Wales politics

Vaughan Gething's late NHS inquiry appearance 'disappointing'

Vaughan Gething
Image caption Vaughan Gething has offered to meet opposition party spokespeople before his inquiry appearance

AMs conducting an inquiry into how prepared the Welsh NHS is for winter have said they are "disappointed" the health secretary will not appear before them until mid-November.

Health committee chair Dai Lloyd said he would "ideally" have liked to see Vaughan Gething earlier because "we're talking winter preparedness".

Tory Angela Burns said the delay would result in an "ineffectual" report.

The Welsh Government said it was not possible to get an earlier date.

The inquiry, by the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee, was launched to seek "assurance that the Welsh NHS is equipped to deal with pressures on unscheduled care services during the coming winter".

Since the end of September three evidence sessions have been held with relevant bodies such as local health boards, the British Medical Association and Care Forum Wales.

The last meeting was on Wednesday, four weeks before Mr Gething's scheduled appearance.

Image caption Committee chair Dai Lloyd hosts regular sessions as a GP in Swansea, as well as being an AM

Plaid Cymru AM Dr Lloyd said: "I was slightly disappointed and the committee was slightly disappointed that the health secretary couldn't turn up as part of the review until 17 November.

"It was an issue of works pressure on his part and really we have no choice but to accept that.

Asked if he would liked to have seen the minister earlier, he said: "Ideally, yes, because we're talking winter preparedness and mid-November is already in winter."

Dr Lloyd added that most evidence suggested the pressure on the NHS was all year round and only in certain circumstances were there particular winter issues.

Conservative health spokeswoman Ms Burns said the committee was "beginning to form a view, we've taken all of our witnesses, our interviews, and it would be nice now to go back to the minister with what we've found".

"This enormous delay does mean that any report we produce is going to be pretty ineffectual for this time around, I think it's deeply regrettable," she said.

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said it was not possible to get a date which suited both timetables, but the cabinet secretary was keen to appear in person rather than send a senior health official.

"He would be happy to meet with opposition spokespeople at an earlier date to brief them," she said.

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