19/01/2017 BBC Wales Today


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Martin McGuinness is stepping down from politics for good.


Welcome to Wales Today. Tonight:


Patients here are still waiting longer than those in England


Tonight, we ask the Health Secretary if he takes responsibility.


Not everyone who waits waits in pain or discomfort but some people do and


for lots of people there is anxiety that goes with the wait for


treatment and I have got responsibility overall as a


politician for the whole system and I don't try to hide from that.


Melanie Woodcock was sent to prison for not paying her council tax.


The High Court rules she was unlawfully jailed.


I think it's wrong that if you are struggling with a bill


that you are sent into a prison full of criminals.


Closed down after an inquiry found patients were treated like animals.


A long-awaited report into the Tawel Fan mental


Getting us out of our cars and onto our bikes -


Cardiff is aiming to become one of the leading cycling cities


And in tonight's sport, 74 days at sea.


The ocean threw everything at him but Welsh sailor


Alex Thomson finishes runner up in the Vendee Globe and is set


Latest figures show that waiting times in the Welsh NHS still lag


behind the health service in England in most of the key categories


Average waits for hip replacements in Wales are three times


longer than in England, although there's been a big


reduction in the Welsh wait for heart by-pass surgery.


More from our political editor Nick Servini.


Ab with her dog at home in Newquay in Ceredigion. 82-year-old Margaret


Brazier can now enjoy a short walk thanks to a hip replacement


operation last year at nearby wrong lies hospital. It was cancelled four


times but she eventually had the surgery after waiting six months.


You are on tenterhooks waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for a


letter when you are going to be able to come in and you have got pain in


your groin. It's difficult to walk. Just a very frustrating. Your life


is virtually on hold. Official figures from last year show she


wasn't alone. The main statistical bodies for the NHS have found that


patients in Wales waited significantly longer than in England


in seven out of the 11 categories. And the biggest gap was in hip


operations, where the average Welsh weight was 226 days compared to 76


in England. Elsewhere, waits for a hernia operations in Wales were 120


days compared with 43 in England. Cataract waits in Wales were 107


days compared with 58 in England. But it wasn't all bad. Cancer waits


were broadly the same as in England and there was a dramatic fall in the


length of time patients wait for heart bypass surgery in Wales. It is


very frustrating to see that things aren't better but it is no surprise.


