Positions to fill

At the heart of many of the problems in the NHS is recruitment and it's something which both Labour and Plaid have been trying to address in their policies on health.

We knew that Labour was going to use the proceeds of its planned mansion tax for the NHS but it has now given us some details of how Wales would be affected.

It claims it will generate £120m extra a year for the training of 1,000 front-line medical staff.

The shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith says it will be one of five central policies in the run up to the general election.

The other ones we know of so far are the cost of living, the deficit and immigration. Another specific one for Wales will be released soon.

No guarantee

At his monthly news conference, First Minister Carwyn Jones claimed the extra 1,000 training places would lead to "a good many" students remaining in the Welsh system but there is no guarantee that they will remain in Wales.

So instead of paying for training, why doesn't the Welsh government try to deal with the problem directly by simply recruiting more doctors and nurses?

The first minister says the problem is that those potential staff don't exist in reality and, in a thinly veiled swipe at Plaid Cymru, he described the Labour pledge as deliverable.

The direct recruitment of 1,000 staff is a central policy of Plaid and it was set out in a news conference in Aberystwyth.

The party plans to pay for this using a sugary drinks levy, or pop tax.

Waiting times

Plaid says the Welsh government has slashed its recruitment budget and that little effort has been made by health boards to recruit from overseas.

The party's other central proposal on health is to reintegrate health and social care, something which Health Minister Mark Drakeford rejected this morning.

Plaid MP Hywel Williams, the party's public services spokesman, said: "Our plans will increase capacity, bring down waiting times, and improve patients flow through hospital and beyond."

All of this coincides with a week of coverage from BBC Wales about the state of the NHS.

There have been interesting findings from a poll of 1,000 people.

Personal responsibility

Among them is that 57% of those questioned thought that treatment should be stopped or limited to those who refuse to alter their lifestyles.

The Health Minister Mark Drakeford is big on personal responsibility and has shown himself more than willing to launch into this ethical debate.

On Good Morning Wales, he said he was against denying treatment but added that if you were a heavy smoker then certain treatments were already not being offered to you because they wouldn't be effective.

He said: "The consequences of lifestyle and the relationship between lifestyle and what you get on the NHS is already a live one and is going to be more of a live one as we go into the future."

I asked the first minister about potentially withdrawing treatment.

He said: "I think people are far less tolerant now of people who do not alter their lifestyles when it's known those lifestyles will worsen their condition.

"We would seek to encourage people to change their lifestyles, and I'm sure the medics will want to do the same as well, but I do not think we are in a position of saying to people at the moment 'sorry but if you do not change you will not have any treatment whatsoever'. That is a particularly draconian move."

People like me end up talking a lot about the specific targets in the NHS but these comments suggest the broader campaigns on public health will become just as important in the future as well.

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