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Morgan: Delivering a National Health Service

"Ladies and Gentlemen, tank you for such a warm welcome….

Whilst I am supposed to stick to the script in this session, I cannot resist paying tribute to the tremendous progress this Party has made over the last year, particularly in last May's Assembly elections.

No other Party even came close to what we achieved… a four fold increase in First Past the Post Members.

No other Party matched our increase in support at the constituency and regional level.

And no other Party benefits from the solid hard work and talent already shown by those new members of our team in Cardiff Bay since the elections.

There is no doubt that we now have the most talented team of any of the other Parties in Westminster and Cardiff Bay. Their dedication, their contributions and their determination to succeed for the people of Wales is second to none.

If this Party keeps up the same rate of progress in Wales, by May this year we will be in control of several local authorities and have more Welsh Councillors than we have had for almost 20 years.

I want to wish every Welsh Conservative Council candidate and every Councillor seeking re-election the very best of luck for May 1st.

We cannot expect to win at National Assembly or Parliamentary level without a solid showing in returned Councillors across Wales.

Personally, I would also like to wish Jonathan Evans the very best of luck in finishing the job in Cardiff North and joining me in representing a great part of our Capital City (not that he'll need it!). He is a personal friend, will make a superb MP, and yes I cannot wait to see him in David Cameron's Cabinet!

Ni all sefyllfa ymgyrchol Plaid Geidwadol Cymru fod yn well erbyn etholiadau'r llywodraeth leol a'r etholiad gyffredinol sydd yn bosibl unrhyw amser hyd at 2010.

Rydym yn gwybod yn iawn y niwed gall y Blaid Lafur wneud pan y maent yn dal pwer.

Rydym yn gwybod o brofiad chwerw y niwed wnaeth y Rhyddfrydwyr Democrataidd yn nhymor cyntaf y Cynulliad.

The Welsh Conservative Party could not be in a better campaigning position ahead of the local elections and a possible General Election anytime between now and 2010.

We already know the damage that Labour is capable of when they get their hands on power.

We know from bitter experience what a dreadful complement the Lib Dem's are to that damage from the first Assembly term.

And now we're learning just how backward Plaid Cymru can be when they turn their insular, one-track minds to Government.

Blindly ruling out private and voluntary sector involvement of any sort in the Welsh healthcare system, Plaid have shown the very same soviet style blinkered approach that the electorate so clearly told us they didn't want last May.

Plaid have decided that Wales is closed for business.

Theirs is the dangerous, Clause Four style of socialism which will lead Wales into the dark ages of central control.

Plaid seem to bring nothing but negatives to Government in Cardiff Bay.

They will be remembered for one thing; failing to lead a new administration in favour of propping up a failing Labour administration.

I suspect Rhodri Morgan is already wishing he'd opted for opposition when had to go down on bended knee asking Nationalists to join his Cabinet.

How low can you go?

Over the last five years or so, the Assembly Government has had a great opportunity.

From Westminster, billions of pounds in extra public cash have been poured into the health service right across the UK, and in turn, for the Welsh Assembly Government to distribute across Wales.

For a while, I must admit that Labour had me watching. Here was a Party that was putting its money where it's mouth was - well, your money to be precise but let's ignore that for the moment.

Local Health Boards here in Wales and Primary Care Trusts over in England were to receive an unprecedented influx of Government funding.

Labour trumpeted the extra investment as a result of their "sound financial management" of the economy.

We now know a rather different story on that score, but again let's skip that for the time being.

So where did all this cash go?

Where is that world class health system we were promised?

Where are all those shiny new hospitals up and down the land?

What happened to YOUR money?

The problem with the last question is that Labour don't actually know the answer, regardless of how many reviews they undertake or how many times I ask the question.

I wouldn't for a moment dispute their intention was well meaning. They wanted to improve the health system, just as any mainstream party would aspire to do.

The problem was how they went about it.

Since 2002, the Labour Assembly Government has set an extra 252 targets for the NHS to follow, health circulars, guidance and strategy documents all of which bury frontline staff in paperwork.

The biggest complaint I hear when I visit hospitals and GP surgeries across Wales is the constant interference from the Assembly Government.

And then there are the constant stream of reviews. The Assembly Government managed to instigate 16 different reviews in 10 months.

They've had more reviews than a West End Theatre. And

Yet they don't seem concerned by this approach. They cannot see the flaw in their rationale.

The only Party that is actually listening and willing to act on those concerns is this Party.

