A health check on Labour pledges


Trouble comes in all shapes and sizes.

In Westminster David Cameron is in the firing line for trying to persuade his party to introduce something that wasn't in its manifesto.

In Cardiff Carwyn Jones is having to defend his government for not introducing something that was in his party's manifesto.

We're in "monumental climbdown", "U-turn", "broken pledge" territory. Instead of health checks with the doctor for all over 50s in Wales, they will instead be offered an "innovative" alternative at a time and place that suits them. In other words, the initial health check will be face to face with a computer screen instead.

Visit the 2011 Labour manifesto (yes, it too is online) and you'll see that the pledge they made then was clear enough:

Instigate a programme of annual health checks, led by GPs, practice nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals, for everyone over the age of 50 over the next Assembly term.

When the real work was put in to discover what it would cost to deliver - and what it would actually deliver the patient - it turned out be not such a good idea after all.

The Liberal Democrats pointed out this morning that when they asked GPs what they made of the pledge, their survey said "uh uh!" (Insert Kirsty Williams in Les Dennis/Vernon Kay mode.) "Labour should admit they stuck something in a manifesto that sounded good and would be popular - no more" she added. Labour would be forgiven for suggesting Lib Dems know a thing or two about that. and as we put it in Welsh, 'it takes a clean bird to sing'.

The opposition parties seem to accept the government's probably right not to deliver this one. Their problem is that they promised in the run-up to the election that they could and would.


"The health checks programme will provide a modern gateway to prevention and health information services in Wales, which can help people over the age of 50 to make choices to support better health and wellbeing."

In other words, over 50s can go online later this year, when the government has worked out how the service can be delivered, and those who actually need to see a GP can be identified and encouraged to visit the doctor.

It's more "second class substitute" than "modern gateway" say the Conservatives. Is it really worth pressing ahead with spending nearly three quarters of a million pounds over the coming financial year on a website ask Plaid Cymru, when other similar online advice sites already exist and where you'll inevitably attract the so-called "worried well" in enthusiastic droves? Better take the hit over a broken pledge (and Plaid know their fair share about that sort of thing too) than plough more money into a pretty expensive fig leaf, seems to be their take.

Yes, it's health again, the service that Carwyn Jones warned a few days ago would "collapse" unless it is reformed. The awkward truth for Mr Jones, of course, is not that he's wrong but that his party has been in charge of delivering health care in Wales since 1999. How do you argue successfully that reform is critical, when the service you're talking about was made by successive governments all led by your own party? The answer, of course, is that you point to Westminster public spending cuts and condemn the coalition for forcing your hand to make deeper cuts than you believe are right. But as Labour appeared to accept a few weeks ago, their constituents may sometimes feel that alibi can wear a little thin.

In three months' time Carwyn Jones' government will be two years old. It's a government and a leadership based on one word more than any other - delivery. If Mr Jones wasn't planning on delivering a coalition-style "full, frank and unvarnished progress report" he'll know now that opposition parties are very much on the case.

Betsan Powys, Political editor, Wales Article written by Betsan Powys Betsan Powys Former political editor, Wales

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  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Stafford Hospital: Five more English hospitals to be investigated. Should we be looking at England as a role model for good health practice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.


    So bitter Boxer

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    'Mind you it doesn't concern us,'
    Dear me. Such optimism. I bet you a stick of Barry Island rock that within 6 months Wales will be kitted out with its very own bilingual Complaints Commissioner.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    David Cameron Boxer. Mind you it doesn't concern us, so you can sleep comfortably in your bed. It is England only. Aren't you glad now we are Devolved. She was one of Tony Blair's biggest cheerleaders when he lied about the evidence on going to war with Iraq. Not that she didn't have reason with her evidence. But it wasn't the reason they did go to war sadly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    BTW Whose silly idea was it to appoint Ann Clwyd to look at NHS complaints? It is about as sensible as asking the parents of a murdered six -year-old to look at bail-hostel arrangements. Even if she were able to eliminate all personal memories and emotions, any criticism will be written off by NHS managers as 'Just what we expected from her'.
    We need 'Disinterested and seen to be disinterested.'

