RHUN AP IORWERTH RENEWS CALLS FOR “PREVENTION REVOLUTION” AS NHS WAITS HIT NEW HIGH

“NHS pressures are not just simply about seasonality – in fact, these problems pre-date the pandemic” – Rhun ap Iorwerth MS

The latest NHS waiting time figures, released today (Thursday 22 September), show that waiting lists have grown to a record of over 743,000 patient pathways.

Responding to these figures, Member of the Senedd for Ynys Môn and Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for health and social care, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said:

“We’ve reached a stage – and it’s been clear to me that we’ve been here for some time – that the pressures being faced by our NHS are not just simply about seasonality. We’re at the end of the summer, waiting lists are as long as ever – with many important metrics getting worse – and this isn’t just about clearing the backlog from ‘winter pressure’. In fact, the problems being faced by our NHS pre-date the pandemic.

“Clearly, we need to see action taken now to increase capacity and to improve patient flow, but the Welsh Government has to ensure that things are sustainable for the long term. That has to include a dramatic change in attitudes – and Government funding – towards preventative health measures. We need a prevention revolution to help release the pressure on our NHS.”

Responding to reports from the BBC that patients are paying for operations abroad rather than facing long waits in Wales, Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“Too many people are being left to wait in pain for too long – is it any wonder that they are seeking solutions elsewhere? The key principle of the NHS is that ‘good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth’ and yet one consequence of ever-lengthening waiting lists is the entrenchment of a three tier healthcare system – those that can afford private healthcare from the start, those who have the means to pay for treatment after waiting for too long, and everyone else.”

ENDS

BBC article: NHS waiting list in Wales: Patients turn to surgery abroad – BBC News

BOOM POWER’S ANGLESEY SOLAR FARM PLANS “ON HOLD”

Rhun ap Iorwerth, Member of the Senedd for Ynys Môn has welcomed confirmation from Boom Power that their plans for solar farms at Llanbabo and Llechcynfarwy are “on hold” following a recent announcement from Welsh Government, outlining their position that solar farms should not be granted planning consent agricultural land that is classed as ‘Best and Most Versatile’ (BMV land).

Boom Power’s plans included proposals to develop a solar farm on approximately 64 hectares of land, the majority of which has since been classed as Best and Most Versatile as per the Agricultural Land Classification maps published by Welsh Government.

Mr ap Iorwerth recently pursued the significance of BMV land classification in the Senedd, where he welcomed a strengthening view that retaining the best and most versatile land for agriculture is more important than ever.

In response to Boom Power’s announcement, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said:

“Today’s announcement from Boom Power – who had plans for solar farms at Llanbabo and Llechcynfarwy – is a significant one for all solar developments on Ynys Môn. I’m pleased that they have taken the decision to put their plans on hold because of national policy guidance announced earlier this year which outlined the importance of keeping our best and most versatile land for agricultural and food production use.

“Other solar developers must now take note of this decision.

“I spoke about the need to protect agricultural land from solar over-development in the Senedd earlier this year, and in further written questions to Ministers. Just a few weeks ago I highlighted this to the planning hearings assessing the Traffwll solar farm proposal near Bryngwran. Solar is fine in principle as part of the renewable energy mix, but only if it’s in the right place, brings genuine community benefit and doesn’t jeopardise food production on good agricultural land.”

ENDS

“I’m hugely disappointed that Holyhead faces yet another blow” – Rhun ap Iorwerth MS on Lloyds Bank Holyhead branch closure announcement

Responding to the announcement that Lloyds Bank intend to close their Holyhead branch on 23rd January 2023, Rhun ap Iorwerth, Member of the Senedd for Ynys Môn said:

 

“I’m hugely disappointed that Holyhead faces yet another blow with another bank closure. We’ve seen too many banks turn their backs on Anglesey over the years.

 

“I will be arranging to meet with Lloyds to discuss further, and to emphasise the strength of feeling following this announcement – surely there are more innovative ways of ensuring that banks remain open in our communities. I’ve called on them to work together in the past to bring their services under one roof, for example. Having face to face banking interaction is crucial for many.

 

“We’re told that a community banker will be visiting the area for ‘a short period of time after the branch closes’ to offer support and guidance. But my question is why will this service only be available for a short period of time? I’m afraid it’s not much of a consolation.

 

“It’s a matter that I’ve raised time and time again, big banks are simply turning their backs on rural communities such as Ynys Môn. We cannot rely on them, and I’m very supportive of the work being done to develop a new Banc Cambria initiative.”

