I'm knackered again. Been another long day. Away by 6.00 this morning to chair a conference at the Technium Centre, near Bangor. Actually it was to chair jointly with former MEP, Eurig Wyn. Conference was sponsored by RESEC Cymru - that's Research into Specialist Elderly Care. RESEC is based in Oxford University, and has recognised devolution by establishing a Welsh 'branch'. It was a terrific Conference, even if the agenda was such that there was not much room for interaction with the 130 plus crowd who turned up. The Technium Centre is an impressive location - but one very black mark today. We had to delay the start by 30 minutes because the bl***y microphone wasn't working. I may have appeared cool on the surface, but I was spitting firecrackers inside. After 30 minutes, was so cross that I could barely speak. My first rule of chairing is to stick to time. And the programme was too packed to catch up. Anyway, thanks to Ieuan Wyn Jones, Deputy First Minister for flying up to open the Conference. I do think dementia is starting to receive the higher level of awareness it deserves. Keeping momentum through the inevitable lower public spending that's coming will be a challenge. I learned a lot today.
Good news today on the campaign to persuade the Assembly Government to establish a Renal Dialysis Unit at Welshpool. We've been awaiting a date from the Chair of Kidney Foundation Wales to launch it - and today we agreed a date. Actually, the case seems to have been won. This blog has reported already that on Jan 6th, the decision (in principle) was taken at a meeting in Cardiff City Hall. But I want a good crowd to turn up at the launch, and I'll start the organising ball rolling on Monday. Put Feb 10th in your diaries.
Another health issue that really interests me was the Dragon's Eye report last night on the Health Minister, Edwina Hart's decision to develop specialist neurosurgery services in South Wales on two sites (Cardiff and Swansea) rather than on one site in Cardiff. I'm divided on this issue. I cannot disagree with my former Conservative colleague in the National Assembly, Jonathon Morgan who has really sunk his canines into the Minister's leg, describing her decision as 'reckless' and informing us that he'd 'lost confidence' in her. There seems no doubt that the Minister ignored professional advice. My only reservation is that I rather approve of Ministers sometimes taking decisions contrary to advice. I often disagree with Edwina Hart, but I respect her willingness not to be her 'official's puppet'. I do not believe she took the right decision on this issue though.