It seems the political silly season has started earlier than usual this year with the re-emergence of old calls to rebrand the Assembly as the Welsh Parliament - and we wonder why the public are disillusioned with politics!
I wish politicians would get on with the job of sorting out the very real day to day problems facing the country rather than wasting time on issues which primarily interest the political “bubble” class. I certainly won’t be supporting any unnecessary and costly changes to the Assembly’s name or any leap towards unrestricted income tax powers.
Something I do strongly agree with though is the recent Silk Commission’s recommendation that that there should be far closer co-operation between the Welsh and English health services. This may sound like common sense but it hasn’t happened effectively since the creation of the Assembly.
As the economist Gerry Holtham has pointed out, half the population of Wales live relatively near England and we generally accept it as a “porous” border. It follows that Welsh NHS patients should be able to access English or Welsh hospitals for treatment regardless of which side of the border they live. The border should not be a barrier to treatment.
Chepstow Stroke Club is one group that is more than aware of the need for integrated health services with members drawn from each side of the border. During a recent tour of the Senedd they reminded me that rehabilitation is almost as important to stroke victims as the initial treatment and they need far more support than they have been getting. I heard a similar message from Parkinson’s Disease sufferers who I met at a recent, much needed Parkinson’s awareness-raising event at the Assembly.
Finally this month, when I agreed at the end of last year to take part in a series of Lent sermons on “Faith in the Workplace” at Abergavenny’s St Mary’s Priory Church I didn’t realise I would be giving up my role in the Assembly Shadow Cabinet for Lent! Giving a sermon was certainly a different experience but an opportunity for all those who took part to explain a little bit more about what motivates and guides us as people. I hope those who attended found it useful. I certainly learned at the end of the service that priests have to shake even more hands than politicians!
May I wish readers a happy and peaceful Easter.