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Health Minister must show leadership - Kirsty Williams

October 18, 2011 11:52 AM

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, is urging the Health Minister to show leadership over the dire state of NHS finances and call for a summit of the four main political parties to take a united stance over the future provision of treatment and service in the Welsh NHS.

The Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats call comes after the Wales Audit Office report 'A Picture of Public Services' stressed how NHS in Wales may be forced into short-term cuts without having time to assess the impact on patient care at the end of the financial year.

The report also warns that the NHS "does not have a good track record of managing within the constraints of a budget set at the start of the year" despite increased funding over the past 10 years.

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:

"The NHS in Wales faces a difficult few years ahead of having to balance the need to provide a decent health service to the people of Wales and manage a tight budget from Cardiff Bay.

"Over the past decade the NHS has been given a year on year increase in its budget and when LHBs can't break even, they are simply bailed out by the Welsh Government. Now with huge pressures on the Welsh Government budget, I suspect the LHBs' begging bowl won't be filled.

"The NHS must not make short-term cuts to the budget to break even without assessing what impact it will have on patient care. This short term measure will just reverse the work of LHBs who have reduced the risks to patients over the last years.

"Over the next few years, I believe it is going to very difficult for the NHS to maintain the standard of service that we've seen over the past years as budgets become smaller.

"I am urging the Health Minister and other party health spokespeople to be united in how we face the dire financial challenges ahead so that the future of the NHS in Wales serves not as an instrument for party political point scoring but serves the people of Wales."