ON May 7, the residents of Montgomeryshire will choose who they want to represent the region as their Member of Parliament for the next five years.
The County Times will be challenging the Montgomeryshire parliamentary candidates with a different question each week so our readers can decide who they want to represent them.
We begin this week with healthcare/hospitals and the candidates outline what they will do if you elect them on May 7...
Ann Griffith (Plaid Cymru)
During the first few days of the election campaign it has become apparent that health matters are a major concern to residents from Montgomeryshire.
They want an Urgent Care Centre.
They want to keep A & E services in Shrewsbury and they want to stop the removal of services from Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth.
They are worried about travelling long distances for medical attention and about ambulance arrival times and delayed transfers of care “bed blocking”. They are unhappy about children and young people being treated for mental health problems and placed at risk in adult wards.
I am proud that Wales was the birthplace of the NHS and am committed to ensuring that the Welsh health service is the best for patients and staff.
Plaid Cymru rejects the privatisation of the NHS and its inclusion in the EU-US free trade deal The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership known as TTIP.
We are committed to providing fully integrated health and social care so that services are based on patients’ needs rather than the needs of the organisation.
Plaid Cymru will increase the number of doctors per head of population to match England, by training and recruiting 1,000 additional doctors.
We will increase resources for ambulances and staffing to ensure sufficient ambulance care, including nurses, paramedics to treat at the scene.
Plaid Cymru will ensure there is sufficient health care in the home by promoting district nursing, specialist care for children and older people, cancer patients and end of life care.
We will raise awareness of mental health issues and increase access to talking therapies, drugs and alcohol therapies and services for our children and young people.
Plaid Cymru are committed to improving public health and well-being.
Glyn Davies (Conservative)
The dominating issue during my five years as Montgomeryshire’s MP has been our NHS.
It’s the subject most often raised as I call on Montgomeryshire people during this election campaign.
I’ve long taken a close personal interest in health issues. At Westminster, I’ve chaired the Kidney and Heart Disease groups. I’m also a member of Cancer and Dementia Groups.
The speech in Parliament I’m most proud of was about the Liverpool Care Pathway.
At home, I’m honoured to be president of both the Parkinson’s Disease and Motor Neurone Disease branches, and to have been involved in the campaign for the brilliant Renal Dialysis Unit serving all Montgomeryshire. Nothing is more important to us than our family’s health.
And no issue will be more dominating during the next five years for the Montgomeryshire MP than our NHS. We face uncertainties about NHS services at Aberystwyth, Wrexham and over the border in Shropshire.
Reform of services is inevitable. For 15 years I’ve been arguing for services to be focused on Shrewsbury rather than Telford, which is too far away for the people of Mid Wales.
It’s particularly important that the proposed new ‘Emergency’ Centre is near Shrewsbury.
It’s also important for those living in West Montgomeryshire that a wide range of services are retained at Bronglais, and I will continue to work closely with Montgomeryshire AM, Russell George on this.
For five years, the Coalition Government maintained NHS spending in England, but it’s still been a challenge keeping up with extra costs arising from new drugs and us all living longer.
Most people I talk to speak of a high level of care when under treatment, a great credit to our doctors and nurses.
There are so many other NHS issues as well, especially support for our GP network and links to social care.
Our NHS will always be my top priority.
Jane Dodds (Lib Dem)
Mae gwasanaethau iechyd yn ardalau gwledig yn bwysig iawn. Having knocked on nearly 10,000 doors in the past 18 months, healthcare is the most frequent issue people have raised with me.
I have heard so often of stories of the most vulnerable pregnant women having to travel the furthest to give birth, of people having to wait longer for their operations, and of operations being cancelled because we live in Wales.
I had over 1,200 responses to my health survey last year. I know that our doctors and nurses are highly respected in the work they do. We just need more of them and we need them closer to us. I will fight for Shrewsbury and Bronglais Hospitals not to lose any more services, for the A and E in Shrewsbury to stay where it is.
We need an Urgent Care Centre here in Montgomeryshire, which will respond to non-life threatening injuries and be open for 16 hours a day, seven days a week.
I will work to improve ambulance response times, and to make waiting times for treatment for residents in Montgomeryshire the same as for English patients.
Liberal Democrats are committed to find the required £8 billion our health services need – something none of the other parties have agreed to – and mental health must be treated as importantly as physical health.
Welsh Hospitals have fewer nurses per patient than in England, Welsh Liberal Democrats are campaigning to put that right.
Having worked in the public sector all my life, I fully support our National Health Service, and I will fight for better resourced and more local health services. We need these now in Montgomeryshire.
