is a contribution. Companies like


Starbucks should be paying a foul- up of tax, the Chancellor has made


it clear that aggressive tax avoidance measures will be targeted.


But by the same token it is very important that people who maybe


have been out of work for very many years should be encouraged to going


to work, because work is good not only in economic terms but also for


social well-being and self-respect. I believe that programmes like the


work programme is doing a tremendous amount to get people


into work. I have seen these programmes and they are very


effective. You are happy, or satisfied, if I can put it that way,


that, for example, people in Wales on very low incomes, dependent on


benefits, hundreds of thousands of them, are not being asked to pay an


unfair price? I believe they are not. I believe the support they are


getting to get into work is something the Government is taking


very, very seriously. The DWP is working hard to ensure as many


people as possible can get back into work. It will clearly be a


painful process, but nevertheless... You would know better than I do, it


is one of the things people used to say that you are maybe not really


in touch with the real world. Really sensing what is going on in


people's lives. Again, I your concern that your image as a


government is one of people not being quite in touch? They're not


in touch message is put out by Labour, straightforward propaganda.


I think any constituency MP is very, very firmly in touch. I am a


constituency MP, I go back there every Thursday evening and see


people with all sorts of problems. I don't buy the message from Labour


that we are not in touch. Labour to one side, was Andrew


Mitchell in touch when he abused the police constable? Andrew


Mitchell did the right thing, he made an assessment of his


position... It to come four weeks. Was he a bit slow to make the


assessment? That is a matter of Andrew Mitchell. It sounds like you


think so. That is a matter for him, but he assess the level of support


he had within the parliamentary Conservatives apart -- party, he


decided he did not have the right level of support. Did you advise


him to go? You didn't feed your thoughts in? I did not speak to him.


That is a matter for Andrew Mitchell himself. Andrew Mitchell


made the right decision, Andrew Mitchell has resigned. Now we have


Sir George Young as the new Chief Whip, I am sure he will command


respect of the parliamentary Conservative Party.


It is not just the Government struggling with debt, the financial


climate is affecting so many areas of Welsh life and one of our best-


loved institutions is one of them, the local rugby team. The new


regional Welsh rugby structure is looking a bit shaky. Crowds have


dwindled and local games are not pulling in the masses. Who or what


is to blame? Here is the former Wales and Pontypool captain, Eddie


Butler - and he is on a personal crusade.


Way back, before I began to change it, one of the great mum if -- won


much if -- there was a greater derby match. In front of a full


house, the captains would meet and shake hands and the referee would


say, well, gentlemen, what is it to be today, rugby or fighting?


Without question they would reply, it will be rugby. And with that


small matter settled, they would get on with the fighting.


Rugby nowadays is all the better for not so easily spilling over.


But does modern regional rugby have any soul?


There is a harsh reality in 2012. This is now more of a football town


than rugby, in Pontypool, rugby hangs on by eight thread. Fighting


and losing. Even Pontypridd are out of the main strip, clinging to a


thread of their own, dreaming of rekindling valleys would be through


a 5th region. Llanelli they have on, geographically blessed by being


south of the M4. North of the motorway, rugby suppers. South, the


homes of the five professional regions. Five, are you say? There


is the 5th, the ultimate region - a To pay for professional rugby in


Wales, Wales have to play more than ever before. A minimum of a dozen


games a year. Their home is a stadium that can hold nearly 75,000,


more people can watch more international rugby than ever


before. Wales are our local team - and very good they are, too. Three


plants -- Grand Slams in eight seasons.


Transformation at the very top and everywhere below left to do what?


The regions are desperate for more money just to be competitive in


Europe, but the benefactors are withdrawing. Tony Brown of the


Dragons, Mike Cuddy at the Ospreys. It would appear the regions do not


touch our soul. So what can we do? At club level, I'd have a 16 team


league, hopefully including Pontypool, playing under lights on


midweek nights. I would put the development players from south of


the M4 into this floodlit league, to show they can cope with Welsh


club rugby at its most devoted. That would free up rugby lovers to


go and watch the regions on the weekend. Put much-needed money


through the turnstiles. Well, it is a plan.


Would it make any difference? Does anything at all have to be done as


long as wells are winning Grand Slams? Perhaps not? But you don't


have to be a structural engineer to know that if you load the top and


weaken the bottom, even the mightiest of towers can for with a


crash. For me, this is what Welsh rugby is all about. But it appears


I am old and out of touch, as Roger Lewis of the Welsh Rugby Union


would put it, I am a little bit lost in action. But I love rugby


where the sun does not shine. It shines on the southernmost Strip,


Roger's Riviera rugby. It sparkles, Another winning performance from


Eddie Butler, proving that the Wales Report is about opinions,


Huw Edwards asks the questions that matter to you about your job, your health, your future. Confronting decision-makers with the consequences of their choices, and each week David Williams will be investigating the reality of living in modern Wales.

This week, the NHS in Wales - a suitable case for treatment? And is it really the end of tribal loyalties in Welsh rugby?

Download Subtitles