Eluned visits Hafod Care in Penarth

Eluned with staff and tenants of Hafod Care's Supported Housing project in Penarth.

Eluned with staff and tenants of Hafod Care’s Supported Housing project in Penarth.

Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales Central, this week visited the Hafod Care Supported Housing Scheme at Windsor Road, Penarth.

There she met staff and service users and heard how the scheme was having a transformational effect on their lives.

Eluned Parrott said:

“Schemes like this are vital to ensure that vulnerable adults are given the support and guidance they need. This in turn helps them to gain confidence and be more independent about their life choices.

“It was wonderful to hear how the project was having a real impact. I heard some very moving testimonials from residents at the scheme about how their lives had been turned around since moving to Windsor Road. The range of help given is very impressive including helping residents manage their tenancies, helping residents maximise their incomes as well as encouraging the residents to have more active social lives by taking up old hobbies.

“We need more schemes like these to help more people play a more active role in society which in turn has a positive impact with reduced demand on health budgets.”

The project at Windsor Road supports six tenants who receive individual support of 9 hours per week. Individual support plans are devised and written by the support staff and tenants detailing all areas of housing related goals they wish to achieve. The tenants are expected to fully participate in the activities agreed in their support plan and weekly support sessions with their key worker.

Irene Watkins, Managing Director of Hafod Care welcomed Eluned’s support. She said:

“We were delighted that Eluned met some of our tenants and could see first-hand the positive impact of the Supporting People Programme. Last year this funding enabled us to provide over 140,000 hours of care and help over 750 people to live independent lives.”

510 children in Cwm Taf waiting over 14 weeks for mental health services

The number of children and young people waiting over 14 weeks to access psychiatric services locally has rocketed in recent years, an Assembly Member has revealed.

In April 2013 just 282 children were waiting over 14 weeks across the whole of Wales. However, the most recent figures show that there are now 510 children waiting over 14 weeks in the Cwm Taf health board area alone.

The then Children’s Commissioner, Peter Clarke, warned in his annual report in 2005-2006 that children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) were “in crisis across Wales”.  However, the waiting lists continue to grow.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats would enshrine parity of esteem between mental and physical health on the face of future legislation. The Minister for Health would then report annually to the Assembly on progress towards the goal of parity between mental and physical health.

In Wales, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and all mental health hospital services aren’t subject to the same rigorous ‘referral to treatment’ time targets as other NHS services.

Eluned Parrott Welsh Liberal Democrat AM for South Wales Central said:

“These figures are appalling and show that mental health waiting lists are spiralling out of control.

“For too long mental health services have been an afterthought of Governments. This complacency means our mental health services are miles behind where they should be.

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe there must be a radical change in the way in which our NHS approaches mental health services.  That is why we would ensure that patients suffering from mental health will have equal rights to access diagnosis and treatments as those requiring physical health care.

“It’s over a decade since the Children’s Commissioner declared youth mental health services to be in ‘crisis across Wales’, yet many child health experts still believe that is the case.  In England, the Government has said child mental health services need a ‘complete overhaul’. It’s time the Welsh Labour Government took its head out of the sand and accepted this is the case in Wales too.”

Ambulance response times in the Vale of Glamorgan still below par

Eluned Parrott AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales Central, has called for the Welsh Labour Government to investigate the ambulance response times in the Vale of Glamorgan after the latest published statistics show that only 55.8% of urgent calls arrived within the target time.

The Welsh Government has set a target of 65% of urgent calls being responded to within 8 minutes. Yet in May 2015, the all Wales average was 59.4%, with the Vale of Glamorgan achieving below that.

In addition, the response time for the Vale of Glamorgan was below that achieved in all of its neighbouring  authorities of Cardiff (61.6%), Rhondda Cynon Taf (62.9%) and Bridgend (58.9%).

Eluned Parrott AM commented:

“These figures continue to show that residents in the Vale of Glamorgan are losing out in terms of ambulance response times.

“There were 462 Category A responses in May, yet 42 ambulances arrived at the scene later than they should have which is totally unacceptable.

“Residents in the Vale of Glamorgan are not getting the ambulance service they deserve at critical times in their lives and that needs to be urgently addressed.

“After fifteen years of Labour running the Health Service in Wales, we see major failings on a daily basis. From  inadequate cancer care, poor ambulance response times through to  dire A&E waiting times, the people in Wales have been poorly served by Labour for far too long.”

