Guest post by Elin Walker Jones
Elin Walker Jones is the Plaid Cymru constituency candidate for Cardiff North.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, My Cardiff North.
I am standing on behalf of Plaid Cymru in Cardiff North because Wales deserves a better future. For 17 years, we have suffered a Welsh Labour Government, too scared to stand up to the Tories in Westminster, too complacent to provide a vision for Wales. Time for change!
We must make sure that people have homes but not at the expense of our beautiful and precious planet. We have to protect green spaces, everywhere. In this respect, we have to protect the green belt around the north area of Cardiff, and make sure that houses are built on brownfield sites. Under the Welsh Labour Government for example, land was sold to developers for a fraction of what it was worth – scandalous! In Lisvane, land was sold at its farming value of £1.8m instead of its housing value of “at least £39m”. What a waste of public money. Money that could have been used to create jobs, homes, schools, hospitals.
Many people in Cardiff North work for the NHS, and we are all, NHS service users from time to time. I’ve spent twenty five years working in the NHS so I know only too well about the challenges facing our NHS. Thanks to miraculous advances in technology and science, we can save many more lives than ever before, we can alleviate suffering and improve people’s quality of life. However the NHS needs proper funding to do this, and a commitment from a strong Welsh Government over the long term. Plaid Cymru is committed to improving services, cutting waiting times for cancer patients, recruiting 1000 doctors and 5000 nurses, and abolishing home care charges for the elderly and people with dementia. And Plaid Cymru’s policy to tax sugary drinks has now received support from Jamie Oliver and even the Chancellor, George Osbourne!
However health is not just about acute services, not just about good hospitals, and not even just about good social care. Our biggest challenge in the 21st century is how do we transform the NHS from a treatment service to a service that promotes wellness and prevents illness.
Obesity, for example, is a 21st century crisis. 58% adults in Wales are overweight or obese (Welsh Health Survey 2015). In Merthyr Tydfil 1 in 6 children are obese, whilst a mere few miles away, 1 in 12 children are obese in the Vale of Glamorgan. We know that obesity is a direct result of poor diets, linked to social deprivation, and that it leads to preventable illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases which in turn, cost the NHS thousands of pounds each year. It doesn’t have to be like this! A Plaid Cymru government will address the inequalities in the lifestyles of the Welsh population. We have so much to do and we have the will to make change. A responsible government has a practical and moral duty to ensure that good, sustainable food is available to its population. Practically speaking, poor diets lead to obesity which costs the government in the form of an expensive health service. Morally speaking, a strong government has a moral responsibility to ensure that the population of its country is healthy and productive (Morgan, 2015). We can ensure that our precious NHS funds are spent on preventing rather than treating disease. We must support a food industry that produces food that is local, of good quality and affordable, for the health of the population and also for the health of the planet.
We must ensure that public health is properly funded, and people have the opportunities and skills to live healthy lives so they don’t get ill. This means supporting opportunities for active lifestyles, access to healthy food and affordable homes. Public health is also about educating our youngsters about emotional health and good citizenship, ensuring that they can learn work skills and access jobs, for a sense of wellbeing and purpose in life. It means building supportive communities, so we can help each other.
Wales needs a strong government with a vision for a healthy, sustainable future. Plaid Cymru is committed to a well Wales, a well-educated Wales and a wealthier Wales.
Plaid Cymru is the change that Wales needs.
Let’s do something different on May 5th – vote for change, vote for Plaid Cymru.
By Elin Walker Jones
*Morgan, K. (2015). The Senedd Papers #3: Good Food for All.