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    #32 The converse is that some GPs take part in 'clinical trials'' submit data on three patients, and then take their wives off to a 'Conference' in Majorca to discuss the results and play a little golf. Obviously you don't get to go if you prescribe a much cheaper drug. And the boss of the generic company doesn't take home a £12M bonus.
    It's not always possible to decide the best available.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Few of you raised prescriptions and I assume most of you would expect to get the best available treatment prescribed by your GP’s In Wales opposite is true your GP is compelled to give you cheapest generic drugs and better more effective treatment drugs are often withheld

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    So as said a saving none the less Boxer.

    It just frustrates me that we have this blanket approach policy. Its so wasteful.
    I am like many others, ave pay and ave lifestyle. I dont mind paying for perscriptions, why should people just except to have a free ride. Its wrong, and takes cash away from much more worthy people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    28 Boxer The figures are not clear. Before the introduction of free prescriptions around 67% of scripts (in Wales) were free of charge. So we used to charge for 33%. However the number of prescriptions issued has sky rocketed - particularly to those who used to pay. If charging was reintroduced we would probably recoup in excess of £300m. Consider how the WA could squander that

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    #27 Spin doctors rarely lie. They merely select the data that fits their case. So, the figure of £600M is probably accurate, but it implies to the gullible that if WG were to stop providing free prescriptions it would have the money for something else. Other people have pointed out that - given the usual exemptions : - children, OAPs, chronics etc; at most 20% would be available, say £120M.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    13 - Boxer,
    The said figure is on the BBC website - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-19421729

    So I am not sure what you mean? Are you saying the BBC figure is dishonest and false?
    Why is it not acceptable to quote a fact such as this? Or is it just you do not like the argument?

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    #23 Alf, I would have thought the answer was obvious, Alf. You have the nuclear power station; yoou use the power generated, you find a nice nearby mountain built of suitable rock and store the waste.
    To quote Sam, of Musket fame. 'Thy dropped it. Thy pick it up' It will be your waste [actually our waste, since I live here] we generate the waste, we take responsibility for disposal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Stafford Hospital: Hiding mistakes 'should be criminal offence'

    People in glass houses

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    23 Alf - I don't usually rate comments but I have rated both of yours +
    22 Woodsey - please comment on Welsh affairs. Tell us why our NHS has failed in it's provision of services to the deaf By the way there are nearly as many hearing impaired in Wales as Welsh speakers.
    21 Fo - to which you could add who would vote for any AM? ALL parties including the bigoted PC agree with CJ

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Seems someone didn't like my comment about Carwyn bumbling his way through being asked on good Morning Wales where we would put the waste from the new nuclear site on Ynys Mon. As Cumbria Council have rejected building new waste site.He couldn't answer it.will this one be taken off as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.


    Never mind you can still be an Anglophile if you want.

    And the over paid Civil Servants in Westminister and the 2billion to change the NHS in England.?

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Re 9


    And who would vote for Carwyn Jones?!

    Re 15


    I'm sure there is treatment for your paranoia even on your despised NHS Cymru

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    #18 'Can you give the English for Video?' The USP of Welsh is that it is a beautiful homogenous language. The USP of English is that is almost a creole: the grammer is simple, and the meaning is usually clear even if the grammer is wonky. And because its main roots are both the Germanic languages and the Southern European languages, it easily absorbs words from almost anywhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    # 18 wrote

    "Don't use Google Translate. Any linguistic knows that!! "

    Any LINGUIST may tell you that... but only because either they, or someone they know make a handsome living out of the Welsh Language translation industry ;)

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Did you hear the one about the Stafford Health Authority which is part of the English NHS. People in Glass Houses and all that. They are just as bad if not worse!
    Don't use Google Translate. Any linguistic knows that!! Cancer and Breast are not Welsh words. Q) Can you give the English for Video?


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