Rhun ap Iorwerth’s column for the Anglesey Mail 14 09 16

The National Assembly for Wales is back in session. I enjoy spending as much time as possible out and about in the constituency, trying to help with a wide variety of issues that arise for individuals, businesses and other organisations. However, representing you in the Senedd is why an AM is elected, and the coming months promise to be busy, with plenty of matters on the agenda that are hugely important to us here on Ynys Môn.
Much of my time is taken by issues relating to the NHS, both as a member of the Assembly’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee and in my role as Shadow Health Secretary.
That role involves keeping pressure on the Labour Government to deliver a better, more resilient and sustainable health service. Government could be so much cleverer in the way it runs the NHS, I think. From opposition I and Plaid Cymru have recently been able to persuade ministers to set up a review of the way the NHS works in general, and a detailed review of Individual Patient Funding Requests, where patients can ask for funding for the latest treatments and medications. My hope is that this will lead to the end of the current postcode lottery where you can get some treatments in some areas of Wales, but not in others.
I met last week with heads of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and sought assurances about the future of services at Ysbyty Gwynedd and at Penrhos Stanley. They assured me that they want to strengthen those services, but we have to be on our guard to ensure that decisions taken in the context of scarce public funding don’t erode those services that are vital to us.
I also met some of Anglesey’s GPs last week. Primary care – your local surgery – has seen its share of total NHS funding erode over the years. Around 95% of patient contact with the NHS is with GPs and other staff at local surgeries, yet primary care gets just 7.5% of NHS funding. Let’s invest in this sector to save money down the line.
The same goes for Pharmacies. I visited the Rowlands pharmacy in Llanfairpwll last week to discuss the kinds of services that pharmacies can deliver directly to take the pressure of the GP and hospitals. They can – and want to – do much more.
The NHS means so much to us all. Let’s put it on a firmer footing.