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Providing Security and Dignity in Retirement

Addressing the annual Welsh Conservative Party Conference in Llangollen, Dr Altaf Hussain AM, Shadow Minister for Social Services, said:

(Check against delivery / Gwirio gyda’r cyflwyniad)

Conference, it is my privilege to be addressing you today as your Assembly Member for South Wales West.

Of course, this has been made possibly by Byron Davies' historic victory in Gower last year. It would be remiss of me not to congratulate Byron and his team.

We are here today to talk about health, and the sad truth is that the horror stories are now so regular that they no longer shock us.

We hear about soaring waiting lists, delayed ambulances and the sickening treatment of many elderly patients across Wales.

This comes against a backdrop where we see more 'managers' on six-figure salaries than ever before and a Welsh Government that has the cheek to demand an apology from us, for highlighting these concerns...

Record numbers of managers. Managers without job descriptions. Record waiting times for treatment.

So, is this management effective, we may ask?

As management costs soar, services in Wales have suffered from being patchy and disjoined - in spite of the best efforts of our tremendous doctors and nurses.

Quite simply, in spite of all Labour's tinkering and costly re-organisation, patients and staff are being failed by a lack of central leadership and a Welsh Government that has proven it is good for nothing but excuses.

Our ageing population presents us with unprecedented challenges.

To deal with these adequately, we need a solid plan for our NHS in Wales that reflects how different services and priorities inter-relate, and that work pro-actively for patients.

Our aim is to combine health and social care as one.

For patients, these needs are not separate.

So, why should politicians treat them any differently? We need action, not denial.

Recently, a campaign has been launched in England, urging people aged between 40 and 65 to drink less, exercise more, eat better and give up smoking.

A great campaign that targets some of the biggest public health challenges for this age group, and for our time.

We know that - where possible - prevention is better than cure.

A Welsh Conservative Government would take every step to provide services that are dynamic, pro-active and anticipate our future needs - at every point in life's journey.

A Welsh Conservative Government would lead the way for Britain when it comes to early intervention strategies.

Labour, by contrast, has no strategy!

Care must be continuous at every stage of life. Our manifesto commits us to introducing 'Stay at Home Assessments' - a free MOT, if you like, offered to everyone upon reaching pensionable age.

This will help social services to understand a person's likely care needs in the future, before a point of crisis such as a fall.

At present, this is often the first time an individual's domestic care needs are assessed - which can lead to delays in discharge and create hold-ups throughout our hospital structures.

Through pro-active intervention, a Welsh Conservative Government would not only help people live healthy lives in their own homes for as long as possible, but will act to arm health and social care professionals with the information they need to plan ahead for effective services.

We can do this best by looking at the person as a whole - no two persons are the same.

And where a person does have the need for residential care services, you can rest assured that a Welsh Conservative Government will act to ensure their dignity and security.

It is therefore my pleasure today to announce, that in addition to the measures announced by Darren, a Welsh Conservative Government will introduce a weekly cap on the cost of their residential care.

Services must be robust, and they must also be fair. It simply is not right that a person who has worked hard and done the right thing all of their life should end up losing everything, by default, if they need to go into a care home.

Welsh Conservatives will always adopt a pro-active approach when it comes to health and social care provision.

We will make management accountable.

Wales has some of the best doctors and nurses in the world; a Welsh Conservative Government will work with them to build a world-class services that Wales deserves - guaranteeing more investment in our health service each and every year.

It is time for proper leadership in our Welsh NHS.

It is time to end Labour’s culture of denial - only a Welsh Conservative Government can deliver this for Wales.

And so we draw to the end of a conference session where we have had some great contributions from Jayne, George, Matthew and Sam - I’m sure Darren would agree with me that they would be an asset to our Group at the Assembly.

Thank you Darren, for your great speech today.

Darren does a wonderful job each week of holding Labour to account in Cardiff Bay and is a joy to work with him on the Health Committee.

Thank you.