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Heated exchange sheds little light on Betsi failings.

Byline: TOM BODDEN Our man at the Welsh Assembly

THE work of the National Assembly in the chamber in Cardiff Bay has recently been described as 'boring'.

Too many AMs sat staring at computer screens, apparently disinterested in the voices of debate around them.

Yesterday, First Minister Carwyn Jones and Tory Opposition Leader Andrew RT Davies were going at it like hammer and tongs.

The issue which caused such heat and passion in First Minister's Questions was the NHS.

Mr Davies wanted to know the First Minister's opinion of last week's report into serious management failings in Betsi Cadwaladr health board, covered extensively elsewhere in the Daily Post.

The Conservative AM Darren Millar had tabled an 'urgent question' on the crisis to the health minister.

Mr Jones replied: "You can ask this question when the urgent question comes up, that's what your party wanted."

The combative Tory Assembly leader clearly saw red.

He stormed: "With respect First Minister, this is First Minister Question time, that level of flippancy has driven many of the problems that are identified in the report. Frankly if that's the best you can offer as First Minister there are going to be massive problems for the health service in Wales. When you have a report that identifies the complete breakdown in the relationship of the Yesterday, First Minister Carwyn Jones and Tory Opposition Leader Andrew RT Davies were going at it like hammer and tongs chair and chief executive when you have massive failures in disease control measures. These are the very situations that led to Mid Staffs and your type of flippancy drives this type of flippancy in our NHS."

The First Minister accused his rival of unacceptable misuse of the Assembly time, tabling an urgent question then seeking a 'second bite of the cherry'.

Cries erupted of 'Shame, Shame, Shame," from the Conservative benches.

"Order, order, whatever is going on here this afternoon," intervened presiding officer Rosemary Butler. "I decide whether it's a misuse of Assembly time and I consider this appropriate," she ruled.

Mr Davies continued with his charge of complacency against the FM, who was 'completely out of touch'.

Mr Jones responded: "The leader of the opposition is acting disgracefully, He's the leader of a party which turned the NHS into a joke in England and is depriving the NHS of resources in England. He's the one who says the people of Wales should be paying a tablet tax. It's not I who are being flippant here. It's him and the people of Wales will be grateful his party aren't in charge in Wales."

A dramatic interlude, but so much heat and not much light on the First Minister's opinion of the crisis in the North Wales NHS.

That was left to health minister Mark Drakeford.

There could be more bad news ahead. When its senior staff are finally restored, Betsi Cadwaladr UHB faces some tough choices. AMs heard already this financial year it predicts a PS29m deficit. A PS4m shortfall last year led to the cancellation of significant elective surgery.
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 3, 2013
Words:509
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