Carwyn Jones: 'Lives will be at risk without NHS changes'

Flint protesters Protestors have campaigned against NHS changes in north Wales

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Lives will be put at risk if the health service does not change, First Minister Carwyn Jones has said.

He told AMs that some conditions had to be treated in centres of excellence, staffed by qualified professionals.

He said the Welsh government could not give a view on specific proposals because controversial decisions about them might be referred to ministers.

His comments come as local health boards (LHBs) publish plans on how they plan to deliver services.

LHB proposals could be referred to the Welsh government if community health councils - the patient watchdogs - object to them.

Hywel Dda, serving mid and west Wales, and Betsi Cadwaladr in north Wales have published their visions for their respective areas. Health boards in the rest of Wales are expected to report in the coming weeks.

At question time in the Senedd, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood accused the first minister of giving "non-committal" answers on health reorganisation.

'Safe and sustainable'

She asked whether he agreed with a proposal to move specialist intensive care for babies from north Wales to England.

Ms Wood also called on him to "oppose centralisation that puts lives at risk, especially in adverse weather conditions".

Mr Jones said he wanted to see "safe and sustainable services", adding: "No government would support any scheme that would put lives at risk.

"But the argument I would use with the leader of Plaid Cymru is this - if there is no change in the health service, lives will be put at risk."

He said it was impossible for ministers to express a view on individual proposals because "it would undoubtedly be used in any judicial review".

"Much as I would like to express a view, the reality is that cannot be done at this stage," he said.

"Of course as a government we will express a view in due course."

Conservative group leader Andrew RT Davies asked the Welsh government to consider Tory proposals to help small businesses borrow public money through high street banks.

Mr Jones said the government had a range of schemes to help businesses and pointed out that it had commissioned a review, led by Welsh Conservative economics guru Dylan Jones-Evans, into credit for businesses.

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams asked for any unspent money from the farm subsidies scheme Glastir to go towards farms in the most challenging areas at the end of the financial year.

Mr Jones said the Welsh government was providing the "right level of support" for farmers.

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