It may be convenient for some other political parties to change their tune on hospital closures from one year to the next, but the Welsh Conservatives have a different message. We are consistent in our policies, in our belief in a National Health Service, and in our defence of local services. And that defence of local services includes Llandudno Hospital too.

A basic understanding of the National Health Service will tell you that because of its sheer size and complexity, money must be channelled towards frontline services rather than simply writing blank cheques.

However, blank cheques were written. As a result, the health service in Wales is now more clogged with bureaucracy and bureaucrats than a Bolshevik tax office.

The financial avalanche could never have gone on forever. So Labour now has to work out how the NHS, with the expectation of all this extra funding, can continue.

Unions will complain about the threat of redundancies for the thousands of non-clinical staff taken on during the gold-rush - so redundancies are out of the question.

After all, why should those staff managing the NHS suffer because of Government stupidity?

Labour can't go cap-in-hand to the private sector because their little Nationalist helpers don't believe in it.

So the only option left open is to reduce frontline services.

Anyone who has tried to call for an ambulance recently will know exactly what this means.

With 22 Local Health Boards, Wales has 22 extra layers of management, 22 boards to decide on buying the same services and equipment that the 5 old Health Authorities used to.

There is now a team of people based in Cathays Park in Cardiff tasked to rubber stamp decisions made by local authority planning committee's and Local Health Boards even to build a small GP surgery - this is an entirely unnecessary tier of administration.

We believe that the NHS is capable largely of self governance and that politicians need to be removed from the day to day running of the health service. Politicians are there to set the broad strategic direction of the health service, not to look over the doctor's shoulder during surgery.

The Welsh Conservatives can lay claim to considerable successes, despite being in opposition in Cardiff Bay.

We were the first Party to call for the introduction of nurse-led walk-in centres here in Wales. We have kept up constant pressure on the Labour Party and now, surprise surprise, the Assembly Government are in favour of the idea.

For many years now, we have called for a reform of the mental health laws as the last great social reform.

I am delighted to report that thanks to the new system akin to the Private Members Bill in the House of Commons, I have been given the opportunity of bringing forward legislation that will do just that. Again, the Government are now in favour.

We have called for nurses to get the full pay award that they so rightly deserve. Again, the Government have now decided they are in favour as well.

And we called for the Government to resolve the issue of bed-blocking by holding an independent inquiry. They agreed with that as well.

We have proved that even in opposition, we are able to bring forward those common sense, intelligently costed and progressive policies that are good for Wales, and even convince the Labour Party of their merit.

With all these achievements in opposition, makes you wonder what we could achieve in Government?

To that end, I am today announcing the launch of the Welsh Conservative Party's Health Commission - an expert and independent body of individuals at the very top of their trade who will examine the previous Welsh Conservative manifesto in fine details.

They will make recommendations back to the Assembly Shadow Team on the future direction of our Health and Social Care policy in the lead-up to the 2011 Assembly Elections.

The Commission will be Chaired by Professor John Fairclough, a leading Orthopaedic Surgeon at the University Hospital of Wales and his own practice in Cardiff.

Other members of the Commission include representatives from the nursing and medical profession, a chair of a Welsh Local Health Board, a Social Services leader in local Government and leading representatives from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries.

We have established this Commission because we know, even if other parties are blissfully unaware, that politicians do not have all the answers to sorting out the NHS in Wales.

Every day we talk to patients, carers, nurses, doctors, dentists, therapists, phisios, charities and so many other important players in health care delivery. We listen to them, we respond. Our policies reflect their practical concerns and advice. Our policies are based on front-line experience and common sense, not narrow dogma.

Welsh Conservatives have a clear and unambiguous idea of what the NHS needs to do, but we will not even attempt to tell doctors and nurses how to do it. They already know.

What we will do is provide a framework of common sense measures that make their job easier.

We need to allow them to be able to provide that first class care they are trained to give, and to give the NHS the flexibility to accommodate that care.

If the NHS is to fulfil its potential, it must be given the tools to succeed, not a list of instructions on how it should be run.

With devolution, we were promised Welsh solutions to Welsh problems. So far, all Labour have offered up are more Welsh problems.

We know that devolution can help NHS Wales to achieve it's potential. But it must be a devolution right down to the front line so that professionals wield the power they need to treat patients.

We are the only Party that pledges to do this. We are the only Party that trusts doctors and nurses to get on with their job. And we are the only Party that can set the NHS free to centralised state control.

It's up to us, and we must make it happen.

Thank you."

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