Welsh Labour Policy Forum Consultation Document Health and Social Care October 2006

October 2006


Labour is and always will be the party of the NHS. We have an historic and enduring commitment to an NHS free at the point of need and to the values on which it was first founded – namely solidarity, social justice and excellent care for all.

We recognise the high priority people place on the NHS and in particular on the future of their local health services. This is why Labour will place our plans for the future of the NHS at the heart of our 2007 manifesto.

We are proud of all that we have achieved since 1999, but we recognise that much more is still needed. On first taking office in 1999, the Labour Assembly Government inherited services overburdened with demand and needing fundamental change to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It was in seeking to address these problems that we took the decision to lay the foundations for the long term.

In our third term, we will seek to build on the firm foundations we have laid. Services have improved, with waiting times falling and investment rising. Our third term will imbed further these improvements by continuing to drive up the quality of services and by improving the wider patient experience across the NHS.

Designed for Life, the Labour Assembly Government ten year plan, sets out Labour’s three long term aims for the NHS in Wales, namely services that are fast, safe and reliable, that are accessible to all and personal to the individual and that help individuals and communities to lead healthier lives by making earlier intervention and preventative action a priority.

Our third term will be characterised by this sort of practical service improvement and we want people to judge our success against their own experiences as patients, relatives, carers and users.

We understand the challenges which remain ahead of us, namely to continue to drive down long waits for hospital treatment, improve access to NHS dentistry, improve the quality and range of primary care services, drive up and maintain the highest standards of hospital cleanliness and hygiene, improve the wider patient experience and improve health by implementing a ban on smoking in public places.

This document will set out how we intend to meet these challenges in our third term and why Welsh Labour is the only choice for people and communities who remain committed to rising investment in an NHS free at the point of need.

Firm Foundations

While we would never claim that the Welsh NHS is perfect, we reject the dangerous and opportunistic assertions of the opposition parties that the service is failing patients and their families. In the case of the Tories these claims are designed with one specific purpose in mind: the eventual break-up and privatisation of the NHS.

Thanks to Welsh Labour’s stewardship, the NHS has taken enormous strides forward in improving the primary, secondary, community and social care services it delivers, to meet the needs of today and tomorrow.

Throughout our first and second terms we placed a clear focus on health promotion and on early intervention and preventative action to help people and communities lead more active and healthy lives. Local community projects have been established throughout Wales through the Health Inequalities Fund and other Labour Assembly Ministers have taken action also. For example, our free swimming initiative is the first national scheme of its kind and is delivering tremendous health benefits for both older and young people.

Real progress has been made too on cutting waiting times for treatment. Through investment in building additional capacity and targeted investment in priority areas we have helped to dramatically reduce waiting times for patients. The second offer scheme has successfully helped to slash long waits for treatment, with no patient now waiting more than twelve months for treatment. Thanks to the huge investment and reforms introduced by the Labour Assembly Government, eight out of ten patients wait less than eight months for treatment.

Major improvements have been made to waiting times for primary care as well. In 93 per cent of areas we are meeting the target of promising access to a member of the primary care team within 24 hours.

More frontline staff are working for the NHS than since 1997, with nurse numbers up by 8,230 and consultant numbers up by 530. Thanks to the progress we have made we remain on course to meet our ambitious recruitment targets for NHS staff by 2010.

Our plans mean that NHS capital investment will treble with a third term Labour Assembly Government. This investment is already making a huge difference to patients, with seven new community hospitals opened or on the way including at Ebbw Vale, Hollywell and Rhondda. Major improvements have been made to services in other areas, including a new orthopaedic unit at St. Woolas and the introduction of automated pharmacy dispending systems in hospitals across Wales.

We have made progress to on delivering our key manifesto promises from the last Assembly Election. The cost of prescription charges have been cut to just £3 and as promised they will be scrapped altogether by the end of this Assembly term. We have exceeded our promise to increase investment on health facilities. We promised to investment £550m over the lifetime of this Assembly, but we will actually have invested over £700m. Legislation has been passed by the UK Labour Government to appoint a Commissioner for Older People and the post will be filled by 2007. There has been a 90% increase in investment in dental services and thousands of dental places have been created through the Personal Dental Scheme.

This is all progress which would be undermined if a Tory-led coalition takes power at the next election. To consolidate this progress we need to return a Labour Assembly Government and ensure that our NHS remains free to all, personal to each and investment is targeted at the communities in greatest need.

