COLUMN 26TH JANUARY 2018

The big talking point over the last week has been about how health services in west Wales might change in the  years ahead.

People in #Pembrokeshire and #Carmarthenshire are rightly concerned and I will speak up for local services at every opportunity. But we know that some services are stretched and clinicians themselves have said that there is scope to do things better. We find it hard to recruit to positions and to make our hospitals attractive to new doctors – we have to be at the cutting edge of health care. That I hope is what the Transforming Clinical Services programme will deliver.

I am in touch with Hywel Dda Health Board to represent your views and I have held an urgent meeting along with Joyce Watson with the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Vaughan Gething. He is aware of our shared position that we are opposed to any proposal which would see the closure of any hospital.

The Health Board has much work to do in gaining the trust of the public but also in working up their final options. It is then we should be challenging and testing the final plans to ensure that services are the best they can be, as close to the patients who need them.

Since I last wrote in the Herald, the Welsh Government budget has been passed in the The National Assembly for Wales. It drew the usual criticism down party political lines. Despite continued austerity from the Tories in Westminster, the #Labour Welsh Government has placed its focus on backing our public services and creating prosperity against the shadow of #Brexit.

The UK may have been able to move on to the second phase of negotiations with Europe over our future links with the continent, but many of the businesses and organisations I meet are sceptical over how good a deal, the Tory Government might be able to broker. For trade the best deal we have, is the one we have right now – free trade with our closest trading partners. To prepare for the worst, the #WelshGovernment has put aside a £50million EU transition fund to help businesses, universities and public sector organisations prepare for Brexit and I will continue to challenge MPs to fight for the best deal that secures the economy and future prospects of the next generation.

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