Intended for healthcare professionals


Welsh Assembly candidates target inequalities in health

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 01 May 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1167

Health will take up a substantial slice of the Welsh Assembly's budget, almost a third of the £7.5bn ($12bn) to be spent annually. It has been a major issue in the campaign for the 6 May elections; high on the agenda of problems to be tackled are the length of hospital waiting lists, inequalities in health, the closure of hospital beds, and threats to community hospitals. Roger Dobson reports


The centrepiece of the Labour campaign is an extra £1bn each year for the NHS in Wales over the next three years. The party is also pledging that by the end of a first term in office, no one would wait more than six months for outpatient treatment or more than 18 months for inpatient treatment. A new “health supremo” to break down the barriers between health and social services and sanctions against trusts which don't meet service standards are also promised.

Alun Michael, secretary of state for Wales, said: “I am determined that the extra £3bn is not going to go to waste. We inherited a situation where the management of the NHS in Wales was in something of a crisis. Some health authorities have massive loans, and doubts are being cast about the ways in which various bits of the service are going to be run.”

He has instigated a stock taking of the health service in Wales, with help from the Audit Commission. A report from this task force will go to the assembly. “It arose because I have been very disturbed about the some of the things I have found in the NHS in Wales which I am determined to …

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