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Health workers on strike to save NHS, says Price

BBC News 5 days ago
© Getty Images

Health workers are on strike to "save the NHS", Plaid Cymru's leader said as he set out a five-point plan intended to ease the pressure on the service.

Adam Price blamed problems on "two decades of Labour mismanagement", but defended his co-operation agreement with First Minister Mark Drakeford.

Major changes to the NHS were left out of the deal as the parties disagreed on health policies, Mr Price said.

Ministers said the NHS provides quality care for thousands of people every day.

Plaid's plan - which it said was based on talks with groups representing medical staff - calls for better wages in the NHS.

It also says a publicly-run staffing agency should fill gaps in hospital rotas, instead of private-sector companies.

Mr Price said the strikes over pay were "for the future of the NHS".

"This, now, is a campaign to save the NHS," he said at a press conference in the Senedd.

He added: "The current situation is unsustainable, so the future of the NHS is itself now at stake and that's why it's absolutely vital that we see a fundamental change in the direction of policy from the Welsh Labour government."

He defended the idea of healthcare free at the point of need - and suggested that social care should also be available to everyone on the same terms.

Plaid Cymru and Labour have a "fundamental disagreement" on what to do with the NHS, said Adam Price © BBC Plaid Cymru and Labour have a "fundamental disagreement" on what to do with the NHS, said Adam Price

Plaid Cymru has said the Welsh government should use its tax-raising powers to top-up funding from Westminster, but has stopped short of proposing specific tax rises.

Plaid called on Labour to acknowledge that the NHS is in crisis, but in a Senedd debate last week Health Minister Eluned Morgan said there was "hardly a mention of health" in the co-operation agreement the two parties signed up to after the last election.

On Tuesday, Mr Price said: "I think we have a fundamental disagreement over the direction we need to take policy and we're setting that out in the five-point plan.

"That's why we couldn't come to an agreement during the discussions in the co-operation agreement.

"There is a fundamental need to recognise the scale of the challenge and indeed the crisis that we are in because of the repeated failure to do what is necessary, to invest in social care, to invest in the workforce and have a long-term workforce plan."

How have ministers responded?

A Welsh government spokesperson said that this year it had "invested in new ambulance staff, transforming emergency departments and improving the flow through hospitals, and we have continued to put in place actions to respond to the pressures".

"We have committed more than £1bn extra this Senedd term to help the NHS recover from the pandemic and cut waiting times.

"We are working with health boards and have set ambitious but realistic targets to tackle the pandemic backlog for planned care, backed by significant extra long-term funding.

"Last week we announced that almost 400 more nurse training places will be created in Wales thanks to an 8% increase in the NHS Wales training budget."

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