Everyday we can see the pressure that the hospitals are under when we


are working there. You can see the pressure that the emergency services


and doctors and nurses are under in managing the demand for emergency


care. The Welsh government has come under fire from opposition parties


who say the figures are scandalous and in particular hit the elderly


the hardest. The Health Secretary Vaughan Gething admits some of the


weights are unacceptable but says there needs to be changed because


the current structure in the NHS is unlikely to deliver the waiting


times people want. Do you take responsibility? These people are in


pain for months longer than they would be if they lived the other


side of the border. Not everyone who waits deals with pain and


discomfort. Not everyone who waits and waits in pain but some people do


and for lots of people there is anxiety that goes with the wait for


treatment and I have got responsibility overall as a


politician for the whole system and I don't type to hide from that. My


job is to make the case for a public service that delivers high-quality


care and the improvements that all of us would wish to see. There are


no easy answers to figures like these but political pressure on


ministers would be to throw even more money at hospitals like this


one but that creates even more pressure from other public services


that already feel starved of cash because of demands from the NHS and


then there is the growing realisation that simply throwing


money at it is probably not the long-term answer anyway. All the


recent attention has been on winter pressures but they rise in emergency


admissions has a big knock on for the time it takes to treat patients


elsewhere. And those preparing for planned operations are often the


ones who suffer. Our Health Correspondent


Owain Clarke is here. To what extent are these differences


accepted as a problem in Wales? The Wales Audit Office and others


have been warning about waiting times for quite some time. The boss


of the NHS Andrew Goodall will be appearing before Assembly Members on


Monday to discuss this issue. He has prepared this document in advance


and it says quite clearly, waiting times in Wales are too long, waiting


lists are 6% bigger than in January 2015, but that's because demand is


increasing. GP referrals are 9% in three years and that is the


fundamental problem. We have a system that is unbalanced, the


demand exceeds the NHS' ability to deliver. And the Health Secretary


has admitted that some of these weights are unacceptable but can


waiting times be brought down? Where there is a will and a focus it can


happen. Surgeons warned that too many people were dying on cardiac


lists. A range of measures including sending Seb Davies to England were


introduced and that brought waiting times down. -- sending some patients


to England. That means the Welsh government needs to invest in


different types of treatment, physiotherapy, keeping people out of


hospitals, even changing the system more radically and changing models


of care but that can be painfully slow to deliver and people on


waiting lists can relate to that. A woman from Porthcawl


who was unlawfully jailed for failing to pay her council tax


says she will never recover Melanie Woolcock is calling


for a change in the law after being sentenced to 81 days


in prison for failing to pay ?10 She was released half way through


after a charity took up her case. Melanie Woolcock is currently


juggling two jobs, running a shop As single mother, she says


trying to make ends meet pushed her into debt


but she was paying it off. I fell behind roughly about ten


weeks, realised that, and then paid ten weeks in one go


but the day I paid the money, a warrant had been issued


to arrest me for nonpayment so it was too late for me


to do anything about it. I think it's wrong that


if you are struggling with a bill, that you are sent into a prison


full of criminals. When I have never committed


a crime in my entire life, And yet they are able


to take you into prison Yesterday a High Court judge ruled


she had been unlawfully jailed. The lawyer who represented her says


most cases of this type which go We have won the case


in front of the High Court because there was no adequate


enquiry into means or investigation It is approximately 90%


or thereabouts of cases that are quashed by the High Court


and it is very unusual in any system to see that number of decisions


to be found subsequently She only got help because while in


prison she found a magazine article on council tax debt and wrote


for help from a charity. The author of that article says


the impact of such sentences on families already struggling


financially is terrible and wants an end to imprisonment for all types


of civil debt. Two people a week go to prison


unlawfully so it is a small number compared with all the Magistrates'


Courts dealing with all the council tax debt but in terms of the human


cost, it is very serious. Prisons are not places for people


who have financial difficulty, prisons are there for serious


offenders who have committed crimes and caused great damage so it is two


people a week and this, Bridgend Council, which was owed


the money, says they have a legal responsibility to collect unpaid


council tax but offer help to anyone experiencing difficulty


and prosecution is always "We understand that the resident


in this case was jailed "after failing to meet


the requirements of "the suspended sentence issued


by the Magistrates' Court, they say. Melanie says she will never recover


from her experience. I was in a prison with,


you know, paedophiles, She is now working with


University Law departments She is now working with University


law departments to try Ministers in Wales need to be given


confidence their views on Brexit are making a difference,


according to the Welsh Mark Drakeford was speaking


after a joint committee on Brexit set up by the UK Government met


for the first time since Theresa May said the UK should leave


the European single market. This is meant to be


a fundamental forum. It was referenced by


the Prime Minister in her speech and I feel that we need to be given


confidence by the UK Government that we are not simply


here to express our views but that those views go


on and make a difference. Even the Welsh Government accepted


today that the language the Prime Minister used earlier


this week about a free-trade agreement with the European Union


is not inconsistent with the language they have talked


about so this demonstrates there is a lot of common ground


but I am not underestimating Let's get more now from our


parliamentary correspondent, Theresa May set up one of the


objectives which was to strengthen the United Kingdom and to strengthen


the bond between the four nations. But as you heard, there is


frustration from the devolved governments. The Scot said they were


being told what to do and they didn't like it and the Northern


Irish are talking about leaving the process entirely. So what did they


talk about today? There was a man from Scotland and from Northern


Ireland. No plan on the table from Wales yet but I am told by Mark


Drakeford that we will get that on Monday and that will set out in some


detail what the Welsh government sees as the key issue, the most


significant issue from Brexit as far as Wales is concerned, and how to


deliver those objectives in the process. We will find out where that


is discussed in the next meeting of this forum next month whether the UK


Government is prepared to listen. Publication of a long-awaited report


into the scandal-hit Tawel Fan ward at Glan Clwyd Hospital


is to be delayed again. The mental health ward


in Bodelwyddan was closed in December 2013 after an inquiry


found some patients had been This comes after the release


of another document, suggesting the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board


