Posted: Tue 18th Oct 2022

Angry scenes as First Minister and Conservative Leader clash in Senedd over health

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Oct 18th, 2022

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First Minister Questions erupted into angry scenes this afternoon, as the First Minister was challenged on the performance of the health service in Wales by the Welsh Conservatives. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The full video of the section of debate is below, and required the Llywydd to step in and stop what ended with the First Minister shouting at the leader of the Welsh Conservatives. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The Leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew Davies MS opened the exchange by asking, “First Minister, on the weekend, there were a series of incidences where ambulances could not turn up to critical incidents. Ben Symons, a 22-year-old, was laying on a football pitch in Cefn Cribwr with a serious back injury. His mother said at the time that there was a disgraceful wait involved, five hours, and that the system is broken. Do you agree with his mother?” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The First Minister replied, “I agree that the Welsh ambulance service is under enormous pressure. It’ll be under far greater pressure when his party has finished cutting the budget of the health service, as Jeremy Hunt has said he intends to do. Yes, you can grown and you can moan, but the responsibility lies where it lies, and people out there understand that, too. Yes, the system is under huge pressure; we know it’s under huge pressure. I spoke to someone who was at the game where that incident took place, and they told me that when the ambulance driver arrived, they explained the other calls that they had been on already that day—including a number of calls to 999—which didn’t need an ambulance to be there at all. So, the system is under enormous pressure from legitimate and demand that should have gone to a different part of the system.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“But when he asks me his next question, let him just reflect for a moment on what will happen to ambulance services in Wales when we face the cuts; cuts to the health service: unbelievable. [Interruption.] But cuts to the health—[Interruption.] Yes, look. I know, I know. You think by making a lot of noise that you distract people from your responsibility. Believe me, you absolutely do not.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Mr Davies responded, “I, unlike you, First Minister, have never voted to cut a health budget. You have, First Minister. Your party has been running the health service here, which the ambulance services is an important part of, for the last 23 years.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​


“Another incident happened in Merthyr Tydfil, where a patient was left on the floor after a 15-hour wait—a 15-hour wait—where the individual’s daughter said—and I’ll quote her words; they’re not my words, they’re her words:” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

” ‘In Wales we’re like a third-world country…. a third-world country when it comes to our healthcare….I’m sure Aneurin Bevan would be turning in his grave.’ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“They’re not my words, they’re from someone whose father was rolling around on a floor for 15 hours. You have been responsible for the health service here in Wales for 23 years. You voted to cut the health budget here in Wales. You can throw your pen down, First Minister, but you are responsible. What are you going to do about it?” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The First Minister replied, “I understand the pressure that the Conservative party is under. I understand how difficult it must be for the leader of the opposition to come here and ask questions today. But don’t let him believe that by shouting at me he will persuade anybody outside this Chamber that his responsibility—I’ve not heard ever a single word from him assuming responsibility for the actions of his Government. Let’s hear it from him next time…” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

North Wales MS Llyr Gruffydd interjected “He supported Liz Truss” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The First Minister continued, “Yes, he supported Liz Truss. We know that. He is partly responsible for the mess we’re in. Just shouting at me about the difficulties that are there in the ambulance service, which I acknowledge—and we are working very hard with people who work in the ambulance service to get that service where it needs to be. There’s no solution to that by shouting at me as though all the right in this argument belonged to him, which we certainly know it doesn’t, and everybody else is at fault. I completely refute, on behalf of those people who work so hard everyday in our health service in Wales, that it is accurately described in the way that he did, whoever he may be quoting. Our health service does miracles every single day in the lives of people here in Wales, and it does it because we have dedicated people, doctors, nurses and others, who will have heard him describe the service that they provide in the way that he did. If he thinks that helps at all to improve the service, to make people come in and drive those ambulances and staff those accident and emergency departments, I tell him now it absolutely does not.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The battle continued with Mr Davies coming back, “First Minister, I used a direct quote from Mr Keith Morris’s daughter. Pressure is when you see someone you love rolling around on the floor in pain and the service that you are looking to for help hasn’t arrived for 15 hours. That’s pressure, First Minister.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“You are the First Minister, you haven’t said once in response to my two questions the solution that the Government is proposing to take this pressure out of the ambulance service and allow them to get on with the job that they do, which is a fantastic job when it works correctly. Now, this is happening time and time again. I could have cited—[Interruption.] I hear sedentary voices. I accept that there are pressures across the United Kingdom, but the issue here in Wales is particularly acute. What I want to leave this Chamber understanding is what the road map from the Welsh Government is as we go further into the winter months to alleviate these problems so that Aneurin Bevan will not be turning in his grave, and our Government, which is responsible for the health service, has a solution to the problems that Mr Morris’ and other families are feeling day in, day out.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Still relatively calmly the First Minister debated back, “The prescription of the Welsh Government is to invest more money in the ambulance service, to have more staff working in the ambulance service, to have a wider range of people able to provide those services and for ambulances to know that, when they arrive at hospitals, the hospital will be in a position to receive that patient so that the ambulance can get back on the road again and can attend in a timely way to other people who are waiting. That is the prescription of the Welsh Government. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“What do people who work in the service, and as I say, they’ll have heard the way that the Member has described the service they provide this afternoon. What do they face? They—[Interruption.] He has chosen to use that language this afternoon, he didn’t—[Interruption.] And you have chosen to use that language here this afternoon. What do those people face? They face cuts to their pay because of the policy of your Government, and now they face cuts to the budgets that the health service itself will have at its disposal.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

With heckles and shouting unclear to viewers via the feed the First Minister exploded back, “It is shocking. It is absolutely shocking to me that you think that you can turn up here this afternoon with the mess that your party has made to the budgets of this country…” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“…to the budgets for this country, to the reputation of this country around the world, that you promise those people that there will be more to come. [Interruption.] And you think you turn up here this afternoon and claim some sort of moral high ground. What sort of world do you belong in? ” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The Llywydd stepped in and called order, defusing the situation, “Can we take a moment here? I understand that the arguments and the feelings run high on these issues from a variety of perspectives, I understand some of the shouting taking place, but I won’t have people pointing in anger, and gesticulating in anger, at other people. Can we just take a moment just to calm down?”. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The full video can be viewed below… ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​


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