WELSH First Minister Carwyn Jones and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood have joined forces to argue that the long term future of the NHS can only be secured with a remain vote in the EU referendum on Thursday. They warned that leaving the European Union would make it more difficult to recruit doctors and other healthcare professionals to the NHS.
During First Minister’s questions in the Senedd, the Plaid Cymru leader and First Minister agreed that the NHS will need to recruit increasing numbers of trained healthcare professionals and that voting to leave the EU would make it even more difficult to recruit them from overseas.
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said:
“Wales already faces a doctor shortage, and voting to leave the EU would perpetuate this problem. If we were to leave the EU on Thursday the NHS in Wales would find it even more difficult to recruit doctors from overseas.
“The economic uncertainty caused by withdrawing from the EU would also make it difficult to attract GPs to areas where vacancies are difficult to fill. We cannot overlook the threat of privatisation if we were to leave the NHS in the hands of right-wing politicians. Their keenness to sign up to TTIP would make it easier for more of our public services to be sold off.
“The only way to secure the future of our NHS is to vote to remain in the EU. It is in Wales’ best interests to remain in the EU. When it comes to protecting people, the economy and protecting the health service, Wales is better off in the European Union.”
In response to the question from the Plaid Cymru leader, the First Minister Carwyn Jones said:
“What message would we convey to doctors and other health staff should we leave the European Union? Without question we would find it harder to recruit skilled staff from abroad. It is clear that our NHS benefits hugely from our membership of the EU, and it is one of the things people need to think about before they vote on Thursday.”
Addressing a question on the threat of privatisation in the event of a Leave vote, the First Minister said:“We of course oppose any privatisation of the NHS, and there is no doubt that a Leave vote would damage the fabric of our health service. Look at the personalities at the top of the Leave campaign – those are people who do not speak for the NHS, who talk openly about a privatisation agenda. Devolution would not protect us fully from the effects of wholesale privatisation in Wales, as it would slash the funding available to us.”
KeolisAmey awarded Wales and Borders Rail contract
KEOLISAMEY is pleased that the Welsh Government has announced its intention to award the contract to operate the Wales and Borders rail service and the South Wales Metro to KeolisAmey.
Upon successful completion of a 10-day standstill period, the contract will run from June 4, 2018, to October 14, 2033, with rail services transferring on October 14, 2018.
This standstill period is normal procurement practice.
KeolisAmey is a joint venture partnership of international public transport operator Keolis, and infrastructure asset management specialist Amey.
KeolisAmey currently runs the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) in London, which has one of the best records in UK rail – consistently better than 99% reliability. Additionally, we operate and maintain Greater Manchester’s Metrolink – the largest tram network in the UK.
Alistair Gordon, Chief Executive of Keolis UK, said: “This will be a transformative new rail service for Wales and its borders which will see Keolis once more combine its worldwide expertise in passenger operations with Amey’s engineering excellence.
“We look forward to the successful completion of the procurement process – this exciting contract will deliver for all of Wales. The procurement process was rigorous, resulting in transformative solutions for the benefit of all in Wales, and indeed, future generations.
“While the proposed changes won’t happen overnight, the railway will be unrecognisable in five years thanks to the vision of the Welsh Government.”
Andy Milner, Amey’s Chief Executive, said: “Building on our successful partnership with Keolis, which already sees us deliver two high performing services – the Greater Manchester Metrolink and London’s DLR – we are honoured to be asked to operate the Wales and Borders service.
“This is a great opportunity for us to use our joint capabilities to deliver a first-rate service for Wales. We will be focused on working with Transport for Wales to transform the existing infrastructure and introduce new trains to significantly improve the passenger experience, as well as creating hundreds of new jobs and apprenticeship opportunities.”
KeolisAmey is unable to make any further comment until the procurement process has concluded and the contract has been awarded.
Changes made to Sex and Relationships Education
EDUCATION SECRETARY Kirsty Williams has announced changes to Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) and its role in the curriculum.
Whilst the topic of sex and relationships is a statutory part of the curriculum of Wales, individual schools can currently choose their approach to the subject. But the changes, set to be introduced in 2022, aim to provide a greater grasp of sexuality, with greater emphasis on healthy relationships rather than a lesson on the biology of the topic.
Age appropriate material on diversity, domestic abuse and consent will be taught to children from five to 16 years old.
The announcement comes 30 years after Section 28 was introduced in Welsh, English and Scottish schools. Section 28 of the Local Government Act stated that a local authority ‘shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality’ or ‘promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship’. It was repealed in 2000 in Scotland and in 2003 for the rest of the UK.
Kirsty Williams, Member of the Welsh Assembly for Brecon and Radnorshire, said: “The days of traditional sex education are long gone; the world has moved on and our curriculum must move with it.
“Sex should never be taught in isolation for the simple reason that it is about so much more than just sex; it’s also about relationships, rights and respect and that must go hand in hand with a much broader understanding of sexuality.
“Anything less does a disservice to our learners and teachers.
“The fact is relationships and sexuality shape our lives as well as the world around us.
“They are a fundamental part of who we are and how we understand ourselves, each other and society.
“30 years on from the introduction of Section 28, we will also ensure that RSE is fully inclusive of all genders and sexualities and meets the needs of LGBTQI+ learners.
“Crucial to all of this will be ensuring that our teachers have the knowledge and confidence to provide the RSE our learners deserve.”
Illegal gin traps leads to death of red kite
AN RSPCA appeal for information has been launched following the death of a red kite caught by an illegal gin trap.
RSPCA Cymru was alerted after the poor bird of prey was found bleeding, and with broken legs, in the trap on Park Avenue in Aberystwyth on May 7.
The caller who found the bird transferred the animal to a local veterinary practice, where it was confirmed that the legs had been broken by the trap.
Sadly, the vet was left with no choice but to put the bird to sleep to prevent further suffering.
Gin traps, such as the device used in this incident, are spring-operated and illegal to set and use, although not illegal to own. It is also illegal to set any spring trap in the open or on top of a post.
The RSPCA say they are following a line of inquiry about the placing of the trap – but are calling on the local community in Aberystwyth to get in touch should they have any relevant information.
RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben said: “These gin traps were made illegal to set many years ago and yet shockingly are still being used to catch animals. They are indiscriminate and sadly this red kite is the latest victim.
“The potential consequences of these devices for animals and humans are so severe. I shudder to think what could have happened had a toddler, for example, crossed the path of this trap.
“We are following a line of inquiry on this incident but are eager for more information to come to light as to the circumstances behind this illegal trap being put down.
“The RSPCA’s inspectorate appeal line can be reached on 0300 123 8018, and all calls are treated in confidence.”
If you have concerns about the welfare of an animal, please call the RSPCA’s emergency line on 0300 1234 999 to report the incident.
For more information on what to do if you find a wild animal in need of help, please visit the RSPCA website.
If you wish to help RSPCA Cymru complete rescues such as this, you can donate online. The RSPCA is a charity and relies on public donations.
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