THE ‘fire-breaker’ plan for Wales announced yesterday is also a clear reflection of the parlous state of health here in general.
With the whole of Wales now to be locked down again for 16 days from Friday, it appears that a major part of the Labour Government’s reasoning is to ‘protect’ the NHS.
GWLAD Chair, Dr. Sian Mair Caiach said the plan revealed harsh truths about the state of the NHS here, and the fact that Wales was very poorly prepared for the present crisis.
‘Infectious disease and isolation units have been deliberately run down, closed and sold off to private developers in the name of ‘efficiencies’ over recent years’ she said.
‘Early discharges from hospitals have meant less medical supervision of the sick and a general decrease in the quality of care’.
‘Health care has been delivered on the cheap here for years, and Covid has been a big wake-up call’.
Dr. Caiach said that as plagues go, the death rate from the virus itself was modest at around 1%, and falling with better treatments; but that Wales had poor health in general, with many groups vulnerable to it, such as the elderly, obese, hypertensive, transplant recipients, cancer patients and the like.
But, she said that people had to accept that the virus would not disappear over night, whatever measures were adopted.
‘It’s now obvious that no government or scientists yet have the instruments to eradicate this virus – and it’ s probably going to stick around for a year or two. ‘
She added that a big part of Wales’s health problems were also down to the fact that health care is overwhelmingly run by bureaucrats on the local health boards.
‘These bureaucrats are appointed by other bureaucrats, and they are not accountable to anyone.’ she said.
‘They are selected not elected, so no public pressure can be brought to bear on them to deliver better health outcomes for patients.’
She added that GWLAD’s policy was fundamentally to reform the existing health boards and ensure democratic accountability with elected members to serve the public in future.
The NHS has long been the ‘golden calf’ to be venerated within Welsh life, well above other aspects of public life.
But the current crisis has shown its vulnerabilities and the need for reform.