Uppermost in many people’s minds at the moment will be concerns about the pressures on our NHS, and a recognition that this is not just a winter emergency. It is almost three years now since the beginning of the Covid Pandemic, and the pressure has been relentless, both on our hospitals and GPs, with chronic staff shortages.
I meet regularly with the Hywel Dda Health Board to discuss what they are doing to tackle the problems, and at our meeting before Christmas, they told me they are currently advertising some 460 vacancies, which gives you an idea of the scale of the problem.
They also told me some 140 patients across the four main hospitals (Llanelli, Carmarthen, Haverfordwest and Aberystwyth) in the Hywel Dda Health Board area, were medically ready to be discharged but waiting for suitable care packages. More care staff are being recruited, and hopefully the Welsh Labour Government insistence that all care staff are paid at least the Real Living Wage will help.
Although Welsh Labour Government has tried to maximize resources available to the NHS, we have to face the fact that the scale of resources needed calls for more UK Government funding, with a proportionate share for Wales.
That’s why Labour has pledged that a UK Labour Government would put the 45p tax rate back up to 50p and use the money to resource the NHS better and fund one of the biggest NHS workforce expansions in history, doubling the number of medical school places, doubling the number of district nurses qualifying every year, training more than 5,000 new health visitors and creating an additional 10,000 nursing and midwife placements every year.
And that’s why in Parliament, we will keep urging the current Tory Government to resource our NHS better.