NEIL HAMILTON, MS for Mid & West Wales, has called on the First Minister to ease lockdown restrictions to help the economy.

Speaking in Senedd virtual plenary, Mr Hamilton,,said he was concerned for the future of the NHS in Wales if the lockdown continued.

“The cost of the current lockdown will be felt not just in money terms but also in our health. We are missing 2,300 cancers a week because of a reduction in GP referrals, according to Cancer Research UK.  Thousands of much-needed hip and knee replacements have been cancelled.  Many serious illnesses are not being dealt as medics and beds are diverted due to COVID-19.

”It is clear we need to spend a lot more money on health, but that will be possible only if we have a successful and growing economy.

“The Office for Budget Responsibility has estimated the cost of the lockdown at anything from£500 billion to £1 trillion. To put that into perspective, the total cost of the NHS this year is only £160 billion.  With a smaller economy, we will not be able to afford this.  Unless we get the nation back to work, trying to insulate people from catching corona will produce many more deaths from other illnesses as well as untold pain and discomfort from other untreated conditions.

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First Minister, Mark Drakeford, told me that he agreed the economy needed to be opened up but he would take only the most careful and cautious steps forward out of lockdown because of the risk.

But I say that it’s not clear from his timid approach what the trade-off is between dealing with corona and everything else the NHS needs to do.  Unless we get the economy moving again, we may be sacrificing more people in future than we are saving now.

“We all have to help by being sensible – vigorous washing and avoiding unnecessary contact.  The most vulnerable will have to lock down for longer.  This is what the Swedish government has done and their incidence of corona is only two-thirds of ours.  Without underestimating the dreadful impact of the Coronavirus, it is vitally important that restrictions are relaxed as quickly as possible so the economy of Wales can get moving ahead again.”


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