was at risk of failing to comply with laws designed


to protect vulnerable people. It was perhaps among the biggest


scandals to hit a Welsh hospital and a Welsh health board. The closed


mental health ward with the most vulnerable patients. An earlier


report highlighted institutional abuse there. Two more detailed


independent reports were commissioned and three years on it


has emerged they will be ready until the summer. I am absolutely appalled


that we are now over 18 months since the publication of the Tawel Fan


report, which found shocking standards of care and abuse on


mental health ward and yet no one has been held to account for what


went wrong. We need this work to be completed as soon as possible and we


need those who are responsible to lose their jobs and face the


consequences for their actions. The Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board points


out that the people who are writing these reports are fully independent.


Since they were commissioned, more information has come to light and


the families of more Tawel Fan patients have come forward. In any


event, the health board says better a full report than a Russian one.


But further questions are being asked about whether all patients


being treated in North Wales hospitals are safe. A health


campaign group has drawn attention to what's called a safeguarding


report. It highlights high levels of risk in a number of areas, including


failures to comply with the Mental Health Act and deprivation of


liberty safeguards. So our patients at risk? It is a question I put to


Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board chief executive Gary Doherty. We are


waiting for the historic report and I would say that all the evidence we


have got, everything I have seen and people I have spoken to, are giving


good quality of care to people. We aren't always getting it right, but


people can feel when they come here, we will give them the kind of care,


attention and treatment that anybody would want to have and I would want


anybody to have. The health board is keen to distance its annual


safeguarding report from what happened at Tawel Fan. So great was


the scandal, a mere mention of the health ward prompts concern.


Still to come in the programme: On Barack Obama's final full day


in power, pupils at a Newport school remember the day the President


And there's no sign of any snow but if you're fed-up with the grey,


cloudy weather, I've got some good news.


Cardiff is aiming to become one of the UK's leading cycling cities


The target is to get more than half of commuters out


of their cars and cycling, walking or taking public


The plan was approved by the council's cabinet today


and they are now inviting views from the public.


With congestion and traffic jams a consistent problem, Cardiff Council


wants to get more of us on our bikes. It's been working closely


with experts from the Danish capital Copenhagen about how to make Cardiff


one of the UK's leading cycling cities. The 10-year strategy aims to


address the concerns many people have about cycling. Improving


safety, lighting, parking, road surfaces and cycle paths. This


charity says continuous cycle lanes are key. You can set off on a


journey and suddenly find that you have to go back into the mainstream


with the traffic and we found that many of our customers had told us


they would just get off the bike and start wheeling it. Cardiff Council


hopes that half of commuters will get out of their cars and onto


public transport or will cycle or walk to work by 2021. A target of


60% has been set for 2026. Most of the trips that take place in Cardiff


are in the city are less than three miles. To go by bike would take


about 20 minutes. Why should we not improve the cycle lanes? The plans


include creating cycle lanes segregated in places from the


traffic along two primary routes, providing continuous cycling between


communities and key destinations. The first primary route would go


from Cardiff Bay through the city centre to a planned new housing


development. The second primary route would go from Saint Mellons in


the East through the city centre and out beyond Fairwater in the West. If


the plans go ahead, it would enable businesses like this coffee tried to


expand into areas which are currently difficult to access by


bike. Newport Road is quite fast and busy and unless you are really


confident on your bike, even on my own personal bike, I am not that


comfortable on Newport Road. What happens here will be watched closely


across the country. All Welsh councils have a duty to improve


sustainable forms of transport. Cardiff Council has now launched a


12 week public consultation period to get residents views on what would


make them get and stay on their bikes.


