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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,