Protecting the Welsh NHS

Addressing the annual Welsh Conservative Party Conference in Llangollen, Darren Millar AM, Shadow Minister for Health, said:

(Check against delivery / Gwirio gyda’r cyflwyniad)



Good afternoon. It's fantastic to be here today in Llangollen.

So many delegates.

More MPs than any time in the last 30 years.

And my Assembly colleagues and candidates ready to secure, and deliver the real change our nation needs.

Now, as much as I love politics, I know our Conference is not the only big event for the people of Wales this weekend.

There's something else.

Of great sporting significance.

Another huge moment for our nation comes tomorrow.

Yes - Colwyn Bay Football Club's outing at Whitby Town is just vital...!

I’m serious!

No really, it's fantastic to have everyone gathered in North Wales today.

As having represented Clwyd West since 2007 ...

... I've witnessed a step change in political outlook across the whole of North Wales.

Increasing Conservative majorities in Clwyd West and Aberconwy last year.

An historic victory in the Vale of Clwyd with the fantastic Dr James Davies MP.

And building momentum elsewhere.

Yes, Conference, our proud region is sick of Welsh Labour.

And they know it!

We're tired of their incompetence.

Their lazy and complacent obsession with the Cardiff Bay Bubble.

Tired of their failure.

And it's their record on our nation's NHS, which really proves they’re simply not up to the job.

The Welsh health service has been starved of more than one billion pounds of funding in recent years.


It’s scandalous.

It’s no wonder that routinely missed targets have become the norm.

And that 1 in 7 of us here in Wales are now on an NHS waiting list.


Each and every week in the Senedd we hear the Socialists drag out the same old, tired lines about the Tories.

Clichés about the 1980s.

Well, Conference, I'll tell you one thing about the 1980s...

…we had a great Prime Minister!

...and Margaret Thatcher never, ever cut an NHS budget.

Shame on Carwyn Jones and Welsh Labour for cutting theirs!

As the opposition, it would have been easy for us to just shout from the sidelines over the last five years...

... but we haven’t.

Instead we Welsh Conservatives have rolled up our sleeves.

We’ve successfully fought for better funding.

We’ve championed local services and saved them from the axe.

And we’ve  articulated a new vision for the future of our cherished NHS.

The Labour Party have accused us of a war on Wales.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Our war is with Jeremy Corbyn, Carwyn Jones and the lackluster Labour party they lead!

And no matter how much they may balk…

… this politician for one, won’t ever declare a ceasefire!

Our hard-working and dedicated NHS staff are fed up with the underfunding…

fed up with the uncertainty over services…

… and fed up with Labour Ministers who bury their heads in the sand and fail to resolve problems.


We need real change.

And it’s only our party that can and will deliver it.

There’s no point in voting for the Nationalists or the Liberals.

They will just prop up Labour like they have in the past.

And no matter how many crocodile tears they may cry over the problems in our NHS…

…let us not forget that it was their AMs who supported Labour’s record-breaking NHS cuts!

Unlike them we'd protect the NHS budget - guaranteeing more investment each and every year.

We’d put an end to hospital closures …

…and guarantee no NHS re-organisation in the next Assembly term.

And we’d put patient choice at the heart of our Health Service …

… making more information available than ever before about the performance of local services to help people to…

…choose their GP…

…choose where they are referred to for tests…

…and choose the hospital they are referred to for treatment – even if that’s in England.

But we can’t stop there.

So much of the health of our nation hinges on our response to four things …

The four biggest killers in Wales.

Four cruel things – that have touched so many of us, our families, and friends.  

Cancer. Stroke. Heart Disease and Dementia.

We must tackle the nation’s biggest killers.

Welsh Conservatives will wage war on these cruel killers.

That’s why our manifesto will include clear, seven-point plans for each one of them.

For years, Welsh Conservatives have called for a dedicated fund to deal with the biggest killer of them all – cancer.

100,000 people signed a petition urging Labour to act.

We've read harrowing stories of cancer patients in Wales facing difficult, painful journeys to England to access the treatments and drugs they need.

Yet still nothing.

Friends, Wales needs to catch-up.

That’s why we will spend £100million over the next five years on a dedicated Cancer Patients Fund.

To improve access to modern cancer drugs and treatments, and help Wales hit a referral to diagnosis target of 28 days by 2020.

To provide a follow-up appointment guarantee for patients.

And establish a national Mobile Cancer Treatment Service; preventing long round-trip journeys for cancer patients across Wales.

And, Conference, I’m proud to announce that – as part of our seven-point plans – we will establish a dedicated stroke unit in every district general hospital in Wales.

Provide 24/7 access to clot-busting thrombolysis in all parts of Wales …

… and prioritise increasing funding for research into new treatments for stroke patients.

On heart disease,..

…I am pleased to announce that we will aspire to make Wales a Nation of First Responders embedding emergency first aid into the National Curriculum…

…we’ll ensure that defibrillators are available in all major public buildings, schools and shopping centres …

... reduce the referral to treatment waiting times target to 18 weeks for cardiac patients …

… and end the current postcode lottery in provision, to ensure consistent access to cardiac rehabilitation and specialist nurses across Wales…

But friends,

In many ways – dementia is the cruelest, killer of them all.

Yet research has shown only one in five in Wales with Alzheimer's feel they are getting adequate support.

That’s why we’d publish a National Dementia Plan for Wales.

And improve diagnosis rates.

…We’d introduce dementia awareness training into secondary schools and right across the public sector…

… and make millions in funding available to fund the development of new treatments and the search for a cure …

I have an ambition to make Wales the first Dementia Friendly Nation in the World.

And in Government we could make it happen!


Our nation also has an ageing population.

Too often, we hear other Parties speak of this as if our older people are a burden on society.

They are not.

Living longer is something we should celebrate.

We must recognise the immense contribution which older people across Wales make to their families, our communities and society.

And we need to ensure that our public services are equipped to provide people with the support they need.

I have been immensely proud to not only serve the people of  Clwyd West as their Assembly Member, or to serve our country as the Shadow Health Minister…

…but also to serve older people across Wales as their Shadow Minister too

We’ve already announced that a Welsh Conservative Government would legislate to protect the rights of older people in Wales.

And put an end to the ageist policies of the Welsh Labour Party which restrict access to employment support schemes.

But one of the biggest fears for older people is the cost of paying for care should they need it.

And the possibility of losing their life-savings or other assets as a result.

So I’m pleased to make this commitment today to older people across Wales.

If you need to pay for care then we will reward you for being responsible…

…by allowing you to keep more or pass it onto your loved ones.

A future Welsh Conservative Government would raise the capital limits from the current £24,000…

…and increase it to £100,000.

So anyone with less than £100,000 in capital will have all of their care funded in full…

…giving you the dignity, security and respect you deserve.


Over the next eight weeks, we Welsh Conservatives will continue to articulate a vision for the Health Service our country deserves.

For an NHS that is better resourced …

… more accountable …

… that breaks down the barriers with social care …

And which truly delivers better outcomes for patients.

We know that the NHS is the number one priority for the people of Wales – and it’s our number one priority too.

So, together. Let’s get out there.

Let’s fight for our local services…

…fight for patient choice…

…and fight to secure the real change our NHS needs.

Thank you.