Wales politics

Carwyn Jones criticises Ann Clwyd's attacks on Welsh NHS

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Media captionCarwyn Jones said Ann Clwyd, the MP for the Cynon Valley, had produced no evidence and no facts

First Minister Carwyn Jones has criticised Labour MP Ann Clwyd for her attacks on the state of the Welsh NHS.

He told AMs: "Ann Clwyd has produced no evidence and no facts."

She said last year that the deaths of patients waiting for heart surgery at University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, were the equivalent of the Stafford Hospital scandal.

Ms Clwyd said she had provided evidence and urged ministers to focus on the NHS "crisis" rather than attack her.

In her latest criticism, in an article in The Times newspaper on Monday, Ms Clwyd said the NHS in Wales was facing a "crisis" and the latest waiting times statistics were a "warning sign of deep problems in the Welsh NHS".

The Cynon Valley MP led a UK government-commissioned inquiry on how NHS hospitals in England handle complaints, and said she also received hundreds of letters from Welsh patients outlining poor experiences they had suffered.

Her work on the inquiry came about after a BBC interview in which she broke down, describing the poor care her late husband had received.

She said her husband Owen Roberts had died "like a battery hen" at the University Hospital of Wales.

During First Minister's Questions on Tuesday, Mr Jones said Ms Clwyd had been asked "on more than one occasion" to produce the evidence to back up her claims.

Mr Jones said Ms Clwyd had provided "anonymous" and "unattributable" comments that "can't be investigated".

When asked by Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies about Ms Clwyd's criticism of waiting times in the Welsh NHS, Mr Jones said: "I'm afraid Ann has based her allegations on the way her husband was treated.

"She has refused permission for the report surrounding her husband's treatment to be made public.

"I think it's important for people to make a judgement on what happened when that report is made public, but that is ultimately a matter, of course, for others."

'Casual reference'

In a statement issued on Tuesday evening, Ms Clwyd denied Mr Jones's suggestion that she had not backed up her claims.

"The fact is that I have sent considerable information to the first minister and to the health minister in the Welsh assembly, and also to Welsh assembly members - evidence of the widespread concerns about the performance of the NHS in Wales.

"I have also met with Carwyn Jones and [Health Minister] Mark Drakeford to further expand on those concerns.

"In addition to statistical data, I also sent them a summary of the concerns contained in the hundreds of letters I have received from Welsh patients."

Ms Clwyd said the identity of those patients "must always remain confidential", unless they gave permission for their names to be released.

"I am, however, upset by the irrelevant and casual reference to my husband's case in political and professional circles," she added.

"My complaint on this issue is still under way and has not yet been resolved.

"Additionally my husband's case is, on its own, far less important than the hundreds of letters it has brought forward from those whose experience was apparently similar to mine.

"I would far rather the assembly concentrate on resolving the current crisis in the NHS in Wales than attacking me personally."

'Ingrained problems'

Mr Davies said Welsh ministers should be "listening carefully and acting on her fears" rather than "condemning Ann Clwyd for speaking out".

"Each and every time Mrs Clwyd has raised concerns they have been proved correct," said the Welsh Conservative leader.

"I have asked the first minister if he will work with me to facilitate joint discussions with Ann Clwyd and, despite his response, I will continue to work towards this aim.

"Case after case, fault after fault, the deeply ingrained problems within Labour's NHS are clear for all to see."

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