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Tuesday, 13 April 2010

“I am proud to work in the Welsh NHS” – Dai Lloyd AM

Croeso i Gymru! – Welcome to Wales! In Europe’s oldest living language, Welsh reflects the unique cultural and historical experience that is Wales. And, as a practising GP and a Member of The National Assembly for Wales, I am very well aware, naturally, that the National Health Service also, looms large in the National conscience of Wales.

From the history of the mining communities of the South Wales Valleys leading to the formation of the Tredegar medical Aid Society as a forerunner and template for the later NHS, the Welsh experience is not confined to the usual cultural issues, but extends to the Health Service too.

With the establishment of the NAFW in 1999, Health was devolved to Wales. Health Policy has developed differently here, and I am proud to work in the Welsh NHS.

Here in Wales, prescription charges were abolished in 2007. Patient care is thus not compromised by the cost of prescription items, people no longer have to choose themselves which item(s) in a multiple prescription to ditch. Northern Ireland and Scotland are following this proud example.

The internal market in Health has been dismantled with the latest NHS reorganisation in October 2009, Seven Health Boards now plan services – commissioning is a thing of the past.

In addition, no new PFI ventures are being undertaken in Wales, and the NHS in Wales remains a publicly-funded public service, with little private medicine. That is a reflection of the tremendous loyalty and trust that people still have for the NHS in Wales, a loyalty that is reflected in the esteem and respect accorded to the Nation’s Doctors and NHS Staff in general.

GPs here are not faced with the ubiquitous ‘Choose and Book” system and waiting lists have improved out of all recognition in recent years. Devolution brought more Medical Schools in Swansea and North Wales, and an exciting new, Postgraduate Medical School in Swansea.

The accent is rightly on Public Health in Wales, and history will record the first vote to ban smoking in enclosed public buildings in these Islands occurred in the National Assembly for Wales in January 2003. The absence of the relevant powers however, meant the ban had to wait until April 2007 to kick in.

For doctors certainly, Wales offers a different experience – yes, the fine scenery of mountains, beaches and breathtaking views – yes, the history and traditions – and yes, also an NHS still true to its founding principles.

Croeso i Gymru!
Dr Dai Lloyd AM South Wales West
Plaid Cymru

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