Saturday, 12 December 2009

No administrators were culled during Welsh NHS restructuring

A storm erupted last night after it emerged that not a single administrator’s job was lost when the NHS in Wales was reorganised in October.

Although the number of Local Health Boards shrank from 22 to seven and dozens of highly-paid top management posts disappeared, no-one has been invited to apply for voluntary redundancy
or otherwise been forced to take it.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister Andrew RT Davies said:

We were promised NHS restructuring would deflate Labour’s bloated health service bureaucracy and refocus delivery on to frontline patient care.

People pay tax and National Insurance to receive first-class healthcare, not to bankroll administrators and bureaucrats.

David Rosser, director of CBI Wales, said:
This is a situation that a lot of people in the private sector and a lot of taxpayers will be angry about.

Nobody likes to make people redundant, but sadly there are times when efficiency savings have to be made.

It is inconceivable that a reorganisation along these lines could take place in the private sector without a reduction in head count.

This does not augur well for the savings the Assembly Government will need to make in the coming years.

The Assembly Government said:
We expect to see a reduction in management costs over time but this was never the primary purpose of the reform programme. The main savings of the reforms will result from reducing the transactional costs associated with the internal market.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Plaid-led Assembly Commission?

I would've thought that one Assembly Member of sixty, defecting from one political party to another would be newsworthy from a collective, objective, and transparent National Assembly for Wales. Obviously not!

And Then There Were Thirteen: Plaid AM defects to Conservatives

Plaid Cymru AM Mohammad Asghar has crossed the floor to join the Conservatives in the Welsh assembly.

Mr Asghar, the assembly's only ethnic minority AM, said he felt "out of tune" with Plaid policies, in particular its desire for an independent Wales.

Plaid Cymru said his decision was a "shock" and called for him to be "honourable" and resign his seat.

It is the first time an AM has left one party to join another, although others have sat as independents after resigning or being expelled from their own parties.

Mr Asghar was elected as a regional AM for South Wales East in 2007.
Joined by the Conservative group at a news conference, he said he had "felt out of tune with the views and policies of Plaid Cymru" and "believed in the royal family and one United Kingdom".

"My politics are very much in line with wanting a stronger Wales within a successful United Kingdom," he said.

"I believe that the Welsh Conservative Party in the national assembly, led by Nick Bourne, reflects my beliefs.

"I am also attracted by the caring Conservatism and policies for change put forward by David Cameron and the Conservative Party at Westminster.

"I very much look forward to playing an important role in the shadow team in the national assembly and to helping to shape the policies for the Assembly elections in 2011," said Mr Asghar.

Asked why he had stood for Plaid Cymru when he was opposed to independence for Wales, he said his voice had been that of "a little parrot in a jungle", with little chance of changing Plaid's stance on the issue.

Mr Asghar was originally seen as a political tool by Plaid Cymru:
"We were very proud of the fact that in campaigning hard for Mohammad Asghar's election in 2007 that Plaid Cymru ensured the first ever assembly member from the black minority ethnic community."

... Now there appears to be sour grapes:
"It is has come as a shock that he has now decided that he shares the same values as those held by the Conservative and Unionist party." Plaid Cymru assembly group chair Dai Lloyd said it would be wrong for Mr Asghar to remain in the assembly as a Conservative. "We now call on Mohammad Asghar to take the honourable decision to resign his seat as a Plaid Cymru AM," Mr Lloyd said. "The people of the South Wales (East) region did not want a second Tory AM to represent the area - they elected a Plaid Cymru AM. "Mr Asghar does not have the political mandate to sit in the assembly as a Conservative member..."

Hat-tip to the Welsh Conservatives and Mr Asghar for pulling that one out of the hat, and on the day that Rhodri Morgan tenders his resignation as First Minister.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Thought of the Moment... Carwynista

A Changing Wales, and at a Faster Pace?

