FIRST Minister Carwyn Jones told an audience in Llanelli that the proposals to downgrade Prince Phillip Hospital had not come from the Welsh Government but from the Hywel Dda health board, and urged people to take part in the 12 week consultation exercise.
At one of his regular ‘Carwyn Connects’ public Q&A sessions, he answered a range of questions from the public and from the evening’s chair, local author, Alun Gibbard.
He stressed that the pressures of an ageing population meant that hospitals have to change. As the Welsh Government will eventually have to admit agree to the final proposal the First Minister said he couldn’t express a view, but invited a Llanelli’s AM, Lee Waters to give his.
Mr Waters told the audience at the Selwyn Samuel Centre that he agreed more services should be provided outside hospitals and praised the developments of new community hubs in Delta Lakes and Cross Hands, but said an area the size of Llanelli needed a proper hospital and criticised the health board for including an option of downgrading Prince Phillip Hospital which would make it very difficult to generate a rational discussion around options for change.
Carwyn Jones told the meeting “You have a very good advocate in Lee. He will make the case for the town. But he won’t just say ‘No, No, No’ he will come up with alternatives based on the evidence”.
A number of members of the public raised the Welsh Government’s plan to ban smacking with the First Minister. A group of activists from all parts of Wales urged him to reconsider the plan to remove the legal defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’ and allow parents to decide how to discipline their children.
Carwyn Jones stressed this had been in Welsh Labour’s manifesto and would be implemented sensitively. Parents would not be prosecuted for a light tap, he assured the campaigners, and authorities would be set sensible guidelines, but said Wales should set an example by saying children should be set strong boundaries but punishment should not be physical.
Harvard Rees from Llanelli Civic Society provoked a lengthy discussion about the state of the town centre with his plea for more funding to preserve heritage buildings in Llanelli. Carwyn Jones agreed that ‘a sense of place’ is vital and said Llanelli had a far better build heritage than his own town of Bridgend.
The First Minister also answered questions on military action in Syria and planning laws.