Reducing inequalities and creating a healthy Wales

Welsh Labour’s goal is to create an NHS which is a health as well as an illness service, and which plays a central role in making Wales a more equal country. We understand that tackling the remaining health inequalities in Wales and giving people the practical support and encouragement to lead healthier, happier lives are both crucial actions in our mission to deliver social justice in Wales.

Welsh Labour is determined to narrow the health gap which still exists between some communities in Wales by improving the health outcomes of our poorest communities.

During a third term Labour Assembly Government, we will build on the introduction of a fairer funding formula for health spending, and the important work carried out under the Health Inequalities Fund.

We will continue to implement the ‘Townsend’ formula progressively, to help ensure that each LHB receives fair funding based on direct health need. In line with the first Townsend Report, the Assembly Government has already commissioned a review of the latest data, and a third term Labour Assembly Government will ensure that our actions to implement a fairer funding formula are fit for purpose, based on the best information available.

A third term Labour Welsh Assembly Government will also review current and new NHS policies and initiatives in terms of their effects on child poverty. We will ensure that the Welsh NHS and Social services play their part in meeting Welsh Labour’s commitment to ending child poverty in a generation. As part of this we will continue to support the healthy schools programmes to make sure we deliver a healthy lifestyle to children at all times. We will build on the progress already made and drive up nutritional standards in our schools.

Meanwhile, the Inequalities in Health Fund‘s 62 innovative projects which are tackling health inequalities will continue to benefit from Assembly Government funding into the Assembly’s third term. We will extend funding to these projects to 2008 to enable these projects to continue with the important work they are carrying out in some of our most disadvantaged communities. As we look to the Assembly’s third term, Welsh Labour will use the work of the fund as a way of improving staff awareness of complex chronic diseases and conditions, including Coronary Heart Disease.

We will also look to support innovative local initiatives in this field, including new ways in which GPs can further help to provide and promote access to activities which promote fitness and well being, building on the success of the exercise referral schemes which are up and running in many parts of Wales.

Welsh Labour will also continue our innovative work to ensure that health service providers act as gateways of advice and support to a whole host of related services which improve the quality of life for people in our most disadvantaged communities. Initiatives such as the successful Better Advice, Better Health scheme which is in operation in many GP surgeries will continue to play an important role in providing access to welfare advice, for example.

Thanks to Welsh Labour, Wales is now leading the way in driving forward a health agenda which combines intervention and prevention and this approach will be strengthened and widened in the Assembly’s third term. The aim is to provide people of all ages and backgrounds with opportunities to make informed decisions which will lead to healthier, longer lives.

We will increase to over £70m our investment in health promotion and health improvement. Through this we will match our words with investment.

Health Challenge Wales will continue to be the driving force behind our health improvement policy and Labour in a third term will continue to look to a partnership approach with individuals and communities as the best way of making Wales a healthier country. We will also continue to work with, and to challenge, Welsh civil society, voluntary organisations and the media in this area.

Health Challenge Wales’ work to support individuals and communities in improving their health by encouraging a healthy lifestyle, healthy eating and physical activity will be stepped up a gear during the Assembly’s third term. We also recognise that achieving these important changes in attitude and practice, whilst increasingly supported by the public in Wales, marks a step change which will not occur overnight.

Even with this level of investment and Government action, we acknowledge that our objective of making Wales a healthier country will not be achieved through pigeon-holed departmental initiatives alone. That is why the Labour Welsh Assembly Government’s agenda leading policies in other departments, including our Climbing Higher strategy to promote physical activity, free school breakfasts-and healthier school- meals will also have a vitally important part to play in the Assembly’s third term.

Other third term initiatives will include an examination of new measures to ensure that our programme of immunisation, including take-up rates, is adequately protecting all our communities. During our third term, a Labour Welsh Assembly Government will also work actively with our UK Labour Government on the implementation of all relevant aspects of the recently published Public Health Bill.

A third term Labour Assembly Government will also stand ready to support and work with the UK Government in looking at measures to address the issue of the advertising and marketing of food and drink which is high in fat, sugar or salt to children.

Putting an end to smoking in enclosed public places

In line with the expressed will of the National Assembly and the views of an increasing number of people in Wales, a third term Labour Assembly Government will implement a ban on smoking in enclosed public places in Wales – the single greatest contribution to improving public health which is available to us today. With evidence showing that smoking related illnesses cause 6,000 premature deaths a year and with some 70 percent of smokers saying that they want to give up, Welsh Labour believes that now is the time to act on the concerns and views of non-smokers and smokers alike.

