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Morgan: Government priorities wrong over access to medicine

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"Today is indeed a historic occasion, because we see the Minister for Health and Social Services meeting one of his targets and one of his commitments. As an opposition member, I urge him not to make a habit of it.

It is rather unnerving, after eight years of devolution and eight years of many broken targets, to see the Assembly Government actually meeting one of its manifesto commitments.

Many people outside this building believe that the consequence of extending free prescriptions beyond the 80 to 85 per cent who already get them may not have been thought through.

There was some criticism this morning and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry Cymru raised concerns about the consequences of free prescriptions, and I think that, in your closing remarks, Minister, you should make reference to those concerns.

You should say what you feel ought to be done to address them, particularly on the issue of medicines wastage, the lack of efficiency within the drugs budget generally and on the worry that increasing demand will mean that newer and more innovative medicines will be difficult to access.

Putting aside the political differences on this issue, which are primarily between you and us, these consequences need to be thought through. At no stage have you said how high you think the cost may be or what the potential demand may be for this when it is introduced.

Neither have you demonstrated any commitment to resolving medicines wastage or shown any willingness to consider making the drugs budget more effective.

The extension of free prescriptions to the minority who do not get them will become a reality, and I am not in the business of trying to reverse every policy that the Assembly Government has introduced. If I tried to do that, we would not get anything done that I wanted.

Therefore, we will want to see how effective this is over the next four years, how efficient the use of the drugs budget will become and that medicines wastage is at an absolute minimum. People outside this building have a huge range of concerns about the implementation and the consequences.

As I just said, I am not in the habit of trying to reverse everything that the Assembly Government has introduced. We will not seek to reverse this particular policy.

The Member should be aware that Governments are not in the business—I do not think that this Government has ever been in the business—of attempting to reverse every single policy introduced by a previous Government.

We will need to be assured about the consequences of this and about whether Government will address those consequences, not least with regard to medicines wastage—because that is a major concern in the pharmaceutical profession and among GPs—and the lack of efficiency and effectiveness in terms of using the drugs budget.

Also, we need assurances that, when pressures are put on the Assembly to ensure that people have greater access to newer, modern medicines, that will not be prevented by the spiralling costs of meeting this manifesto commitment.

The way in which the Labour Party has rolled out free prescriptions and the focus that it has put on this one issue—subsidising 15 per cent to 20 per cent of the people of Wales, which includes many people sitting in the Chamber today—has diverted your attention away from resolving the big challenge of how to widen access to modern medicines in Wales and how to get rid of the postcode lottery that exists.

That is your legacy; it is not just the introduction of free prescriptions. You have diverted your attention away from tackling the major issue of the lack of access to drugs and therapies because of budgetary concerns.

We are willing to tackle those concerns, and with only 100 days left to save the NHS from four more years of Labour Government in Wales, I look forward to debating those big issues with you."

"Mae heddiw yn wir yn achlysur hanesyddol, oherwydd gwelwn y Gweinidog dros Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol yn cyrraedd un o'i dargedau ac yn cyflawni un o'i addewidion. Fel un o aelodau'r gwrthbleidiau, fe'i hanogaf i beidio â gwneud arferiad ohono.

Mae'n peri anesmwythyd braidd, ar ôl wyth mlynedd o ddatganoli ac wyth mlynedd o dorri llawer o dargedau, gweld Llywodraeth y Cynulliad wir yn cyflawni un o addewidion ei maniffesto.

Mae llawer o bobl y tu allan i'r adeilad hwn yn credu nad ystyriwyd yn ofalus o bosibl ganlyniadau ymestyn presgripsiynau am ddim y tu hwnt i'r 80 i 85 y cant sydd eisoes yn eu cael.

Cafwyd peth beirniadaeth y bore yma a chododd Cymdeithas Diwydiant Fferyllol Prydain Cymru bryderon am ganlyniadau presgripsiynau am ddim, a chredaf y dylech, yn eich sylwadau i gloi, Weinidog, gyfeirio at y pryderon hyn.

Dylech ddweud yr hyn y teimlwch y dylid ei wneud i roi sylw iddynt, yn enwedig ynghylch mater gwastraffu meddyginiaethau, y diffyg effeithlonrwydd yn y gyllideb gyffuriau yn gyffredinol ac ynghylch y pryder y bydd galw cynyddol yn golygu y bydd yn anos cael gafael ar feddyginiaethau mwy arloesol.

