Posted: Thu 23rd Mar 2023

Wales’ health minister survives vote of no confidence

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Mar 23rd, 2023

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Wales’ health minister has survived a vote of no confidence. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The motion, tabled by the Welsh Conservatives, came amid growing criticism of Eluned Morgan’s handling of failings at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and the return to special measures. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Opposition politicians say the north Wales health board should never have been taken out of special measures in 2020, with some arguing that the move was political. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​ ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Speaking in the Senedd last night Conservative MS Sam Rowlands said the motion was “about accountability and the role of individually elected representatives taking responsibility when it counts.”​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

H‌e said: “Who is deemed responsible for these failings? Who can residents in Wales hold responsible when they are let down? ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Surely, as those who believe in the power and right of democracy, it is clear that those elected to take responsibility are also those accountable when they fail to deliver on that responsibility. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“In this case, it is clear that the responsibility to take a grip on delivering on health services in Wales rests with the health Minister​.‌”​​​‍‌ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

North Wales MS Sam Rowlands

Darren Millar MS, who tabled the motion of no confidence, said that the “buck stops” with Eluned Morgan MS. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

He said: “When we’ve got a Minister who won’t listen, who won’t accept responsibility, who tries to body-swerve around every single person who comes to her and says, ‘Well, aren’t you responsible?’ then, I’m afraid your time’s up and it is time to go. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“For that reason, for this lack of accountability in our health service, for your failures to listen, for your failures to positively engage, for your poor judgment during your tenure, I’m afraid time’s up. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“The buck stops with you and I’m afraid you must go. And I heard what you said about while you have the confidence of the First Minister—what about the other three million-odd people out there in the country? What about their confidence? ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Because I’m afraid that if you come with me to north Wales to meet my constituents—and I would invite anybody to do so—you will find many people who have lost loved ones, who have experienced terrible trauma and pain as a result of the failings in our NHS.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Janet Finch Saunders MS called for more funds to be made available to the NHS and referenced a north Wales constituent who had been diagnosed with stomach cancer in December and was still awaiting treatment. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The motion was backed by Plaid Cymru politicians, who acknowledged that ​t‌he vote would be lost due to the Labour majority in the Senedd. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

However Rhun ap Iowerth MS argued that the health minister’s “handling of the Betsi Cadwaladr issue at the end of last month was the straw that broke the camel’s back” which led to calls for her to consider her position​​.‌‌‌‍‌ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

He said: “I would hope that the Government and those on the Labour benches would welcome the opportunity to show that they want to be accountable. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“We need to know that we have a Government, that we have Ministers, who are accountable and desire accountability. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“To serve in Government is an honour. It’s an enormous responsibility too, and, no doubt, it’s a difficult job. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“But there can be no ducking of responsibility because it’s a difficult job, and admitting when you’re getting it wrong is an important part of that process of seeking accountability.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Rhun ap Iowerth MS

Leader of Plaid Cymru, Adam Price MS, questioned the minister’s decision ​​t‌o remove independent board members​‍‌ at Betsi Cadwaladr. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

He added: “There are concerns at the heart of what has happened here that, actually, we all of us, collectively, both Government Members and opposition Members, I think, need to address. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

But Labour politicians fiercely defended Eluned Morgan, with Mike Hedges MS describing her as the “best health minister” there has been in the last decade. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Vikki Howells MS described the motion as “a very unnecessary and a vindictive distraction” while Joyce Watson MS argued that removing the health minister would not change the health service in north Wales overnight. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Liberal Democrat MS Jane Dodds also defended the health minster, describing the motion of no confidence as an “attempt to grab headlines.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Addressing the comments Eluned Morgan MS argued that she is committed to delivering the “best possible health service for the people of Wales.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

She said: “In relation to Betsi, the opposition seems to be blaming us for enacting their demands. We were told, ‘We need urgent change at the top.’ You called for a fresh start. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Well, here it is. Here is the fresh start. Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board was placed back into special measures. The chair and the independent members have been replaced. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“I took swift and decisive action to address the significant concerns that emerged from a series of independent reports. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“But I have to say that the cry of ‘toxicity’, ‘chaos’ and ‘dysfunction’ at the top of an institution is really rich coming from Plaid Cymru after what we hear about their party. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“The confidence of local people in their health service would be helped enormously if this Chamber came behind our ambition to resolve past problems of the health board in north Wales. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Don’t take my word for it, for how important a united front will be; a leading nurse in Betsi contacted me recently and said ‘thank you for standing up for me and my colleagues. The constant focus on the negative and the lack of acknowledgement of the hard work is having a significant effect on staff morale and recruitment’.‌ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“So, can we do that? Can we pull together? Can we stand with our workforce in north Wales? They don’t want political posturing or empty gestures—they want our support.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The motion of no confidence against the health minister failed, with 26 voting for and 29 voting against.​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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