 

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An insight into a Member of the Senedd’s work – Owain Sion

Owain Sion, a pupil from Ysgol David Hughes, Menai Bridge joined Rhun ap Iorwerth and the team this week on work experience. Here’s what he had to say after a busy week working in the constituency office in Llangefni, and the Senedd in Cardiff Bay:

“The last week has been an eye-opener to how active an individual needs to be in order to be able to serve their community. From sending endless emails, to researching various issues, to assisting and listening to constituents’ concerns – the work is non-stop, but extremely rewarding when a case is resolved and one can see that democracy is working on Anglesey.

“I would like to thank the whole Plaid Cymru team in Anglesey, but specifically Rhun, Non Dafydd and Heledd Roberts in Cardiff for letting me have an insight into their work and for the advice that will be of use to me wherever I go.”

Thank you for joining us Owain, and good luck in the future – keep in touch!

MORE SUPPORT NEEDED FOR PEOPLE LIVING IN FUEL POVERTY

Rhun ap Iorwerth calls for more action to help those most vulnerable with rising fuel and energy costs

Today in the Senedd, Rhun ap Iorwerth, Member of the Senedd for Ynys Môn, asked Welsh Government’s Minister for Social Justice what steps are being considered to provide additional support to those living in fuel poverty ahead of the anticipated rise in the energy price cap later this year.

Up to 45% of all Welsh households could be in fuel poverty following the price cap increase of April 2022, using the Welsh fuel poverty measure. The last estimates collected for Ynys Môn in 2018 estimated a rate of fuel poverty higher than the Welsh national average at the time.

In his question to the Minister, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said:

“The level of people in fuel poverty is astonishing, and we see how the cost in terms of energy and fuel as part of the cost-of-living crisis more broadly is deepening from day to day, nearly, and the financial hardship that some of our most vulnerable constituents are seeing.

“There is an expectation for fuel prices to rise again, as the cap rises further later in the year. And my question is: what steps are the Welsh Government taking now to consider the options for providing additional support to our most vulnerable constituents when that heavier blow arrives later in the year?”

In response, Jane Hutt, the Minister for Social Justice agreed with the comments, and whilst noting some of the further measures being taken by Welsh Government – including starting to pay the next iteration of the fuel support scheme earlier, she also called on the UK Government’s responsibility to address the energy price rises.

Mr ap Iorwerth also referred to the impact the cost of living is having in Ynys Môn and the rise in demand for foodbanks. He congratulated the new joint partnership of Anglesey Council and Wild Elements announced this week, an innovative local project to supply Anglesey food banks with fresh produce.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS added:

“The work being done locally to support those most in need and feeling the pinch of the cost of living crisis is so very appreciated – but it is shameful that we need these measures.

“There is much more that can be done to tackle this crisis. UK Government must also take action to lower the price cap for lower income households to ensure they can meet costs of their energy needs amongst other crucial measures.”

ENDS

“It’s disgraceful that it has taken until now to start seeing things from the perspective of women and girls in healthcare” says Ynys Môn MS

Rhun ap Iorwerth welcomes Welsh Government’s ten-year women’s health plan but insists that it must bring real change

On Tuesday 5 July 2022, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS responded to the Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan’s quality statement on women and girls’ health. In that statement, Welsh Government also announced plans for an autumn publication of a ten-year women’s health plan. This comes two months after Plaid Cymru tabled a motion to the Senedd emphasising the importance of addressing issues around women and girls’ health.

Whilst welcoming the statement, Rhun ap Iorwerth, Member of the Senedd for Ynys Môn asked for an assurance that adequate resources would be set aside to implement the plan, emphasising the need for it to make a real difference to women and girls’ lives.

The British Heart Foundation estimates that the deaths of 8,000 women over a 10-year period could have been prevented if they had received cardiac care suited to their needs.

In his response to the plans, Rhun ap Iorwerth, Member of the Senedd for Ynys Mon said:

“It is astonishing and disgraceful, if truth be told, that it has taken us until now to start seeing things from the perspective of women and girls in healthcare.”

Mr ap Iorwerth, a member of the Senedd’s Health and Social Care Committee and Plaid Cymru spokesperson on Health and Care, not only questioned how the plan would be financed but also how progress would be measured, stressing the need to ensure that a real change is made to the care that women and girls receive.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS added:

“It is crucial that women feel a difference, and that we as parliamentarians see that the plan announced by Welsh Government makes a difference.

“I therefore asked the Minister how women will be able to witness and get a feeling that there has been a change and that that change is having a clear impact on the care that they receive within our health and care services.”

The Minister, Eluned Morgan MS, announced that health boards would have to meet the plan within their own resources but that in its development £160,000 of additional finance has been set aside.

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CANCER PATIENTS “BEING FAILED” BY “LACK OF COMPREHENSIVE CANCER STRATEGY”

Calls for greater clarity and urgency on Cancer Plan for Wales

 

Rhun ap Iorwerth, Member of the Senedd for Ynys Môn and Plaid Cymru’s health and care spokesperson, has called for greater clarity and urgency on Welsh Government plans for Cancer Services in Wales.

