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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 June, 2005, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
NHS 'doing better' under Gibbons
Health Minister Dr Brian Gibbons AM
Dr Calland said Dr Gibbons' NHS experience is a great help
The Welsh Assembly Government's understanding of the NHS is better under Health Minister Dr Brian Gibbons, according to a Welsh doctors' leader.

But British Medical Association (BMA) chairman in Wales, Dr Tony Calland, also told a BMA meeting that the service was "still in intensive care".

He praised the assembly government for progress in cutting waiting lists.

Dr Calland described Labour's minority assembly government status as a chance to put the NHS "back on track".

In a speech in Manchester to BMA representatives, he said ministers must work with doctors, nurses, paramedics and other staff "so that all are pulling in the same direction".

Dr Tony Calland
I think over the last few months there certainly has been an improvement in the situation on the ground
Tony Calland, BMA Wales

Speaking to BBC Wales, he said there had been a "a slow but very definite deterioration of services over the past few years" which appeared to have halted since Dr Gibbons was appointed.

Dr Gibbons, who was a GP in the Upper Afan Valley before becoming AM for Aberavon, took over as minister from Jane Hutt in January.

"I think the fact that Brian Gibbons has been working in the service at the front line for many years does give him a unique position to understand the complexities of the problems NHS Wales faces.

"He is also very well able to sort out when he is being told the absolute truth or a spun version of the truth from whichever side it may be coming from."

Dr Calland added: "I think over the last few months there certainly has been an improvement in the situation on the ground."

Consultants' contracts

The doctor said the assembly government has shown it has listened to the medical body with its 10-year NHS strategy, Designed for Life, by reconfiguring hospital services to make them more efficient, and separating non-emergency and emergency care.

But Dr Calland also criticised the assembly government for the "unprofessional and distinctly unhelpful manner in which (it) interfered with the implementation of the Welsh consultants' contract".

Members of the BMA's Welsh council in March backed a motion of no-confidence by consultants in the assembly government's handling of a long-running dispute concerning the contracts.

Dr Calland said the row "damaged the trust which was being built up between the two sides" and problems "have been created where problems previously did not exist".

Hospital faces 'painful' cutbacks
27 May 05 |  North East Wales

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