In his latest blog for Caerphilly Observer, Caerphilly AM Hefin David discusses the Welsh Government’s draft budget, more trains, and the need to recruit GPs.
Overcrowded trains, poor quality carriages and late services—these are all things that are not good enough about the current rail service. That’s a failure of the current franchise which was awarded by the UK Government some years ago and it’s something that the Welsh Government is taking steps to address.
Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Mark Drakeford AM, recently announced a plan to buy new trains, as part of his Welsh draft budget. This will underpin the new rail franchise, to be introduced and controlled by the Welsh Government for the first time from 2018. It will take time to deliver the new stock but it is good to see this commitment being made.
As your local Assembly Member I know above all, constituents want an efficient and comfortable rail service. I’ve raised these issues with Arriva Trains Wales time and time again and, although I would question Arriva’s competence as a corporate business, individual members of staff at Arriva have been incredibly helpful and supportive in trying to find short term solutions.
They have added two carriages in the morning to the first two services of the day on the Rhymney-to-Cardiff line, which passes through stations from Bargoed through to Caerphilly. They have also introduced additional Sunday services on the line. Greater progress is needed and I am keeping up pressure on this.
On September 20, Assembly Members debated a review of medical recruitment in Wales. This was timely for many in our area as Bargoed Hall Surgery recently closed. Patients in Bargoed have been moved to Bryntirion Surgery nearby, but improvements to the service there are needed from the Aneurin Bevan Health Board.
Surgery closures, which can happen anywhere as GPs retire, often arise because general practice is not seen as an attractive option for medical students, mainly due to the extremely heavy workload. Long hours, packed with appointments lead to burnt out, exhausted, demotivated and demoralised GPs.
So how do we tackle this problem? Surgeries must ease the workload on doctors, having pharmacists, physiotherapists, mental health care professionals and nurse practitioners providing quality care as part of a practice team. That means that it will then become easier to attract doctors to GP practice. I also want to see GPs recruited from our valleys communities, encouraging students in our schools to become doctors.
The Welsh Government’s budget plans also include an additional £230m in 2018-19 and £220m in 2019-20 for NHS Wales and protection for social care and education, which I welcome.
I regularly post video updates on my Facebook page and respond directly to short comments there: www.facebook.com/hefindavidam