We will introduce a ban on smoking in public places by early in a third term in order to protect workers and the general public from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. The new law will affect most public premises, including restaurants, pubs, bars, shops, cinemas, shopping centres, leisure centres, other enclosed workplaces and public transport.

Whilst a wide-ranging consultation on draft regulations is currently underway to determine issues such as definitions and proposed exemptions, Welsh Labour remains committed to the fullest possible ban, and to ensuring its full implementation during the Assembly’s third term and beyond.

Putting the patient first

In our third term we will place a renewed focus on improving the ‘nuts and bolts’ experience for patients and their families by making wards cleaner, hospital food more nutritious and tailoring services more to the needs of individual patients. This will be one of the driving forces for the next stage of investment and reform in a third term Labour Assembly Government.

We will build and facilitate new partnerships between the citizen and the service, in which the contribution -of both users and professionals is recognised and rewarded. Welsh Labour believes that we all have a part to play in achieving better health. Patients are not the passive recipients of care but should be kept informed about their condition anti allowed to become fully engaged about their treatment and about how they can best look after their own health.

An improved focus on the relationship between midwives and mothers has, for example, helped to reduce infant mortality rates in Wales. We will prioritise in our third term patients with chronic conditions that have particular requirements and ensure they are given the appropriate advice and treatment to help them manage their conditions.

During our third term, we will ensure that the patient experience within the primary and secondary health sectors is improved. But we also accept that patients have a critical role to play and a responsibility to ensure that the system works effectively for all. During our third term, we will support LHBs in raising awareness amongst patients about the problems created by missing appointments with their local GPs to help alleviate’ waiting times at local surgeries and medical centres.

Welsh Labour believes that there is a need for a clearer patients’ representation system in the healthcare system, in both the Primary and Secondary sectors. We believe that such a step-change will help to secure a more patient focussed service and allow patients to claim ownership of their NHS. A third term Labour Assembly Government will therefore look at initiatives to introduce a more focussed and accessible patient advocacy system to ensure that patients are provided with clear, simpler information, from the outset of their diagnosis and treatment.

Welsh Labour also recognises that the condition of the care environment matters to patients and is a very real way of improving the patient experience. That is why a third term Labour Assembly Government will invest in practical measures, such as the modernisation of waiting areas in A&E and other hospital departments. We will continue to support the work of Community Health Councils in Wales as part of improving the patient experience.

Improving Primary care

Primary care is the shop front of the modern NHS. It is the first point of contact in 9 out of 10 cases and it provides a range of important services and is the gateway to nearly all further treatment.

Welsh Labour wants to see the range of services offered at this level go from strength to strength in the Assembly’s third term. We believe that a successful primary care sector which patients look to for a wider range of services, and in which medical professionals want to work is critical to meeting our aim of securing a strong community focussed health service. Primary care has a key role to play in helping to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions, help people live independently and to ensure that treatment takes place closer to people, in their homes or communities.

As part of our patient centred approach, we will look at measures to expand the services that patients have locally, with the aim of delivering convenient, high quality and accessible care through the NHS.

That is why a third term Labour Assembly Government will prioritise investment in primary care and target resources to ensure greater equity of access in areas with the greatest health need. We will build on our successes and focus on improving access in areas with acute shortages.

A third term Labour Assembly Government will continue our successful approach of enabling primary care providers, such as GP surgeries, to expand the range of services they offer at the local level. We will support innovative ways of expanding the amount of routine treatment that takes place in the community. In particular we will look to fund community based treatment and services, including physiotherapists and specialist nurses, for people with chronic diseases and expand the range of treatments that can take place in the community. We will build on our success in expanding the number of salaried GPs in Wales, particularly in areas where services need strengthening.

Welsh Labour believes in supporting the full range of primary care staff to play- an increasingly important role in our health service. To help deliver this we will widen the range of health professionals able to prescribe drugs and we will enable qualified nurses and pharmacists to expand the range of treatments offered in primary care settings.

To further expand the range of services available to patients we will introduce measures to improve the scope of services offered by NHS Direct, including services that can be provided on-line.

Improving GP services

Welsh Labour believes that 21st century GP services need to be more flexible in order to better reflect the needs. of patients, such as working families and younger people, and the demands of modern life.

In particular, we feel that there is now a specific need to provide many of the more targeted services such as well woman and well man clinics during extended hours, in order to accommodate the needs of working people.

