Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tough Choices on Health

I missed an important debate today on reconfiguration of the NHS in Wales. I am looking forward to reading the Record of Proceedings tomorrow. And I abstained on another important vote yesterday on the location of a centre for Adult Neurosurgery. I was deeply concerned about both of the debates which, in effect, instucted the Assembly Government to act in a way which opposition parties wanted. On both, I did not have enough knowledge to feel able to so instuct with total confidence.
In the debate requiring the Adult Neurosurgery Centre to remain at Swansea, I felt some pressure to support the location of an important service in Swansea rather than Cardiff because it would be nearer to the constituency that I represent. But I want the best for my country as a whole, and voted for a Lib Dem amendment that such an important decision should be based on clinical need and not on political expediency. At least, that is how I saw it.
In the debate on reconfigaration (and I would have stayed if we could have won the vote) I would have voted to instuct the Government to stop the reconfigeration in its tracks - but with a heavy heart because I do not know what the consequences would have been. From a constituecy perspective, it would have stopped hospital closures in Mid and West Wales and this would have been enough to win my vote (together with the Chief Whip's instuction of course). But it does seeem a bit odd from a constitutional perspective for the opposition to stop the Assembly Government actually governing for six months - unless we are ready to step in and govern instead of them. I have heard some Labour members say that they hope opposition parties will do just that over the Budget vote in three weeks time. Exercising power is a difficult and serious business. The question is "has the moment arrived?".

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