My way or the highway: Health Minister’s ‘oppressive’ ultimatum
Welsh Conservatives have condemned a ‘support changes or go’ ultimatum delivered to community health councils.
Speaking at a CHC conference in Cardiff last week, a strongly worded message from the Health Minister implied it was ‘my way or the highway’, according to the Shadow Minister for Health.
Clwyd West Assembly Member Darren Millar has criticised the Minister’s ‘oppressive’ approach and called for health council members to be free to air their concerns.
Speaking to members at a hotel in the Welsh capital, the Minister said: ‘Community Health Councils cannot be parochial. You must consider the needs not only of the local population but of the whole Welsh Health Service.
‘This has and will continue to present challenges to you. However, I am clear members of Community Health Councils cannot sit in two camps. They cannot be a member of a Council whilst at the same time campaigning against proposals in relation to service reconfiguration which the LHB might be considering.’
Proposals for NHS reconfiguration in North and West Wales are due to be published over the summer and there are fears of hospital downgrades.
Labour AMs recently joined Welsh Conservative Assembly Members at a demonstration against proposed changes at Prince Phillip Hospital in Llanelli and former Labour Secretary of State for Wales, Peter Hain MP, has condemned proposals to withdraw acute medical services from Neath Port Talbot Hospital.
Mr Millar has previously called the potential for downgrades ‘a reckless way forward’.
“As far as the Health Minister is concerned it’s my way or the highway. That dictatorship must end now.
“This is nothing more than an oppressive ultimatum which attempts to gag those individual members of community health councils and prevent them from voicing their concerns.
“The implication is clear: support reorganisation plans, no matter how unpopular or unsound they may be, or go.
“The Minister forgets that members of her own Party happily campaign against her ill-thought proposals. Community health council members should also be free to air their concerns."
“The Welsh Labour Government must act now to reverse its record-breaking cuts to the NHS - patients must not be forced to travel further for emergency life-saving treatment, nor should they tolerate the downgrading of district general hospitals."
An extract from the Health Minister’s speech – obtained by Darren Millar AM - is below.
At a time of service reconfiguration, we will all benefit, if Community Health Councils and LHBs work together in a spirit of mutual cooperation, safe in the knowledge that sensitive information can be shared without fear of it being divulged, even in cases where there may be differing views.
This can only lead to a better health service where well considered proposals have been carefully thought through and exposed to the views of Community Health Councils.
Community Health Councils cannot be parochial. You must consider the needs not only of the local population but of the whole Welsh Health Service.
This has and will continue to present challenges to you. However, I am clear members of Community Health Councils cannot sit in two camps. They cannot be a member of a Council whilst at the same time campaigning against proposals in relation to service reconfiguration which the LHB might be considering.