A third term Labour Welsh Assembly Government will examine new systems which will ensure greater GP and Primary Care team cover and allow surgeries to open later into the evening.

Alongside these measures to improve the services on offer to local communities, a third term Welsh Labour Assembly Government will continue to promote measures to encourage the recruitment and retention of GP’s, particularly in areas with acute shortages.

Welsh Labour also believes that nurse practitioners are making a real contribution to addressing primary health care needs and to alleviating pressures placed on GPs. During our third term we will carry out further work to ensure that older people, in particular, understand that nurse practitioners are just as capable as GPs of dealing with many of the more routine health issues they might face.

Supporting our Community Pharmacies

Welsh Labour firmly believes that pharmacies have a growing and vitally important part to play in delivering advice, support and improved primary care across Wales’ varied communities.

The new pharmacy contract, introduced by Labour extends the range of services offered by Wales’ network of more than 700 local pharmacies and a Labour Assembly Government after 2007 will work with Community Pharmacy Wales and others to ensure that patients and individual pharmacies engage with these exciting new opportunities. Thanks to the contract, community pharmacists will increasingly be able to pray a more proactive role in improving the health and well-being of local communities.

During our third term in the Assembly, we will work in partnership with pharmacists and other relevant health professionals to extend the range of services which pharmacists provide, for example through the promotion of regular cholesterol and blood pressure check-ups and the targeting of people who are at greatest risk.

Improving NHS Dentistry

Welsh Labour has been working hard to improve access to modern dentistry services across Wales. The Labour Assembly Government has made enormous strides forward in strengthening and reforming NHS dentistry to meet the needs of the people of Wales. During the switch over to the new dental. contract, pilot schemes secured NHS provision for more than 702,387 patients and will provide extra access for over 206,637 new patients.

Since April 2006 the number of new dental places has continued to increase. Labour has provided further additional funding, since the contract was introduced, to bring new NHS places to those parts of Wales where provision has been weakest.

During our third term, we will also build on the success of the pilot of Personal Dental Services practices. Having already created an extra 206,000 dentistry places this year, we will continue to focus attention and resources on expanding NHS dental cover in areas such as North and West Wales, where people continue to experience difficulties in accessing an NHS dentist.

A third term Welsh Labour Assembly Government will continue to promote measures to encourage the recruitment and retention of dentists, and we will continue to invest in this crucial service. We believe that the new dental contract which 9 out of 10 NHS dentists have signed up to offers .a great opportunity for dentists and patients alike, and a third term Labour Assembly Government will continue to work in line with the principles contained in the contract.

We will also examine the possibility of fresh initiatives to encourage newly qualified dentists to stay with the NHS for a fixed period of time in return for financial assistance, such as support towards the cost of tuition fees, for example.

Secondary care: faster treatment, improved services

Improving the delivery of secondary care services, alongside our radical agenda setting initiatives to prevent ill health and improve primary care, will continue to be a priority during a third term labour Assembly Government.

Designed for Life sets out a radical way forward as we build a world class health service fit for the 21st Century. The radical redesign of services we envisage will enable Wales to develop the high quality, accessible and sustainable services it needs for the future.

The current consultation and review of the way our major hospitals deliver services in each of the three NHS regions in Wales is an important step towards our ambition of building a sustainable and successful secondary care sector in Wales during the Assembly’s next term.

Crucially, the Labour Welsh Assembly Government has ensured that this process, which was recommended by the universally supported Wanless Review, will be driven by a strong consultation process involving the communities affected, and in line with local needs and circumstances. .

A third term Labour Assembly Government will base its decisions on the outcome of the consultation and review, ensuring that we take decisions which are in the best long term interest of communities across Wales.

Welsh Labour will continue to invest in capital initiatives including equipment and buildings to make our secondary care sector fit for the health challenges we face as a nation. By the first year of the third Assembly term, for example, we will be investing £200m more on capital investment than in 2004-05. Labour will also look to continue to build a clearer divide between elective and emergency care services with District General Hospitals to further reduce waiting times and to ensure effective and reliable treatment for patients.

Cutting waiting times

We understand the distress that long waits can cause for both patients and their families. That is why Welsh Labour has set tough and challenging waiting time targets and has invested in new capacity to ensure that patients wait for as little time as possible for treatment and for appointments.

We have secured enormous progress in this critical aim, and people across Wales are now being seen and treated much faster. Cutting the length of time that people have to wait for treatment will continue to be a top priority for a third term Labour Assembly Government.

