Plaid Pledges More Cash For Nurses

Plaid Cymru yesterday promised a full pay rise for nurses as part of its programme for the NHS. It would ditch a staggered increase which will give nurses in England and Wales a 1.5 per cent pay rise in April and another one per cent in November.

In Scotland, they are to get the 2.5 per cent rise all in one go from next month. Wales will adopt the same policy if Plaid wins the election in May, Shadow Health Minister Helen Mary Jones said.

In addition, the party released figures which claimed more hospitals have closed in the first 10 years of Labour Government than the first 10 years of Conservative rule.

A letter to Ms Jones from Health Minister Brian Gibbons confirmed 25 Welsh hospitals have shut since 1997 – 19 of which are since the Assembly was set up in 1999.

In contrast, the first 10 years of Tory rule from 1997 saw just 21 hospitals close.

Ms Jones accused Labour of imposing a model used in English cities in rural Wales, where the next available hospital could be miles away and not easily reachable.

Plaid has pledged to introduce a new system of pooling doctors and nurses between hospitals meaning patients would not have to travel further afield for specialist care.

She said: “That model of a few big hospitals serving a very large population just doesn’t work for us.

“We want to get doctors in these hospitals and specialist nurses working together as a network so that the staff could move but the patients could still get their care in their own community, not Mrs Jones having to go from Machynlleth to Caernarfon.”

Six new hospitals have been built in Wales since 1997, three of them under the Private Funding Initiative, which sees investment from the private sector.