The NHS in Wales is breaking records, but breaking records for all the wrong reasons. It is shocking that five out of seven health boards in Wales are in special measures or targeted intervention of some kind, including our own Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board here in North Wales, which has now been under direct control of the Welsh Government for four years - the longest period ever that any NHS organisation anywhere in the UK has ever spent under special measures.
Still reeling from a legacy of record breaking cuts, while health spending was protected in England and Scotland, our Welsh health service is in the midst of a crisis.
For every pound that is spent on a patient in England, the Welsh Government receives £1.20 to spend on a patient here, yet the sad reality is that all we have seen in recent years is cuts, closures and downgrades and Welsh patients now waiting longer for tests, longer for treatment and longer in emergency departments than over the border in England.
In recent years we have seen investigations which have uncovered scandalous care and abuse of vulnerable elderly people on mental health wards at Glan Clwyd and the Princess of Wales Hospitals. And earlier this month we learnt of the appalling care and treatment which led to the death of babies at the Prince Charles and Royal Glamorgan Hospitals in South Wales.
Despite health being a devolved matter and therefore the responsibility of the Welsh Government, Welsh Labour have failed to take responsibility for the catalogue of failings in the our NHS. As a result, last week in the Senedd I, along with other opposition AMs, voted in favour of a vote of no confidence in the Welsh Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, but sadly this was defeated.
We were assured in North Wales that when the report was published into the failings at Tawel Fan, it would be the last of its kind because the Health Minister would get to grips with those problems. He made statement after statement in the aftermath of the publication of the Tawel Fan report that things would change, that we would never see the likes of it again, and yet four years later, with Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board still in special measures, still not delivering appropriate quality services, certainly in respect of its mental health care, and a situation where almost identical failings have been identified in terms of other services, this time for young babies and their mothers in Cwm Taf, the same mistakes are being made and nobody is being held accountable.
To ensure health services are improved here in North Wales, it is clear that we need a new Health Minister with the ability to take the action necessary to remove those responsible for failures with our Health Board and put an action plan together to turn it around.
The way things currently stand both patients and their loved ones, and the hardworking and dedicated staff in our NHS, are being let down by a system that the Welsh Labour Government are failing to improve. For the sake of everyone, this must change.
That's why, at this month’s Welsh Conservative Party Conference in Llangollen, I launched a five-point plan to give people in Wales a safer, more accountable and listening NHS with an independent and better resourced health inspectorate, and more support for patients when raising concerns and complaints.
It's time we saw the rapid improvement we were promised by the Welsh Government in our NHS in North Wales; people are fed up of waiting.