He has battled everything the ocean has thrown at him.


Alex Thomson is set to receive a hero's welcome tomorrow morning


as he finishes second in the Vendee Globe,


The 42-year-old, who was born in Bangor, was bidding to become


the first non-French winner but his push for glory petered out


Battling the waves alone, Alex Thomson has survived on no


more than 20 minutes of sleep every few hours for the last 74 days.


He has pushed himself to the limit and come back fighting every time.


His final attempt at reeling in his French rival ended yesterday


when technical equipment let him down.


He has kept his supporters aware of his progress


throughout his journey, posting at times emotional videos.


I just worry about what is going to happen over the next


For his family waiting at the finish line, it's been


I have spoken to him, I have been in contact,


but actually seeing him is totally different.


Not having much sleep, my heart is beating and racing,


just incredibly proud, just so proud, and every time


I think of him crossing the line, I get very emotional.


The winner crossed the line this afternoon and Alex is expected


With low tide, he will sleep in his boat until morning


where his arrival and reunion with loved ones can be captured


Wales' youngest football international Harry Wilson has


made his first senior appearance for Liverpool.


The 19-year-old came off the bench as a second-half substitute


Born in Wrexham, he beat Gareth Bale's record when he played


for Wales at the age of 16 years and 207 days.


And Glamorgan have confirmed that Jacques Rudolph will remain


as captain despite a disappointing season with the bat.


On his final full day in power, pupils at a school in Newport have


been reminiscing about the day President Barack Obama


Back in 2014, Mount Pleasant Primary School got in touch with NATO ahead


They didn't expect anything to come of their request for a VIP visit


but soon they were rubbing shoulders with the most powerful


The first-ever visit to Wales by a sitting president


It was pupils at Mount Pleasant Primary School who were among


Ben and Ella were in year six at the time.


Two people who wrote welcome speeches and spoke to Mr Obama


in person now in high school looking back.


If that handle went, teachers were coming back and forth,


pushing the handle, and you would just sit up.


When he entered the room we were so happy.


So how do they think the 44th president of the United States


Certainly we will be a lot more interested in what he does.


The election, I did watch a lot of that and it has


changed my life a lot and it has changed my perspective on things.


I have gained a lot of confidence from doing that.


Looking back, I figure that I can say, I did a welcome speech


Whenever I go back to Mount Pleasant,


I will always have the memories that I met him there.


He will always be the president that visited this little Welsh school.


Debate over his achievements will continue.


His legacy here though as the happy man from Chicago


who came to class one day seems secure.


Time for the weather now. Derek, how's it looking?


Rain is forecast in Washington DC tomorrow with a high of 8 Celsius.


On this side of the pond, it's much more settled


Most of the country grey again today.


But parts of the south and the south-west


Tonight, cloudy in the north with the odd spot of


Elsewhere, the cloud will clear so turning cold with some frost.


Here's the picture for 8:00am in the morning.


The odd spot of drizzle over the Irish Sea.


One or two fog patches but most places clear and sunny.


During the day, the cloud in the far north will clear.


Much of the country enjoying a fine and sunny afternoon.


A welcome change after a few days of grey weather.


Temperatures on the chilly side with a light to moderate breeze.


In Bridgend tomorrow, fine and sunny.


Temperatures rising to 5 or 6 Celsius with an easterly breeze.


In Montgomeryshire, dry and much sunnier than today.


Tomorrow night will be dry, clear and cold with a widespread frost.


A few freezing fog patches and some low cloud later in the night.


Saturday will be colder but generally dry.


Some low cloud, mist and fog patches.


The best of the sunshine in the north.


Cloudy and cold but bright in places with some sunshine.


High pressure over the UK on Monday means a dry


We'll have a quick update at 8pm and more after the BBC News at Ten.


For now, from all of us on the programme,


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