Disgusted of Llandrindod Wells

Hart failure

Whoops (again)!

According to Betsan Powys’ blog the health minister has sent out a statement that clarifies (sic) the earlier one.

First, in January, the Minister said ‘to hell with NICE’ (paraphrased), there would be funding for Sutent and some other drugs. Then NICE announced they weren’t cost effective yesterday. The Minister ‘clarified’ her first position and said that January’s decision would be superceded by the NICE guidance. Hold the prescriptions for these drugs, in other words, they are not cost effective – repeat, not cost effective.

Then, as Betsan Powys revealed, the Minister had further clarified her position, to say she was mulling over NICE’s guidance and taking advice from clinicians. Just a thought, but perhaps the free prescriptions policy was coming back with a bite – given that if the drugs are NHS Wales-approved then they’ll be free to the cancer sufferers.

Disgusted’s opinion: the Health Minister is getting a little excitable and prone to announcements that she later regrets. Prescription (free of course): a cold shower or a spell in a darkened room with a damp cloth over the eyes.


Plastic wind bags

The British press [sic] has belatedly noticed the Welsh debate about charging for plastic bags, as Disgusted noted yesterday. There’s further mining of the topic today:

The language, again

Guerilla Welsh Fare points out that there hasn’t been much debate about the quietly announced plan to water down Welsh translation of Assembly proceedings.

Neglect of Yr Iaith featured in WAG’s Single Equality Scheme, launched on March 31st. With usual strategic guffspeak WAG claimed the scheme set out measures to make sure public policy making goes further than “legal responsibilities to promote equality of opportunity and eliminate unlawful discrimination in respect of disability, gender and race”. WAG promises to “apply the same broad principles to the new areas of equality – age, religion and belief or non-belief, sexual orientation and transgender”. Welsh does not come under the scheme.

London’s sudden interest in Welsh news

Like an unused plastic bag flapping in the wind the story about the Assembly Government’s dalliance with charging up to 15p a pop for plastic bags just keeps coming back. Suddenly there are stories in the Times and the Telegraph about it

The source for these stories appears to be Jane Davidson – the Welsh environment minister – talking to the Times about the plans. If Welsh ministers are smart enough they will bend the ear of the London-based journalists more often, with soothing tales about how great WAG’s policies are.

New minister appointed at WAG
07/08/2009, 8:43 am
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Appointed, that is, unilaterally by the Western Mail. And then moved back to her old job by the byline.

Deserting the main channels
03/08/2009, 10:02 am
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A decision on the future of Welsh media is due shortly, as the UK Government will publish plans – possibly this year – for the future of UK media.

The Times Labs blog has featured this diagram, which is Britain-wide but still interesting:

It seems, basically, that a lot more people are watching channels other than the big few original ‘terrestrial’ channels. If the same is true for Wales then a Welsh media commission, as advocated by WAG, could be a good idea.

Calls for deck chair rejig
30/07/2009, 8:48 am
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Today it’s reported that former WDA employee Professor Brian Morgan has called for the return of the WDA.

It’s a shame that we’ve become so bogged down with institutional reform in Wales: WDA, health boards, local authorities…and of course the Assembly and its powers. You might say part of the problem has been the more limited settlement that Wales received and the relative novelty of having access to new levers.

It can’t be a coincidence that the WDA abolition was announced in the wake of Tony Blair’s personal rejection of the Richard Commission proposals. If you can’t take power from above, take some from below.