The Rhondda AM has put the Labour First Minister on the spot for giving assurances about the future of the Royal Glamorgan’s A&E department last summer.
Leanne Wood put Mark Drakeford under pressure by reading back comments he made about recruitment consultant at the Royal Glam A&E which health board officials now want to weaken.
The senior management at Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board claim a consultant shortage is forcing their hand into removing consultant-led A&E cover completely or partially.
They also say they are following through on the Labour Government’s hospital centralisation agenda which was laid out in the South Wales Programme in 2014.
This week, Ms Wood read Mark Drakeford’s own words back to him from June of last year in response to a question from her about filling vacancies at the A&E department.
She said: “At a packed meeting that Plaid Cymru organised in Porth last night, the anger and frustration from people were palpable.
“False assurances have been given in the past about hospital services. Just eight months ago, in June of last year, I asked you to give guarantees about the future of A&E at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital and the recruitment of unfilled posts, and, in reply to me, you said, and I quote:
'where people move on, and people do get new jobs and go further in their careers, those posts will be replaced. They will be replaced, we hope, by substantive posts, and a number of expressions of interest for vacancies at the Royal Glamorgan have already been received and are being considered by the health board. If we have to fill those posts on a temporary basis by locum appointments, then that's what we will do. That is the future for that emergency department, and I'm very glad to have had the opportunity to put that on the record here this afternoon.'
“Can you, First Minister, tell the people in the Rhondda what has changed since last June? Can you tell me why you were prepared to give those assurances then, but you're now advising local politicians to stay out of the discussion about the future of the Royal Glamorgan's A&E department?”
In response, Mr Drakeford said: “When I spoke in June of last year, I said what I said because it was the position at the time that the local health board were attempting to recruit substantively to vacancies; if they weren't able to recruit substantively, that they would aim to recruit locum consultants in their place.
“That is what the health board was doing then; it's what the health board has done in the interim. There comes a point when local clinicians believe that continuing the current service is not viable, would not be safe for patients, and they wanted to discuss alternatives with their local population.
“I hope that the health board will take every step to make sure that it engages directly with local representatives and local patients as part of that. But, given that that is the conclusion they have reached, they are surely right to have that conversation.”
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