Eluned Parrott welcomes news of the 2017 Champions League final coming to Cardiff

Welcoming the news Cardiff is to host the Champions League Final in 2017 Eluned Parrott said:

“This is great news for Cardiff and the wider area. This event will bring the focus of European football to South Wales and once again shows how Cardiff can host world class events.

“It is now vital that the Welsh Government and Cardiff Council work together with other partners to present a positive image of Cardiff to the World ahead of and during these events. This will mean ensuing good access from Cardiff Central Train Station to The Millennium Stadium during the construction in Central Square as well as working with hotels and other businesses to make sure they all benefit from this exciting event.

“Cardiff and Wales has a huge amount to offer visitors, and now is a fantastic chance to show that to the World.”

No clear map for Metro still after three years of talk

Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Transport Minister Eluned Parrott has called on the Welsh Government to publish its Metro Map, after the Welsh Government announced that £600m would be invested in transport in South-East Wales without detailing the projects to be covered.

Commenting on today’s announcement, she said:

“It is high time the Welsh Government said what it’s version of the South Wales Metro will look like. While promises of funding for transport are welcome, we still don’t know which specific projects will be going ahead.

“Many of us were hoping that today’s much-hyped announcement would finally make clear what the Metro will actually be.  Sadly, after three years of working groups and reports, we still don’t really know.

“Yet again, the Welsh Government has failed to give a definitive answer to questions around the Metro, and passengers in South-East Wales remain perplexed.  I call on the Welsh Government not only to publish its own map and timeline, but show how it will deliver integrated ticketing to simplify travel for Welsh passengers.”

Eluned Parrott has also expressed her concerns that the South Wales Metro will be merged into the next Wales and Borders Rail franchise:

“The South Wales Metro and the Welsh Rail Franchise are two very different projects and I believe they need to be treated as such.

“The Metro is supposed to be about integrating transport across South-East Wales, bringing together bus, rail, cycling and other transport more effectively.  By merging it into the rail franchise, the Welsh Government gives the signal that buses and active travel are just add-ons, not an integral part of the system.

“Similarly, passengers in rural mid-Wales and the north Wales corridor will be seriously concerned that the all-Wales rail franchise will be focusing all of its attention on this major project in the South-Eastern corner and that their needs will be forgotten.

“We need to send a message to the rest of Wales that the next rail franchise will have their interests at heart, whilst making sure that work on integrating public transport in urban South-East Wales moves forward.  This announcement today does neither.”

Tory plans on electrification are as clear as mud

It would be completely unacceptable for Welsh passengers to have to wait even longer for the electrification of the Great Western Line, Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Transport Minister has said today.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced this afternoon that the UK Government is going to delay or cut back a number of modernisation projects planned for Network Rail because rising costs and missed targets make the £38.5bn plan untenable.

According to the BBC, projects at most risk of being delayed are the electrification of the Great Western Railway to Swansea, as well as the electrification of the Midland Mainline.

Eluned Parrott AM is writing to the Department of Transport and the Welsh Government seeking assurances that the timetable for electrification in Wales is still on target.

Eluned Parrott said:

“It would be completely unacceptable for Welsh passengers to have to wait any longer than they already have for these vital improvements.

“The Liberal Democrats in Government worked hard to secure electrification for Wales, but now the Tory Government’s plans for this project are as clear as mud.

“I am particularly concerned that the Transport Minister failed to properly give a firm delivery date.  That simply isn’t good enough.

“We need clarity as soon as possible on the future of electrification projects in Wales as this is vital to strengthen our economy.”

Eluned Parrott comments on withdrawal of Cardiff – Norwich flight

Commenting on the decision by Links Air to end their Cardiff to Norwich service, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Transport Minister Eluned Parrott said:

“I am disappointed that this service wasn’t a success, but not surprised that the new route couldn’t find a market in just two months. New routes like this need longer to bed in, and a big spend on marketing which neither the airport nor the airport’s owners, the Welsh Government, apparently provided.

“The drop in passenger numbers to less than one million is, I hope, the low point in Cardiff Airport’s recent history, and we should all want to see the airport grow and thrive from here.

“The new flights being brought by FlyBe from the start of this month are a real opportunity to see numbers grow, but we must make sure that we don’t have all our eggs in one basket.  Attracting a wider range of airlines will help to make the airport more sustainable in the long term, and protect the airport’s future in what is a very volatile market.

“I am calling on Welsh Government to work with the Airport’s new Chief Executive and wider management team to put together a comprehensive marketing strategy to ensure that airlines who fly from the airport are successful, thus attracting other airlines too.”

