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People from across Wales with an interest in the Welsh language are being asked to take action on its future in a national online conversation.
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The Strategy for Older People in Wales 2013-2023 »The 3rd phase focuses on ensuring that older people in Wales have the resources to deal with the challenges and opportunities they face.Learn more »
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Section highlightIndex of Planning Policy Guidance for Wales
Our land use planning policy guidance is set out in two core documents, "Planning Policy Wales" and "Minerals Planning Policy Wales".
Legislative programme 2012 - 2013 »
Addressing the Assembly in the Senedd today, the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, detailed the eight bills in the Welsh Government’s 5-year Legislative Programme that will be brought forward during the second year of the Welsh Assembly.Learn more »
Section highlightCommunity Infrastructure Levy
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Examples of infrastructure investment projects funded by the Welsh Government across Wales.Learn more »
Welsh Assembly Government response to the Office of Fair Trading`s report “The Control of Entry Regulations and Retail Pharmacy Services in the UK.”
As Health and Social Services Minister, I think it is important to set on record the conclusions of the Welsh Assembly Government in relation to the recent OFT Report, and to make it clear that I am not minded to accept the recommendation set out in that Report that the control of entry regulation for community pharmacies in Wales should be ended.
At a political level, there has been no appetite to adopt the recommendations, either within the Welsh Assembly Government or across the National Assembly as a whole. The issue has also provoked a strong response from community pharmacists and patients alike.
During the consultation process I have met with Community Pharmacy Wales, the contractor representative body in Wales and also representatives from the National Pharmaceutical Association and 'Boots the Chemists.' I have received a very large number of letters from pharmacists and other stakeholders expressing their views on the matter. Officials have also met with a range of stakeholders including Community Pharmacy Wales, the Welsh Executive of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Welsh Pharmaceutical Committee and patient and carer representatives. The authors of the report from the Office of Fair Trading gave a presentation to members of the Health and Social Services Committee.
The matter has also been discussed in the Cabinet.
In coming to a conclusion, I have also been concerned to weigh up the evidence that the OFT have presented and to consider the potential impact of their recommendations.
As to the evidence, I think that some important questions have been raised as to the robustness of the evidence upon which OFT have made their recommendations. There is a view that the report has made recommendations with consideration only to the consumer aspect without examining the impact on NHS services
From these considerations I have come to share the concern which many others have expressed concerning the impact which the report's recommendations could have on small pharmacies, particularly in socially disadvantaged and rural parts of Wales. I am also anxious that removal of the regulations could increase costs to the NHS in Wales resulting from the administration of alternative systems to protect access to pharmaceutical services under the NHS.
I have also been concerned at the potential impact of the Report's conclusions upon our own pharmacy strategy Remedies for Success which was published for consultation last September and which sets out my plan to ensure that Wales offers an attractive and challenging environment to enable the profession to fulfil its potential and deliver high quality pharmaceutical services to the population of Wales over the next ten years. As the strategy is put into practice, we will consider how the existing regulatory arrangements, which lie within the devolved responsibilities of the National Assembly, can be improved to take account of changing health policies.
The OFT Report has provided a useful stimulus to consideration of some significant issues in a policy area which is particularly important to us in Wales. I know, from my discussion with the profession, that no-one claims that everything within the present arrangements is completely perfect. There are areas in which improvements could and should be made. While I have made clear the Welsh Assembly Government's rejection of the recommendations contained in the OFT Report, I look forward to a continuing period of constructive engagement with all those who have an interest in these matters in Wales, in order to ensure that our own policy agenda is carried forward as powerfully as possible.