Minutes of the AGM, SHA Cymru Wales held on 28th November 2013

at Unison offices, Cardiff

 Present

Guest Speaker: Mark Drakeford, Jonathan Davies: Special Adviser, Richard Bourne- SHA Chair, 12 members

The Chair introduced the guest Speaker, Mark Drakeford, Welsh Health Minister.

Open Part of the Meeting : Guest Speaker

The Minister made the following points:

  • The age of austerity was the most pressing issue; for the first time since devolution the Assembly’s budget was reducing in real terms, with 2015 spending back to 2005 levels
  •  Wales has the worst  “Barnett” settlement of all the four countries with Wales assessed as being £400m worse off than comparable English regions – and the NHS  receiving £150m less
  • The 2015 General Election will be crucial for the survival of the NHS: if Labour is returned then the NHS could be slowly regrown; in this scenario much of NHS Wales could, with difficulty, be preserved until then
  • If after 2015 a Conservative Government is returned, then it will carry out a full blooded attack on State services in general and the NHS in particular; current attacks on the NHS are part of a sustained attempt to undermine and discredit it. By 2020, the NHS will not  exist; it will be handed over to what the Tories will present as “better providers”. This would have a massive effect on Wales as the Barnett  consequences worked through; NHS Wales could not be sustained in these circumstances as it would take 65% of the block vote
  • In these circumstances, NHS Wales could take one of three equally unattractive roads – do the minimum, implement charges, or try to create a radically different approach to care. The “Caerphilly study” has shown how much impact can be made on ill health by people being helped to take  control of their own health – requiring major changes to primary care and A&E services. Elective services too would have to be confined to those with clearly prioritised clinical needs
  • There may also be a need for the legislative role to come into play.

In discussion it was noted that Wales needed radically to re-design primary care, but this had never really been attempted by the WG. Many people would be pauperised – and then demonised – by the neo-liberals at the same time as other changes would increase the fragility of many lives.  The Tories seek to disguise problems until 2015 and the extra spending released in England to cover up a deteriorating situation has not been properly reflected in Barnett consequentials for Wales. NHS Wales will be constantly attacked as the Tories try to allege failures to show how badly the NHS model performs.

Yet if Labour wins the 2015 election, NHS Wales is well placed to survive; it would still be intact, debt free, and with a strong public service ethos. patients still value the NHS and will protect it – so long as their own experience of it remains good. Compassionate and dignified care was essential.   However, if the Scots choose independence, then the immediate choices for Wales become stark; Wales too might need to seek its own destiny.

 AGM Business

1. Apologies Paul Elliot, Jeff Baker, Sarah

2. Minutes of the Last AGM

It was noted that the last AGM was held in early 2012 and an earlier 2013 AGM was not quorate. That AGM had merely confirmed the officers currently holding posts who would report to the meeting.

3. Chair’s report

One open meeting had been held with guest speakers Prof.  Marcus Longley and Helen Birtwhistle exploring a socialist approach to re-structuring secondary care in Wales. The SHA had responded to the consultation paper. Officers had subsequently attended several local events to contribute to the debate.  The work of Wilkinson and Pickett (The Spirit level) had been supported and it was hoped to explore this further in 2014. New forms of meeting, such as teleconferencing, were being explored for all Wales meetings.

4. Secretary’s report      

SHA Cymru Wales had continued to contribute to the debate about NHS restructuring in Wales and a meeting with the NHS Director would be held early in 2014 to explore further the robustness of All Wales capacity planning across the care system. Officers had  followed progress with Welsh legislation (Social Care and Public Health). Officers had regularly attended the Central Council to report on Welsh matters and to aid the work of English colleagues in their various campaigns. Such work including the re-design of the SHA web site, and helping to shape the latest health and social care policy submission to the Labour Party. A meeting had been held with Mark Drakeford to offer views on how the “Balance of Care” in Wales could be altered. The Minister had invited ideas on how co-production could be improved  – especially for older people with complex care needs. This work was in hand.

5. Treasurer’s Report               

The accounts were presented and agreed. A balance of £612-39p was held.

6. Election of officers

The following were elected:

  • Chair          Alison Scouller
  • Secretary  Tony Beddow
  • Treasurer   Philippa Ford
  • Delegates to Council    Alison Scouller, Tony Beddow  David LL Davies

7. Programme of work for 2014

Officers were asked to include:

  • work on a remodelling of primary care using directly employed staff and  publicly owned facilities
  • work on comparing the English and Welsh care systems to aid the defence of the Welsh model
  • work on the NHS as a key part of the wider Welsh economy.
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