Not only is Wikipedia showing that Welsh Labour leader and First Minister designate Carwyn Jones is a Rt Hon, and before even becoming First Minister, but I also discover that the Welsh media is abundant with absent script, short sentenced 'new' Welsh speaking AMs who have taken the opportunity to step out into the sunshine for the first time since Autumn has ended and Winter has begun.

Please form an orderly queue before a warm Winter chat and confirmation on the FM's balcony.

Looking back, what surprises me? A large and more than generous donation to the campaign. How desperate can one person be? Surprise? On second thought, no!

Blast from the Past: Wigley on Morgan

Slow-retiring First Minister Rhodri Morgan made two big mistakes during his near decade in office, according to former Plaid Cymru president Dafydd Wigley.

In an article written for Ninnau, the North American Welsh newspaper that is largely complimentary about Mr Morgan, Mr Wigley singles out the scrapping of the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) and the first NHS reorganisation as serious errors.

Mr Wigley stated:

To my mind, one of the decisions taken by Rhodri Morgan back in 2004 undermined
the process of securing economic renewal. He decided, with support from all four
parties in the National Assembly, to axe the WDA. This body, at arm’s length from government, had been leading the work to secure economic development.

Since 1975, wrote Mr Wigley, the WDA had gained for itself a very significant international reputation and a brand image that was helpful for Wales.
Many of us feel that it was a disastrous decision to abolish the WDA and to integrate its work into the civil service of the National Assembly. There are no two ways about it: this decision was down to Rhodri Morgan himself. He had been highly critical of the WDA’s lack of answerability over a couple of decades. That decision, to my mind, was fundamentally flawed and Wales will continue to pay the price until some similar structure is recreated.

Writing about what he sees as the other major mistake during Mr Morgan’s period in office, Mr Wigley stated:

The other disastrous decision was to create 22 Local Health Boards in Wales, a bureaucratic nightmare in a country of only three million people.

It is good that the Labour-Plaid coalition government has recently seen the folly of that decision and has replaced those 22 boards with a slimmed-down seven region structure which came into force in October this year.

Writing about the challenges facing the new First Minister, Mr Wigley states:
The new First Minister will have his or her time cut out in living up to the popularity of Rhodri Morgan. There will be huge economic challenges arising from the recession. The Assembly, as with all UK public sector bodies, will face a financial squeeze.

There will be tensions if, as expected, the next UK Government at Westminster is Conservative, with a very different agenda to that of the Labour-Plaid coalition in Wales.

All this will inevitably lead to calls for an early referendum to give the Assembly full parliamentary powers.

We are entering a new era of uncharted waters.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The Greatest Show on Earth*

The winner of the race to succeed Rhodri Morgan as leader of Labour in Wales and first minister in the Welsh assembly will be announced later.

The result will be announced at about 1730 GMT at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay.

Eligible to vote are Welsh Labour party members, affiliated groups such as trade unions, and its MPs, AMs and MEP.

The candidates are all AMs, with Carwyn Jones widely seen as the front runner, followed by Edwina Hart and Huw Lewis.

Whoever wins is due to be confirmed as first minister just over a week later.

The two-month election campaign began formally when Mr Morgan confirmed on 1 October that he was standing down, shortly after his 70th birthday.
Mr Morgan has held the top job in Wales since February 2000, and said it was the right time to go.

In Mr Morgan's current cabinet, Mr Jones is counsel general, or the assembly government's chief legal adviser, and leader of the house, who is in charge of getting government business through the assembly.

The vote is split equally three ways between:

• Party members
• Labour-affiliated trade unions and other organisations
• Elected AMs, MPs and the party's one MEP for Wales.

Members voted by ranking the candidates in order of preference on the ballot papers.
If one candidate has more than 50% of the vote after the first round of counting, the candidate with the lowest number of votes will be eliminated and their second preferences transferred to the remaining two to decide the winner.

* just watch Facebook profiles, groups, and blogs disappear overnight.

BBC UK Politics

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Welsh Political News

UK News from Times Online

Telegraph Politics


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