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Welcome to Wales Today.
Patients here are still waiting longer than those in England
for key treatments.
Tonight, we ask the Health Secretary if he takes responsibility.
And Melanie Woodcock was sent to prison for not
paying her council tax.
The High Court rules she was unlawfully jailed.
Patients needing hip replacements in Wales wait, on average,
three times longer than in England.
Latest figures show that waiting times in the Welsh NHS still lag
behind in most of the key categories for treatment and diagnosis.
But, there has been a big reduction in the wait
for heart by-pass surgery.
The Health Secretary has admitted the length of some
of the waits is unacceptable and reform is needed.
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
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
It's difficult to walk.
Just a very frustrating.
Your life is virtually on hold.
Official figures from last year show she
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
wait 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
waits are unacceptable but says there needs to be change 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
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 try 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.
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 treated
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.
The Board says it's working on measures to reduce risks.
We have taken the opportunity to put things right.
We are not waiting, obviously, for the historic report.
I would say all the evidence we have got and everything I have seen and
people I have spoken to say we are giving
a good quality of care to
We do not always get it right, and that is for sure, but
people can feel when they come in here we give them the kind of care
and attention and treatment anybody would want to have and I certainly
want anybody to have.
A woman from Porthcawl who was unlawfully jailed
for failing to pay her council tax says she will never recover
from her time spent behind bars.
Melanie Woolcock is calling for a change in the law
after being sentenced to 81 days in prison for failing
to pay ?10 a week towards a debt of ?4700.
She was released half-way through her jail term
after a charity took up her case.
Caroline Evans reports.
Melanie Woolcock is currently juggling two jobs, running a shop
and delivering takeaways.
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,
never even had a parking ticket.
And yet they are able to take you into prison
for nonpayment of a bill.
Yesterday a High Court judge ruled she had been unlawfully jailed.
The lawyer who represented her says most cases of this type which go
before the High Court are quashed.
We have won the case in front of the High Court
because there was no adequate enquiry into means or investigation
into alternate custody.
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
unlawful or excessive.
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,
I believe, should be stopped.
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
a last resort.
"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,
Not my scene at all.
She is now working with university law departments to try
and change the law.
Ministers in Wales need to be given confidence their views on Brexit
are making a difference, according 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
the challenges that are there.
A billion pound investment plan for south-west Wales that
would boost digital technology for energy and healthcare projects
is close to being approved.
The Swansea Bay city region deal aims to create thousands of jobs
and attract a further ?2 billion of investment over 15 years.
Swansea council says it hopes an agreement with UK ministers can
be reached by the end of February.
Two men and a woman have been arrested after an incident
in the Cathays area of Cardiff.
Armed officers were called to Miskin Street at lunchtime.
Police said the road was closed to safeguard the public.
After battling everything the ocean has thrown at him -
sailor Alex Thomson is set to receive a hero's welcome tomorrow
morning as he finishes second in the Vonday Globe,
the solo round the world yacht race.
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 after his auto-pilot failed.
His family say they can't wait to be reunited.
I can't wait!
I'm so excited about seeing him.
I have spoken to him and been in contact but actually seeing
him is totally different and I cannot wait.
Just so proud and every time I think of him crossing that
line and coming down the canal I get very, very emotional.
Now there's some sunshine on the way to look forward to.
Here's Derek with the forecast.
If you're fed up the grey and gloomy weather there is a change on the way
and most of us should enjoy someone winter sunshine tomorrow.
Tonight, cloud in the north, some drizzle, otherwise dry,
clearer elsewhere and that means a colder night with some frost,
one or two mist and fog patches too.
Tomorrow starts with some cloud in the north but that tends to clear.
Elsewhere, some frost and one or two fog patches.
Otherwise many places bright and sunny.
Across the rest of the UK, cloudy for most of Northern Ireland
and the north of England and southern Scotland.
Spots of drizzle.
Elsewhere, dry and plenty of sunshine across the south
and some sunshine also for the north and north-east of Scotland.
Closer to home it should be a lovely afternoon.
Fine, bright, lots of winter sunshine.
Temperatures lower than today and feeling a bit chilly.
A light to moderate breeze.
Tomorrow night, dry, the sky is clear and that means
a widespread frost and one or two freezing fog patches and some low
cloud later in the night.
Cold and generally dry on Saturday.
Some low cloud, some mist and a few fog patches.
The best of the sunshine likely in the north.
Sunday, more dry weather, cloudy for some of us but a few
places will see the sun.
A little bit on the chilly side but at least the wind will be light.
Monday, high pressure still over the UK which means a dry
and settled start next week, but there is a change on the way
and it becomes windy with rain by Thursday and turning milder.
We're back with updates into Breakfast from around 6.25.
But that is Wales Today.
From all of us on the programme, good night.