A day in the life of the Welsh NHS

I'm sure there were thousands of appointments, operations and scans carried out successfully in the Welsh NHS yesterday by many dedicated professionals, but you wouldn't know it from the media coverage.

First of all we had a set of ambulance response times that were described as a "national disgrace" and a "fiasco" by opposition parties.

The figures show that in February, 53% of life threatening calls resulted in an ambulance arriving within eight minutes, compared with a 65% target.

At the same time the Welsh government announced a change in the indicators used to measure performance.

What followed then was the accusation that it is cynically trying to change the targets because it simply cannot meet them.

It's an accusation it has faced before and one which it must know will come its way on days like that.

The main defence used numerous times by the Health Minister Mark Drakeford is that the eight minute target doesn't measure patient outcomes.

He says there's something wrong when an ambulance crew can hit the target in seven minutes even if the patient dies, and yet a crew can miss the target by responding in nine minutes even if the patient survives.

Secondly, during Welsh Question Time in the Commons, Conservative MPs appeared to be queuing up to criticise the state of health services.

It ranged from those with border constituencies to Simon Burns, a former health minister and MP for Chelmsford in Essex.

The Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith called it a "Tory War on Wales" and used the kind of tone I think we'll be seeing more of in Llandudno at Welsh Labour's Spring conference this weekend. It might have been the first moment in a co-ordinated Labour fight back.

My colleague David Cornock has written a full account of proceedings in his blog.

And thirdly, a story which I was most involved with was the row over whether Ann Clwyd - the Labour MP for the Cynon Valley and person who has led much of the criticism of standards of care in Wales - should be allowed to give evidence to the assembly's health committee. This is the main body that scrutinises the Welsh government on health.

Plaid put in the proposal to call her but it was blocked by Labour members who said it would have been constitutionally inappropriate for a backbench MP to comment on devolved matters.

The opposition parties went to town. The criticism ranged from putting party politics above scrutiny to simply gagging debate.

It was a situation where Plaid could not lose and Labour couldn't win.

From Labour's perspective, if it said yes then there would have inevitably been something of a media circus surrounding her appearance in front of the committee.

And again from its perspective it would have given more ammunition to the kind of coverage which is producing a negative narrative about Welsh health services.

Many of course say this is the truth coming out while Labour insists many of the stories are inaccurate and unfair.

Say no and Labour AMs risked the kind of attacks they had about shutting down scrutiny. I suspect they were more prepared for the latter, rather than the former.