Eluned Morgan to consider sanctions for NHS waiting times

Health boards could be punished if they don’t do enough to reduce treatment waiting lists, according to Wales’ health secretary.

Eluned Morgan admitted the NHS in Wales isn’t performing “well enough” and improving the situation is one of her top priorities. New figures show waiting lists at their second highest level and cancer waiting times are the second worst on record. The Welsh Conservatives described the results as “abysmal”.

Ms Morgan insists some progress has been made on reducing the longest waits for treatment, with 97% of patients waiting less than two years in six out of seven health board areas.
“It is not good enough and I am expecting [health boards] to perform better” she said.

“And that’s certainly where my focus is going to be in future.”

Asked whether she would impose some sort of punishment on health boards that did not make sufficient improvements, Ms Morgan said “options” are being worked through.I’ve asked specifically [for] options around what more we can do in relation to sanctions,” she said.

“But what I can’t have is punishing health boards and [patients] paying a price as a result.” She added: “But some of these executives are highly paid and we do need to see performance improve.”

Ms Morgan said health boards could earn “more freedom” from Welsh government scrutiny, with ministers “getting off their back” if they make sufficient progressThe latest NHS figures show that there were 763,105 treatments waiting to be completed in February, close to the record high of 764,197 last October.

The jump follows a period of three months where the numbers waiting for treatment had been slowly falling.

In February 53.4% of patients started treatment within 62 days of suspected cancer compared to 54.7% the previous month. This was the second lowest percentage ever recorded.

Ms Morgan said that February’s waiting time figures were affected to a degree by a 72-hour walk out by junior doctors, who have been on strike on three separate occasions this year.

However, along with consultants and senior doctors who were due on strike this week, they have agreed to suspend action to restart pay negotiations with the Welsh government.

It followed what has been described as a “substantial” new offer.

Ms Morgan previously argued that the Welsh government “had no money” to improve on what it had previously described as a final 5% pay rise deal.

But she said the improved offer came as a result of extra money being given over by the UK government at the very end of the financial year – an amount she argued couldn’t have been budgeted any earlier.

Ms Morgan said the government was “looking forward to those discussions starting”, but would not give any more details on the pay package other than she expected “some things in return”.

Sam Rowlands MS, the new Welsh Conservative shadow health minister, said: “This abysmal set of statistics show why the Labour Welsh government need to be held accountable for their performance running our Welsh NHS. I look forward to putting forward positive solutions to that end in my new role.

Source: BBC

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Tory activist

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