Following on from our success in bringing waiting times down to a maximum 12 months for both inpatients and outpatients, we will ensure that by the end of 2009, the maximum total waiting time from GP referral to treatment will be 6 months, including waiting times for diagnostic tests. As is the case today, most people will be treated more quickly than the maximum.

We will use a full range of methods to reach our ambition of quicker access to treatment in all parts of Wales. A third term Labour Assembly Government will, for example, continue to increase the amount of day-case procedures undertaken and will fully utilise other available capacity to ensure that patients get treatment quickly and conveniently.

We will also continue to roll out the booked admissions system, in order to reduce the number of missed appointments and to improve services for patients. Alongside a more effective division between elective and emergency treatment, these changes will improve services for patients.

Modernising the healthcare environment

In our third term Welsh Labour will invest in improving and modernising conditions for patients in our hospitals, because we recognise that the healthcare environment is an important part of the patient experience.

And we recognise that continued action is needed to ensure our hospitals and other healthcare settings are safe, clean and hygienic.

Welsh Labour recognises the public concern over cleanliness in hospitals and has acted decisively to address this concern head on. Daring our third term, we will ensure that our current legislative initiative to create ‘Patients Champions’ on every NHS Trust Board is up and running. These ‘Patients Champions’ will lead on issues of cleaning, hygiene and infection management and we believe they will have a -crucial role in advocacy and maintaining public trust in this important area.

Hospital cleaning services were neglected for too long under the Tories, and we recognise the high level of confidence that many people have in in-house cleaning services. Since the Labour Assembly Government acted to create a level playing field in this area, every contract awarded has been won by an in-house bid.

Improving Cancer services

Tackling cancer will continue to be a top health priority for a third term Labour Assembly Government. We will continue to place a focus on prevention, early detection, improved access to services and better quality diagnosis, treatment and palliative care. The Assembly Government is currently in the process of developing a formal policy statement reflecting this holistic approach, in line with the principles set out in Designed for Life. A third term Labour Assembly Government will be guided by the aims of this policy, including the formal. targets it will set.

Labour will also continue to strengthen the key role played by Wales’ three Cancer Networks covering South East Wales, Mid and South West Wales and North Wales, particularly in the areas of commissioning of services and their reconfiguration.

Health service management

Good management is an essential part of a successful health service, but likewise poor management leads to patients getting a poor service. A third term Labour Assembly Government will support innovative management and reward it with giving local managers-additional autonomy in how to run local services. But we will also not hesitate to withdraw autonomy where managers are failing patients. The creation of the Assembly offers an opportunity to impose greater accountability on managers for the actions that they take. We will improve also local community engagement in how NHS Trusts are run, ensuring that managers are accountable to both the Assembly Government and to local people.

In a third term, Labour will look at ways of reforming Trust Boards to improve accountability to patients and reinforce their status as part of an NHS-in-common, not the destructive, competitive model inherited from the Tories.

Supporting NHS staff

Welsh Labour recognises that the future success of the NHS depends on well trained, supported and motivated staff. Labour in the Assembly will continue to move forward in partnership with health professionals, while ensuring at all times that patients get the best deal possible.

We will ensure that opportunities for staff to train in primary, secondary and social care are a key part of our third term approach. Welsh Labour recognises that people are more likely to work where they train and we will ensure that opportunities to train in Wales are a key part of our third term approach.

Joined up health and social care

A third term Labour Assembly Government will continue to invest in improving local social services in order to meet and anticipate the demands of an ageing population, and to ensure that both health and social services work in an ever more joined up way.

Improving the care and the treatment that patients receive requires an effective partnership with local government, and a third term Assembly Government will continue to prioritise this agenda. We will work with the WLGA and individual local authorities to give social services a much higher profile in working across local boundaries to champion the needs of families and vulnerable people.

Welsh Labour believes that while Local authorities should remain both commissioners and providers of services, they need to take a more active role in shaping the mixed market of private, public and voluntary care.

The pattern of local social care services provided in the future must reflect the fact that complex long -term conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, do not fit neatly into rigid categories of care.

We will continue to break down remaining barriers between health and social care in order to improve people’s health, improve the quality of life for carers and service users., Breaking down barriers will also help to further relieve pressure on secondary care. There will also be action to include further measures to secure stronger collaborative working within and between authorities and across other bodies.

