Local AM welcomes “great news on transport investment plans”

Dawn Bowden, local Assembly Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, has welcomed official confirmation of the progress being made with major transport investment projects for the constituency.

Dawn was today (13.02.19) delighted to receive assurances from Ken Skates AM, the Welsh Government Minister for Economy and Transport, that good progress is being made on the planned improvements for the A465 (Heads of the Valleys), for a new bus station in Merthyr Tydfil and for the rollout of new trains on the Metro system in the coming years.

Dawn Bowden AM said “I have kept pressing the case for these major new investments and it is reassuring to hear from the Minister that they are all now getting closer to delivery from the pipeline of investment plans. They will each deliver significant investment and of course fresh opportunities in the years ahead. Irrespective of the outcome of the Brexit debate these are projects, and this is all investment, that our Welsh Government can help to deliver. The work to ensure their success goes on”.

Dawn added “These projects involve significant investment, procurement, training and job opportunities. They will provide stronger connections for both parts of my constituency to the job opportunities in the wider City region, but importantly they will also mean Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney can make stronger offers for further investment in to our local economies. Of course we need access to jobs, but I also keep pressing the case for ‘Jobs Closer to Home’ in our valleys communities. We have strong foundations and these transport investments can help to take us to the next level”.

“So alongside this major transport investment I also want to see a new economic plan for the communities along the Heads of the Valleys that will also help to deliver our vision for further investment in tourism and culture, our environment and the newer emerging and digital technologies. We must continue to have bold aspirations for new investment in our communities so that we look to bring projects to the Upper Rhymney valley as well as  locations like the former Hoover site and “The Crucible” in Merthyr Tydfil. The investment in transport will help to bring plans from the drawing board in to reality”.

Watch the question to Economy Minister Ken Skates from Dawn Bowden here:



New support announced for previous recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant

Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services Julie Morgan has announced an independent social work assessment will be offered to all former Independent Living Fund (ILF) recipients who are unhappy with their new care and support package and would like a second opinion.

The Welsh Government will provide additional funding to local authorities for the cost of the workers to carry out these independent assessments and additional care hours that may result from the assessments.

The independent assessments will be consistent with people’s agreed wellbeing outcome and acknowledge the historical entitlement of former ILF recipients.

Mrs Morgan said:

“It is paramount that people’s ability to live independently is not compromised by changes the care and support provided for people previously in receipt of the Welsh Independent Living Grant. These changes will ensure that is the case and deliver a consistent level of care and support across Wales.

“While the majority of former ILF recipients are receiving the same or more care as they were previously, a significant number have experienced a reduction in hours of support. There is also considerable variation in the reductions in support.

“I have therefore written to local government leaders to request a pause of the transition with immediate effect in order to bring in the revised arrangements.

“This is a significant change of approach that ensures that the needs of former WILG recipients will be fully met, and that resources are no barrier to a full package of care and support.

I would like to thank Nathan Davies and his colleagues in the Save the WILG Campaign for the representations they have made to Welsh Government on this matter. I have met with Nathan twice in the last three weeks to hear his concerns and to seek to develop a new approach. I understand that Nathan is supportive in principle of the new approach Welsh Government intend to take. We share a common interest in seeing it implemented properly.”

Transforming eye care services in Wales

Eye care patients in Wales who are at the greatest risk of going blind are set to receive faster, prioritised treatment in the Welsh NHS thanks to a £3.3m investment by the Welsh Government to transform services, Health Minister Vaughan Gething announced today.

It is estimated around 111,000 people in Wales are living with sight loss. This is predicted to increase by a third by 2030 and double by 2050.  Evidence suggests around 10% of new patients are at risk of irreversible sight loss compared to about 90% of follow-up patients.

Following concerns raised by consultant ophthalmologists and RNIB, the Welsh Government commissioned an NHS-led group to review the issues facing patients on waiting lists, particularly those who require ongoing treatment.

The £3.3m investment will allow health boards in Wales to start the necessary changes to transform their services.

Actions include:

  • expanding services already established to move care closer to home, to ensure patients are seen in the most appropriate setting
  • redesigning pathways to those nationally agreed
  • introducing and further development of  virtual clinics
  • expanding the skill mix of staff, to include nurse injectors and optometrists to safely share care between community and hospital eye care professionals.

From April 2019, new guidelines will require hospital eye services to have procedures in place ensuring patients receive their assessment or treatment by the most suitable person within a clinically appropriate time. This means that those high risk patients who need be seen quickly due to their condition, should experience fewer delays.

The measures are based on priority and urgency of care required by each patient. Priority is the risk of harm associated with the patient’s eye condition if the target appointment date is missed. Urgency is how soon that patient should be seen given the current state and/or risk of progression of the condition.

Wales is the first UK nation to introduce a measure of this kind for eye care patients.

Health Minister, Vaughan Gething said:

“Ensuring good eye care is absolutely vital, so we do not want people to risk their sight by having to wait a long time for a follow up appointment after having initial assessment.

“The £3.3m investment I’m announcing today will allow health boards across Wales to make the necessary investments to start to transform eye care services. This and the new measure we are putting in place will go a long way to improving services for people in Wales.”

“We were the first government in the world to have an eye care delivery plan, and I’m pleased we are leading the way again by being the first country in the UK to introduce a performance measure of this kind for eye care.”

RNIB Cymru’s Director Ansley Workman said:

“Cancelled and delayed eye clinic appointments can leave patients at risk of irreversible sight loss. No one should lose their sight because of a treatable condition. That’s why it’s so important that all health boards meet the March 2019 deadline for implementing the new Measures and prioritise patients based on their risk of coming to harm.

“This investment from Welsh Government is vital and should transform services across Wales, making sure that those at greatest risk of permanent sight loss are treated quickly and effectively.

“We want to thank Welsh Government for their continued commitment to improving eye health in Wales. Now it is up to health boards across the country to make this positive change happen for their patients and lead the way for the rest of the UK.”