Urgent action needed to address shortfall in adapted housing

In the Assembly today Eluned Parrott AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales Central, raised the issue of adapted housing and the fact that there is a chronic shortage of such homes in Cardiff, RCT and the Vale of Glamorgan.

In the Vale of Glamorgan, there are 18 families waiting for bespoke homes for children with significant disabilities, but while the Council has promised to build homes, no suitable land has as yet been identified.

In a question to the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, Eluned Parrott called for an assessment of the number of adapted homes that are constructed each year and an analysis of how this compares with the actual demand.

Eluned Parrott said:

“From discussions with my constituents, it is clear that the number of adapted homes falls well short of what is needed. It is important that this assessment is carried out urgently so that action plans for future housing can incorporate the needs of those with disabilities.

“There is a hidden housing crisis in Wales with thousands of Welsh families in desperate need of disabled friendly homes.

“Last week, the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability handed over a petition to the Assembly calling for all new homes to be built to lifetime home standards and for 10% to be built to full wheelchair accessibility standards. This is a campaign that has my wholehearted support.

“Whilst we are starting to see some positive news in terms of the number of new houses being built in Wales, I have concerns that this does nothing to improve the provision of lifetime homes, or fully wheelchair accessible homes. This needs to be rectified as a matter of urgency.”

Eluned Parrott Column – Pontypridd Observer – 17th June 2015

Last week, the Welsh Liberal Democrats led a debate in the Assembly on the need to establish a ‘Heath Watchdog’ in Wales in light of the decision to put North Wales’s Health Board into ‘special measures’ due to the way it was failing patients.

The issues in North Wales are not unique, and I am getting an increasing number of complaints raised with me by constituents on serious problems that occur in our local Health Boards.

I raised several of these cases during the debate itself including that of a local constituent whose wife fell and sustained a serious pelvic injury. She waited more than two hours for an ambulance on a cold pavement at night, and then waited a further four and a half hours to be seen by a doctor, only after she had fainted and collapsed in the emergency room because of the pain.

Since then, her family have been increasingly frustrated with the way their justifiable complaint has been handled. They have been passed from pillar to post – to the Health Board, to the Welsh Ambulance Trust, to the Community Health Council, to nursing directors, and yet still are waiting for a full response

This is totally unacceptable.

It is clear that the current system for ensuring the quality and safety of healthcare services in Wales is not fit for purpose and that a new, more robust system needs to be introduced to hold our health providers to account.

Welsh Liberal Democrats believe that in order to improve the situation, we need to:

  • appoint a chief inspector for hospitals and healthcare;
  • support staff and patients by introducing mechanisms for whistleblowing which would encourage a stronger culture of openness and transparency;
  • reform the complaints procedure to ensure greater independence and restore the trust of patients and their families; and
  • introduce clinically-led and peer-reviewed inspections with significant patient input.

But most importantly, we need to make sure that our most vulnerable people are protected and encourage staff with concerns to come forward.

That’s why it is important that any new health watchdog is fully independent of the Welsh Labour Government.

I have spoken before about how fortunate we are to have frontline staff in the NHS who strive to deliver a first class and professional service in extremely challenging circumstances.  What we also need is for them to have a management and reporting structure that supports the work they do.

Wales still lags behind rest of UK on unemployment

The Welsh unemployment rate has risen by 3,000 over the last quarter, new figures released today show. This is the largest rise in unemployment of any UK region.

Statistics published by ONS show that compared to last year the Welsh unemployment rate rose by 0.2%, whereas it fell in every English Region outside of London.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Economy Minister Eluned Parrott AM said:

“Unemployment has constantly been falling across the UK as a whole, but once again Wales is lagging behind.

“This Labour Government has serious answers to give about why our unemployment figures are so consistently poor compared to the rest of the UK.

“We need to address the fundamental problems in our economy. We need to find out why the unemployment rate is falling significantly faster just over the border in the West Midlands for example, where the unemployment rate fell by 5,000 over the same period.

“Across the UK we have seen unemployment fall. In government, Liberal Democrats created almost two million apprenticeship places which means two million people have started to earn a living and pay their way while learning valuable and transferable skills which will stay with them. Here in Wales there is no major apprenticeship program and we are seeing the results of that today. This Labour Government needs to redouble its efforts to reduce unemployment in Wales, especially for the long term unemployed.  Its job creation schemes remain badly targeted and lack ambition.”