Welsh Labour’s approach will be guided by the implementation of a ten-year strategy for reforming and improving social services. This strategy will develop additional capacity to deliver necessary improvements for users and carers, as well as strengthening the social care workforce. We will ensure that users and carers have a strong voice in the delivery of services and that there is genuine improvement in performance management and in better scrutiny arrangements. Underpinning all of this will be stronger partnerships across organisational boundaries.

Reducing delayed transfers of care

Real progress has already been made in joint working between the NHS and social services. Through this work delayed transfers of care have dropped by dropped by over 12% between 2005-2006 alone. The number of delayed transfers of care are now at their lowest since records began.

During our third term, we will build on this good work and will aim to reduce delayed transfers of care still further. We will continue to provide direct funding for Local Health Boards to ensure patients in hospital are able to be discharged quickly into the most appropriate care setting.

Labour’s third Assembly term will see a continued and growing emphasis on responsive, local care services which care for people in their own homes and communities. This will allow older people and others to maintain their independence and to reduce pressures on hospitals. Increasing the alternatives to admitting people to hospital is an important element in treating people more quickly and conveniently and to freeing up the secondary care sector to perform their core tasks better.

Addressing the needs of the Social Care workforce

We recognise that without a well paid and well trained workforce we will not be able to deliver the quality of service that people need and that we want to deliver. We have made some real progress in recent years with an 11% increase in the number of people with a social work qualification between 2002/03 to 2004/05 and increases in the number of occupational therapists and direct care staff in local authorities.

There are still huge challenges ahead however and a third term Labour Assembly Government will take action to tackle the unacceptably low skills and qualification levels in the children’s residential care sector. Furthermore, while there have been increases in the number of people working in the sector, these improvements have not kept pace with the rise in the demand for services. Welsh Labour is proposing a more diverse model for the future which uses the skills of a better qualified social care workforce. Our aim throughout the third term will be to secure a workforce with the right skills mix to support the reshaping of services to meet the needs of the next decade and which meets the needs of users.

Our draft strategy for social services proposes a number of actions which the Assembly Government will take with its partners to support the changes required. During our third term we will fulfil our commitment, contained in the strategy, to deliver a national action plan for the social care workforce.

We will also put in place stronger, more accountable political, professional and managerial leadership for social services.

Recognising the role of Carers

Our draft strategy for social services over the next decade makes clear our commitment to a greater recognition of the contribution of carers and to improving respite care services.

During our third term, our key policy will remain the strengthening of those services which help people to remain living in their own homes-for as long as possible. We will also look at new ways of putting a renewed focus on respite care where that helps individuals and carers to maintain their long-term living arrangements.

Of course, a role will remain for residential care in providing high quality, and responsive care services. Where gaps in provision remain, we will look to the best available means of increasing supply of places, using a variety of methods, including the voluntary and not-for-profit provision in the care home system in Wales, as well as public sector provision through local authorities. We will work to ensure the highest possible standards and safeguards are in place in all care settings.

Improving mental health services

Labour will continue to improve mental health services in our third Assembly term. Working with the Mental Health Network we will develop innovative solutions in primary care, share good practice and ensure that staff members are appropriately trained and aware of the needs of mental health patients. Welsh Labour will continue to-promote measures to tackle stigma surrounding mental health issues, and we will increase the involvement from patients and carers and improve hospital advocacy services.

Welsh Labour in the National Assembly will be guided by the Revised Adult Mental Health Services NSF and the developing Mental Health Promotion Action Plan as we work to improve mental health services.

We will also examine new recruitment initiatives aimed at increasing the capacity of Child and Adult Mental Health services across Wales, in recognition of the current high levels of vacancies in some areas of Wales.

Safeguarding our children

Welsh Labour’s aim is to ensure that all our children enjoy safe, healthy and productive lives. During our third term we will continue to strengthen safeguards for children across the Welsh Public Service to promote their welfare and protect them from harm. Our actions will at all times be guided by the wide-ranging the recommendations of the report of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Children Review, chaired by Gwenda Thomas AM. Our key aim must be to halt and reverse the rising number of children in Wales who are removed from their families into public care.

Listening to older people

A third term Labour Assembly Government will use the implementation of the Older People Strategy to improve services for older people, including the opportunities for learning and leisure.

With an increasingly ageing population, we recognise how important it is to ensure our older people continue to play an active role in society. Thanks to Welsh Labour, the needs and interests of older people in Wales will soon be safeguarded and promoted by the UK’s first Commissioner for Older People. Like our groundbreaking Children’s Commissioner, the Commissioner for Older People will give older people a voice which will be listened to in Wales.