Wales politics

Wales 'moving forward, despite tough times', says Jones

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Media captionOpposition parties say the Welsh government is missing targets on health and education

The people of Wales "do not deserve to be told their country is bottom of the pile, time after time", First Minister Carwyn Jones has said.

Launching the Welsh government's annual progress report, he said Wales was "moving forward, despite tough times".

The report looks at how ministers are performing on 550 commitments, mostly made when Labour was elected in 2011.

But opposition parties said the document did not address failings in health and education.

On NHS waiting lists - long the subject of controversy over unfavourable comparisions with England - the report says: "We continue to bear down on referral to treatment times and diagnostic waiting lists.

"Health boards are in no doubt about our expectations that key targets must be met and we expect them to use the additional funding we are making available to deliver this for patients".

In education it says pupils and parents are benefiting from "a renewed level of rigour and challenge at every stage".

But there is no mention of the PISA international rankings, which last year saw Wales falling behind England and Scotland in Science, Maths and Reading.

Elsewhere the report says:

  • More than half of Welsh adults now hold an A-level or equivalent qualification
  • Wales has shown the biggest improvement in cancer survival amongst the four countries of the UK
  • 60.3% of social houses now meet the Welsh Housing Quality Standard
  • The target of recruiting 500 Community Support Officers has been met
  • The Jobs Growth Wales programme has created 13,223 job opportunities

Mr Jones told AMs: "The people of Wales are right to have high expectations of the services that they receive and I acknowledge that as resources go down and demand for services go up there will be inevitably some real delivery challenges.

"But the indicators we are publishing today are clear evidence that the Welsh economy and Welsh public services are moving forward despite tough times."


But opposition parties said the report did not address failings in health and education.

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies told Mr Jones: "It is not a rosy picture at all, first minister, and it clearly shows that your government is not delivering on health outcomes here in Wales.

He said ambulance response times and cancer targets were being "constantly missed".

"Above all," Mr Davies added, "colleagues across the chamber are dealing with closures of hospitals and services downgrades across the whole of Wales."

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said the document revealed Labour's "lamentable" record on public services and the need for a "change of direction".

She said: "In health, education, the Welsh language the progress is disappointing.

"This country has all the raw materials needed to deliver high quality public services and a strong, sustainable economy.

"That outcome is not being realised, and today's annual report really does confirm the need for change in direction."


Kirsty Williams, the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said: "Only today the first minister decided to sidestep questions about Wales falling behind in the international education tables by showing off that at least Welsh pupils are not taught in 'sheds'.

"Our Welsh NHS is making the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Important health targets are consistently being missed.

"Staff morale is being hit by these missed targets and Welsh patients deserve so much better than this."

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