 

The calls come ahead of Cancer Research UK’s annual Senedd reception today (Tuesday 28 June), sponsored by Rhun ap Iorwerth MS.

 

Mr ap Iorwerth says that patients are “being failed” by a “lack of comprehensive strategy” on how Welsh Government intends to meet its targets.

 

Welsh Government has recently increased the target for patients to receive their first treatment within 62 days – from 75% to 80%. However, in April, just 56.4% patients started their treatment within the target time, a trend which is declining.

 

It has been over a year since Welsh Government published a Quality Statement for Cancer, which replaced the lapsed Cancer Delivery Plan.

 

This lack of a cancer strategy puts Wales at odds with the World Health Organisation’s recommendations that every country should have one in place.

 

In answer to recent Written Questions, the Health Minister has suggested that a new cancer plan may be forthcoming, but in different answers has suggested different timeframes for delivery.

 

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS will ask the First Minister for an update on Welsh Government’s cancer services action plan today in the Senedd (Tuesday 28 June) during Questions to the First Minister.

 

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said:

 

“Wales urgently needs a Cancer action plan to deal specifically with the need for early diagnosis and rapid treatment, and the wider need for patients to be supported throughout the system.

 

“It’s now sixteen months since the Cancer Quality Statement was published and in that time, patients are less likely to start their first treatment within the target time that when the statement was published. This simply isn’t good enough – put simply, cancer patients are being failed.

 

“Setting an ambitious target is not enough, it’s imperative that Welsh Government has a clear strategy on how they intend to meet it. But Wales doesn’t have that – instead, we have an incoherent mishmash of programmes and frameworks, and a complete lack of clarity on when a comprehensive strategy might arrive. If we are serious about getting to grips with cancer then we need a Cancer Strategy, and we need it now.”

ENDS

“I want Wales to get excited about Hydrogen!” – Rhun ap Iorwerth MS

Plaid Cymru motion calling for a Hydrogen Strategy for Wales passed in the Senedd

Plaid Cymru led a debate in the Senedd on 15 June, calling for a comprehensive Welsh Government Hydrogen Strategy that will provide long term environmental and economic benefits for Ynys Môn and Wales. The motion received cross-party support and was passed unopposed.

Rhun ap Iorwerth, Member of the Senedd for Ynys Mon has repeatedly called on Welsh Government to pursue opportunities in this “rapidly accelerating” sector, having first raised the potential of Hydrogen in the Senedd in 2020, where he emphasised the need for a swift action plan.

In today’r debate Mr ap Iorwerth pointed to Anglesey as a prime location to implement a Hydrogen Strategy due to existing offshore wind energy generation developments and gas pipeline infrastructure but reiterated that Government investment is now needed in this area of enormous potential for green growth. He emphasised that although there is strong multi sector activity in hydrogen, Wales does not yet have a coherent, strategic framework in which to steer progress and called for a ‘comprehensive government strategy which sets out clear goals and ambition – and as soon as possible.’

Following the debate, Rhun ap Iorwerth, Member of the Senedd for Ynys Môn said:

“I’m excited about the real potential to develop the hydrogen sector in Wales – on Ynys Môn especially, and the job opportunities it could bring, and I’m really pleased to see Welsh Government share my excitement.

“Today offers a clear statement that Wales wants to be an innovator in hydrogen – tackling climate change, transitioning to a new kind of industry, changing communities and creating jobs. Plaid Cymru is determined that Wales must be a part of that revolution.

“It’s crucial now that Welsh Government build on the ‘hydrogen pathway’ they refer to, and ensure that it offers a clear strategy, with well targeted investment to ensure that we can maximise the massive opportunities the hydrogen sector represents for the Welsh economy, jobs, our communities and the environment and meet our decarbonisation targets.”

Hydrogen is recognised for its potential to provide green energy and decarbonise the transport and industry sectors. It has the potential to fuel HGVs and public transportation, heat and power homes and reduce reliance on fossil fuels by diversifying energy sources, and Mr ap Iorwerth is keen to ensure that Anglesey is at the forefront of developments in Wales – building on the exciting Hydrogen Hub plans in Holyhead, led by Menter Môn.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS added:

“Hydrogen is at the forefront of the energy debate and things are rapidly accelerating in this sector worldwide – and there is so much potential for Anglesey, and Wales to play its part.

“We have Menter Môn’s plans in place for an initial, small scale hydrogen hub in Holyhead which I know will be just the first step towards much bigger developments in years to come. Ynys Môn has the potential to be champions in the Hydrogen sector.

