Today, tomorrow and Today.
- 14 January 2013
- From the section Wales
When should you stop wishing people a happy new year?
Not the most pressing problem facing Carwyn Jones in January 2013 maybe but one he grappled with briefly this morning - before taking on the more sticky issues coming his way, the sort of 'sticky' that can cling to governments and cause ministers to, well, come unstuck.
Tomorrow we find out just how the Hywel Dda local health board has decided its services must be reconfigured. Tomorrow we won't be talking about 'gearing up' to change in West and in Mid Wales. We won't be talking about the prospect of change. This will be the real thing, the sort of change that saves a lot of money by closing some services and centralising them in fewer, larger hospitals.
Then on Friday we'll do it all over again, except this time it's the people of North Wales who'll find out what their local health board has decided and what, if you receive your care from the Betsi Cadwaladr LHC - "centralisation" means. You'll find out which doors will close, which will open and how that is going to affect your care.
We'll hear the words fewer, better, more specialised, more efficient, safter too uttered by those who've made the decisions. We'll hear too far, too risky, too driven by cost cutting from those afraid of the implications of those decisions for their parents, their children, themselves. And we'll keep hearing David Cameron homing in on - and questioning - the state of the NHS in Wales under Labour
Then, there's education.
Big territory, big sticky issues. So let's narrow it down and take a look at these extracts from a letter sent to the Children and Young People Committee and to the Education Minister this week. It's from the Welsh Joint Education Committee, a body that last year found out what happens when you don't do as the Minister tells you. He orders you to do as he tells you.
It's a body of officials who must be wondering whether they are long for this world. Who regulates the qualifications young people gain in Wales, how the whole sector is organised structurally, what those qualifications should be are all matters up for discussion. More decisions to be taken in 2013 - and the WJEC wants its voice heard.
It's not against change and welcomes much of what's been recommended. But in the letter its Chief Executive refers to "several real concerns" about the way the government is going about implementing them: "there is potential to do immense damage by getting this wrong."
It'll be got right - or wrong - in 2013.
The biggest matter of all? The one the Housing Minister, Huw Lewis, described this morning as the UK government having "its hand on our throats". What will Carwyn Jones and his government do when the arguments over social "fairness" and changes to benefits are increasingly felt in pounds and pence and pockets in 2013? Will they stick to the approach they've taken so far and took to the wire at the end of 2012? That they feel the pain of those losing council tax benefit, that they condemn the UK government for making the cut but argue they just don't have the money to ease the pain?
Tomorrow, you may get answers to some of those questions. I'm not pinning all my hopes on First Minister's Questions - oh no I'm not - but tune in to Today on Radio 4 at 8.30am or thereabouts to hear the First Minister facing up to 2013, happy or otherwise.