Wales politics

Wales NHS inquiry call dismissed by first minister

Carwyn Jones
Image caption Carwyn Jones says problems in the Welsh NHS are being addressed

The first minister has dismissed calls for an inquiry into the running of the NHS in Wales.

Nearly three-quarters of people surveyed by the Welsh Conservatives said they wanted an independent inquiry into the health service.

The Tories have proposed elected health commissioners which they claim would make the NHS more accountable.

But Carwyn Jones said the criticism was based on historic issues going back years which were being addressed.

Previous calls for inquiries have come from the British Medical Association and Labour MP Ann Clwyd.

Plaid Cymru has urged a radical shake-up of the Welsh NHS while the Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for an all-party commission to examine its future.

'Culture change'

Speaking in Bridgend at his monthly news conference, Mr Jones said: "To suggest that the NHS in Wales is somehow in every way in a more difficult state than in England is quite simply wrong.

"At the end of the day you have to find sufficient money to pay for a health service with an ever-ageing population and that will always be a challenge for any government."

He added that he did not trust the Department of Health in England which he said was "the most politicised department" he had to deal with.

However, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said their survey of more than 3,000 health service users showed the need for a "culture change" at the heart of the Welsh NHS, where patients felt their complaints were handled poorly.

"Elected health commissioners will put the patient voice at the heart of decision making in the NHS, transferring decision making over health services from central government and into the hands of the people," he said.

"You vote them in, and you vote them out - that's our vision for patient voice in the Welsh NHS."

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams repeated her call for an all-party commission, saying: "Labour's-running of the NHS in Wales is nothing short of a national scandal.

"If English voters want to see what a Labour health service will look under Ed Miliband they should look no further than Wales."

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