David Haye versus Enzo Maccarinelli was only the suppoprting bout in Wales, this week. Top of the bill was Welsh Assembly Health Minister, Edwina Hart v the Westminster bantamweight, Ben Bradshaw. He'd made the mistake of deliberately standing on the Gower bruiser's toes when he rubbished the Assembly Government's record on health. Wales on Sunday are reporting the latest blow from the lady's clunking fist today.
It seems that the Minister has written to all AMs, defending the Government's record. In the letter she is reported to have claimed that the number of patients waiting to see a hospital specialist is at its lowest since figures were recorded, that the outpatient list is at its lowest for 7 years, that 99% of cancer patients are being treated within the 31 day target, and that 999 waiting times are improving. All this was accompanied by some typically robust commentary. Mr Bradshaw's attack on the Assembly Government's record was belittled as 'some recent media attention'.
Now lets be fair here. These claims are probably correct. Things are improving. But they remain way behind the equivalent figures for England. Where Edwina Hart's claims fall apart are that the improvement is only from the appalling position which was created by one of her Labour predecessors, Jane Hutt when she was the Assembly's first Health Minister. From 1999 on, what Wales experienced was a Minister obsessed with reorganising and building a complex bureaucracy of different healthcare organisations based on local authority boundaries. At the time we all told her it would lead to failure. At the same time, the Labour Government at Westminster was focused on getting waiting lists down.
Sorry Edwina Hart, but you are still a member of the same Cabinet as Jane Hutt. Things may well be improving under your watch, but you carry a collective responsibility for the dreadful performance with which you are drawing comparison. You should save your letters, boasting about performance, until your Government can claim to matche the performance being achieved over the border in England.