Wales politics

Lesley Griffiths' leadership questioned by RCN chief

Health Minister Lesley Griffiths's leadership has been called into question by the head of the nursing union in Wales.

Tina Donnelly, director of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Wales, said she has had limited contact with Mrs Griffiths, meeting her only once in the last 12 months.

Mrs Donnelly told The Wales Report on BBC Wales she was concerned about a perceived lack of focus about hospital reorganisation.

Mrs Griffiths refuted the claims and said she regularly met stakeholders.

Public consultations are taking place across Wales to consider proposals which will see many hospitals downgraded or lose services with new centres of excellence created.

The minister's role in what is being called the biggest ever shake up to the NHS in Wales, was the focus of an interview with Huw Edwards on The Wales Report on BBC Wales TV on Sunday night.

Mrs Donnelly said: "I'm concerned the health boards have been set up to fail.

"I have met with the health minister once. I think it's getting increasingly difficult to have regular conversations with the health minister."

When asked why, Mrs Donnelly replied: "I've no idea why."

Mrs Griffiths refuted the claims, explaining she regularly met with stakeholders.

"I have several meeting every week with stakeholders. More importantly I'm out in health care settings every week, talking to the staff on the front line," she said.

Further concerns about the financial implications of the changes have also been raised by leading health economists.

Prof Malcolm Prowle, a former financial adviser to the World Health Organisation, warned that the proposals had not been properly costed.

"What we are talking about at the moment is very much a blueprint of a vision," he said.

"We don't know what the cost implications of these proposed changes are and we don't know if it's affordable."

In a briefing paper written exclusively for The Wales Report, Prof Prowle and Dr Chris Potter, Powys' former director of public health, claimed that Wales was faring worse than England in many areas.

'Huge sums'

They draw a number of damning conclusions including "poor productivity", managers "not being allowed to manage" and a "lack of political consensus".

Mrs Griffiths said that local health boards had received enough support.

"The health boards have huge sums of money to work with," she said.

"We increased the money last year, we gave them additional funding over three years so they could put their financial plans on a stable setting."

The consultation process for two of the Betsi Cadwalader and Hywel Dda health boards comes to a close on 28 and 29 October. The remaining boards will conclude in early 2013.

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