THE BLOG

Our Welsh NHS Needs a Full, Independent Inquiry - Now

06/10/2014 17:17 BST | Updated 06/12/2014 10:59 GMT

When a highly respected and powerful medical organisation with over 7,000 doctors raises concerns, the natural response from political leaders should be to listen.

Sadly, the organisation in question, the British Medical Association in Wales had its reputation questioned and its evidence and findings dragged through the Cardiff Bay political mud by Welsh Labour. Their crime? Not just to question the handling of the Welsh NHS, but to warn of imminent meltdown and highlighted failures in recruitment and the lack leadership at the top of the Welsh NHS. For the BMA to raise these issues as publically as they have deserves not just answers but action. And fast.

For the past 18 months, the Welsh Conservatives have been demanding a full Independent Inquiry into the handling of the NHS. Sir Bruce Keogh, the medical director of NHS England carried out a similar inquiry in England, but Welsh Labour have put their foot on the windpipe of any potential inquiry in Wales. At first, Carwyn Jones told me "it would cost £1million" and a month later spent over £3million refurbishing his government offices, then we were told the mortality figures in Wales didn't need to be investigated. (Only three out of 21 Welsh hospitals have acceptable mortality figures.)

From the evidence highlighted not only by the BMA, or indeed the NHS performance figures, one thing is absolutely clear, investigation is needed.

Earlier this year, an independent review into care at the Princess of Wales hospital in Bridgend produced some truly horrible cases of negligence and malpractice. One patient said "I am in hell", another example was of some patients being told to go to the toilet as they lay in their beds. Professor Andrews' report was so bad that it had to state in its introduction that this is not "another Mid-Staffs". If a report has to do that, then people will begin to wonder what is going on in our Welsh NHS.

Welsh Labour have labelled our calls for a Keogh-style Inquiry as "politically motivated." How can it be politically motivated to give patients and people the chance to have their say alongside those of our health professionals?

"It beggars belief that a view expressed by a handful of the first ministers' former college chums is somehow perceived to have greater validity than the collective view of doctors through our extensive democratic structures in Wales. Perhaps the first minister should seek to widen his group of friends, in order to get a better balanced view of the challenges facing doctors working in the NHS Wales today."

This passage from the BMA's letter to AMs last week about Welsh Labour's attitude to severe warnings is one of the most damning I have read in seven years in the Welsh Assembly.

One thing is absolutely clear from this unsavoury and shocking debacle - we need an Independent Keogh-style Inquiry NOW.