“This has to be a ‘we will leave no stone unturned moment’. We’re at the advent of a new industry and now is the time for Wales to roll up its sleeves and be serious about becoming a real player in it.”

ENDS

ALARMING STATISTICS REVEAL THAT TARGETS ARE STILL NOT BEING MET

Rhun ap Iorwerth calls for a revolution in both and health and care to improve NHS waiting times.

 

The latest NHS waiting times have been released, and reveal that targets are still not being met.

 

Across all data, targets are not being met, with ambulance response times a particular worry. .

 

Despite a decrease in attendance at A&E departments, the four and twelve hour targets were the third and second lowest on record respectively. The average time spent in emergency departments was also the second longest on record, at three hours and two minutes.

 

Although there was an improvement in cancer diagnosis and treatment from the last month, there is still a lot of improvement to be made in the efficiency for Cancer patients.

 

Rhun ap Iorwerth has continued to call for fundamental changes to be made to reduce pressure on the NHS – these include preventative measures, improved social care to help discharge patients, investment in the workforce, and specific diagnostic and treatment centres.

 

Rhun ap Iorwerth, Member of the Senedd for Ynys Môn and Plaid Cymru’s Health and Care spokesperson:

 

“When we consider the scale of problems within the NHS, be it waiting times for diagnosis and treatment or ambulance delays, we have to think of the health and care system as a whole, and the truth is that all too often it is in gridlock. We are seeing poor patient flow through the system, together with a lack of capacity to deal with demand.

 

“To deal with demand, there has to be a revolution in attitudes towards prevention. To improve patient flow we have to strengthen social care. And to deal with capacity, we must accelerate investment in workforce and in specific measures like diagnostic and treatment centres that can be protected from emergency pressures. Without all of this, we’ll keep going around in circles.”

 

ENDS

‘INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION’ CALL BY YNYS MÔN MS AFTER NURSES’ CONCERNS RAISED IN THE SENEDD

After highlighting concerns by Ysbyty Gwynedd nurses about working conditions and treatment of staff, Rhun ap Iorwerth calls for action by Betsi Cadwaladr

Rhun ap Iorwerth, Ynys Môn’s Member of the Senedd and Plaid Cymru spokesperson on Health and Care, has written to the Chief Executive and Chair of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board asking for serious and urgent action after receiving an anonymous email outlining concerns about the working conditions of nurses at Ysbyty Gwynedd.

Rhun ap Iorwerth initially raised his concerns with the Health Minister, Eluned Morgan MS in the Senedd last week, where he asked for an assurance that the concerns – which include bullying in the workplace, pressure to move from specialist areas to other wards and departments placing patients at risk, unreasonably long working hours, a poor relationship with management resulting in low morale and many staff leaving – would be taken seriously.

As a result of that contribution in the Senedd, many more nurses have been in touch with the Ynys Môn MS, to thank him for bringing up the matter, and to bravely share their experiences, echoing concerns raised by the whistle blower who initially got in touch.

Rhun ap Iorwerth, Member of the Senedd for Ynys Môn said:

“I was deeply saddened to learn about the very serious concerns of our nurses. Initially one nurse gathered together evidence from her colleagues and passed them to me anonymously as they were so fearful of repercussions.

“After I brought them to the attention of the Health Minister in the Senedd, nurse after nurse made contact with me to confirm and emphasise the concerns.

“I have therefore written to BCUHB, calling on them to conduct an independent investigation. It’s clear to me that there’s a lack of trust in the Health Board’s whistleblowing processes, and our nurses must be given the opportunity to be heard.

Amongst the correspondence received, many nurses have confirmed that they have left their posts at Ysbyty Gwynedd or the profession entirely, and many have stated that they are actively considering handing in their notice.

A nurse who initially contacted the Anglesey MS to express her concerns said:

“We as a workforce wanted to raise an anonymous concern about our working conditions at Ysbyty Gwynedd and contacted Rhun ap Iorwerth to that effect.

“Burnout is at an all time high at the site amongst nurses and other healthcare workers, and staff morale has never been so low. Many have chosen to leave their posts. We already work long hours and then feel pressured to take on more shifts – often redeployed to areas where we do not specialise – to help with staffing shortages. It is impossible to possess a high standard of nursing knowledge for every speciality that an individual could be covering from one day to the next.

“The situation has been escalating for years and has now reached a crisis stage with no solution.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS added:

“What’s hugely worrying is the impact that the current working conditions are having on staff numbers and morale. Some have concluded that they want to leave their posts, and that many have already left.

“At a time when we face staff shortages following the pandemic, we need to be looking at new ways of attracting new nurses to the profession and increasing training places. But we must also be able to retain the staff we already have, with their invaluable experience and knowledge.”

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