Mae angen nawr am gwasaneathau iechyd well yn Sir Drefaldwyn.
Des Parkinson (UKIP)
The people of Montgomeryshire now have a second class health service.
How has this unfortunate and dangerous situation come about?
It’s partly because the so called Barnett formula used by Westminster Governments since 1978, means a greater proportion of taxpayers’ money is going to Northern Ireland and Scotland than to Wales.
This situation is made worst because:-
a. The Labour controlled Welsh Government has given health spending a low priority.
b. Our major A and E unit is across the border in Shrewsbury, under the control of the English NHS and is under severe threat.
c.The policy makers in Cardiff do not seem to understand the long distances we have to travel for treatment and in emergencies. They often apply urban solutions to rural problems
d. The Welsh population is growing quickly, as the result of uncontrolled immigration.
What would UKIP do to make things better?
We would amend the Barnett formula and give more taxpayers’ money to Wales; bridging the so called spending gap. The Welsh electorate could then put pressure on the Welsh Government to give health spending a higher priority.
We are committed to leaving the EU, so we can control immigration.
With additional money, the Welsh Government could improve local hospitals and would have the funds available to influence the NHS in England to keep the A and E unit open in Shrewsbury. That facility is essential to our wellbeing.
Money would also be available to invest in local GP surgeries, the Welsh Ambulance Service and social care.
Health care staff and care workers in Montgomeryshire are dedicated and hard working. They need all the support we can give them.
UKIP is committed to the NHS being funded by national taxation, being free at the point of delivery and to improving health care in Montgomeryshire.
Vote UKIP on May 7.
Richard Chaloner (Green)
The Green Party is fighting for a publicly funded, publicly provided health service free at the point of use, and an end to the creeping privatisation of the NHS.
We are completely opposed to the Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrat policies of introducing market forces and competition into the NHS which is placing the interests of corporate profits ahead of the nation’s wellbeing. Green MP Caroline Lucas has presented the cross-party NHS Reinstatement Bill to Parliament.
The bill will end the privatisation of the NHS, and restore the founding principles of the NHS: providing care that is truly public, free at the point of delivery, and fully protected.
In Montgomeryshire we face even greater problems. Montgomeryshire is a rural county, and the population is more widely dispersed than any other area of Britain; it also has a greater proportion of older people than elsewhere.
There is no hospital provision in our area, and most patients rely on services in England. This is now under threat of becoming even more inaccessible with plans to move Accident and Emergency and stroke services to Telford.
People in Montgomeryshire have no say in this. Ambulance waiting times are amongst the worst in the UK, and record breaking budget cuts have led to increased pressure on these dedicated professionals, and to ambulance queues outside hospitals.
Health services have been devolved to the Welsh Assembly, which receives less money from central government than other parts of Britain.
The Westminster Government’s policy of austerity has forced budget and funding cuts that leave local people dangerously unsupported.
Without proper investment in our health services plans and big ideas for improvements here simply will not happen.
If elected I will fight for the people of Montgomeryshire to have the properly funded and comprehensive health services that we deserve.
Martyn Singleton (Labour)
It has been nearly 70 years since we as a nation created our National Health Service.
A nation exhausted by depression and total war founded a public service, which stated that all members of our society, rich or poor, old or young, deserved a health service that was free at the point of delivery. I believe that this service born of Wales can be considered one of Britain’s greatest achievements. Protecting and investing into our NHS is a Labour priority.
Aneurin Bevan’s creation embodies our most central belief, that by the strength of our common endeavour we can achieve more than we achieve alone.
Labour has pledged to invest into our Welsh NHS to secure a safe and sustainable health service, To ensure the NHS is always there when you need it.
We will train an extra 1,000 doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to target areas of greatest pressure, funded by a mansion tax on properties worth over £2 million pounds.
We will continue our programme of health reform in Wales, moving more care services out of hospitals and closer to people’s homes and communities, and we will continue to ensure safe and sustainable patterns of service.
Our health workers perform a phenomenal task. It is these services which are under threat from the Conservative health policy already implemented in England and the would be impending budget cuts, not to mention the damaging top-down reorganisation that they promised they would not do.
Welsh Labour recognise that the people of Wales use cross border services, perhaps nowhere is this more acute than Montgomeryshire, where we look towards Shropshire as the more natural hubs of service.
Labour will repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012, working through existing structures to bring the right values back into the heart of the NHS, restoring the Secretary of State’s duty to provide a comprehensive national service free at the point of service.
See full story in the Advertizer