Gan roi'r gwahaniaethau gwleidyddol o'r neilltu ynghylch y mater hwn, gwahaniaethau sydd yn bennaf rhyngoch chi a ninnau, rhaid ystyried y canlyniadau hyn yn ofalus. Nid ydych ar unrhyw adeg wedi dweud pa mor uchel y credwch y bydd y gost na beth y gallai'r galw posibl fod am hyn pan y'i cyflwynir.

Nid ydych ychwaith wedi dangos unrhyw ymrwymiad i ddatrys mater gwastraffu meddyginiaethau nac wedi dangos unrhyw barodrwydd i ystyried gwneud y gyllideb gyffuriau yn fwy effeithiol.

Bydd ymestyn presgripsiynau am ddim i'r lleiafrif nad ydynt yn eu cael yn dod yn realiti, ac nid yw'n arferiad gennyf geisio gwrthdroi pob polisi y mae Llywodraeth y Cynulliad wedi'i gyflwyno. Pe ceisiwn wneud hynny, ni fyddem yn cyflawni dim dymunwn ei gyflawni.

O'r herwydd, bydd arnom eisiau gweld pa mor effeithiol fydd hyn dros y pedair blynedd nesaf, pa mor effeithlon y defnyddir y gyllideb gyffuriau a bod nifer y meddyginiaethau a gaiff eu gwastraffu mor isel â phosibl. Mae gan bobl y tu allan i'r adeilad hwn bryderon amrywiol iawn am y gweithredu a'r canlyniadau.

Fel y dywedais yn awr, nid yw'n arferiad gennyf wrthdroi popeth y mae Llywodraeth y Cynulliad wedi ei gyflwyno. Ni cheisiwn wrthdroi'r polisi penodol hwn.

Dylai'r Aelod fod yn ymwybodol nad yw'n arferiad gan Lywodraethau—ac ni chredaf y bu erioed yn arferiad gan y Llywodraeth hon—geisio gwrthdroi pob un polisi a gyflwynwyd gan Lywodraeth flaenorol.

Bydd yn rhaid inni gael ein sicrhau ynghylch canlyniadau hyn ac ynghylch a fydd y Llywodraeth yn rhoi sylw i'r canlyniadau hynny, yn anad dim o safbwynt gwastraffu meddyginiaethau—oherwydd bod hwn yn bryder mawr yn y proffesiwn fferyllol ac ymysg meddygon teulu—a'r diffyg effeithlonrwydd ac effeithiolrwydd wrth ddefnyddio'r gyllideb gyffuriau.

Hefyd, mae arnom angen sicrwydd, pan roddir pwysau ar y Cynulliad i sicrhau bod meddyginiaethau modern, mwy newydd ar gael i bobl, na fydd costau cynyddol gwireddu'r addewid maniffesto hon yn peri rhwystrau.

Mae'r ffordd y mae'r Blaid Lafur wedi cyflwyno presgripsiynau am ddim fesul cam a'r ffocws a roddodd ar y mater hwn—gan roi cymhorthdal i 15 y cant i 20 y cant o bobl Cymru, ffigur sy'n cynnwys nifer o bobl sy'n eistedd yn y Siambr heddiw—wedi tynnu eich sylw oddi ar ddelio â'r sialens fawr o sut i ehangu'r mynediad at feddyginiaethau modern yng Nghymru a sut i gael gwared â'r loteri cod post sy'n bodoli.

Dyma yw eich gwaddol i ni; nid cyflwyno presgripsiynau am ddim yn unig ydyw. Yr ydych wedi tynnu eich sylw oddi ar fynd i'r afael â'r mater pwysig sef bod pryderon ynghylch y gyllideb yn rhwystro pobl rhag cael gafael ar gyffuriau a therapïau.

Yr ydym yn barod i fynd i'r afael â'r pryderon hyn, a chydag ond 100 diwrnod ar ôl i achub y gwasanaeth iechyd gwladol rhag pedair blynedd arall o Lywodraeth Lafur yng Nghymru, edrychaf ymlaen at drafod y materion pwysig hyn gyda chi."

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