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Section highlightThe People’s NHS Part of an initiative to engage the public in creating a safe and sustainable health service for the future.
Spreading the word »Action on the ground to increase learning materials in the medium of Welsh.Learn more »
First Minister’s call for action on the Welsh language
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.
- Local Government Democracy Bill approved
- Minister welcomes report which could change shape and structure of education delivery in Wales for the better
- First Minister’s call for action on the Welsh language
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Welsh languageWelsh-language technology and digital media action plan
The action plan sets out our commitment to drive developments in the field of Welsh-language technology and digital media.Learn more »
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Section highlightAccess to information
The Welsh Government has followed the principles of openness in government for many years. Find out how you can make a freedom of information request or see requests that have already been made.
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 »
- A new vision for a National Youth Work Strategy
- The future delivery of education services in Wales
- Consultation on Draft Technical Advice Note (TAN) 23 Economic Development
- Draft industrial and commercial sector plan
- Waste Prevention Programme
- Building Control system and Approved Document supporting regulation 7
Featured consultation »Improving access to substance misuse treatment for veterans
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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
Local authorities can charge a Community Infrastructure Levy on new developments to support the infrastructure needed.
Infrastructure Investment Case Studies »
Examples of infrastructure investment projects funded by the Welsh Government across Wales.Learn more »
Oral - Update on Swine Flu
This statement updates Members about developments in respect of the influenza A(H1N1) swine flu outbreak during the summer and outlines our future plans. The clinical consultation rate for influenza in Wales fell steadily throughout the summer, from a peak of over 4,400 at the end of July to 459 during the week ending 16 September. This is still higher than usual for this time of year; however, levels are below the range normally seen in the winter.
A total of 123 laboratory-confirmed cases of swine flu have been reported by National Public Health Service for
Although the first wave of the swine flu has peaked, a second wave is anticipated this winter, but its timing is uncertain. The national health service and other key services across
In mid July, England decided to launch the national pandemic flu service, because of the significant pressure faced by GPs and accident and emergency services in England. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland decided not to join the NPFS; instead, we strengthened primary care services to ensure that antiviral treatment was targeted at those most likely to benefit from it. I firmly believe that this measured approach was the right one to adopt in the particular circumstances that we faced in Wales.
Members will be aware that the planning assumptions for swine flu have recently been revised. Following careful analysis of the latest scientific evidence on the H1N1 virus, and new data becoming available from the UK and other countries across the world, estimates for the worst-case scenario in the current pandemic have been lowered.
The main changes in the planning assumptions are: a reduction of the rate of hospitalisation, from 2 per cent to 1 per cent; a reduction in the projections of excess deaths from 0.35 per cent to 0.1 per cent; and that a substantial peak cannot now occur until October at the earliest. We still expect that up to one in three of the population may become ill over the course of the pandemic. It is important to stress that these are planning assumptions, based on a reasonable worst-case scenario; they are not a prediction of what we expect to see. This new information will be used to help the NHS, local planners and businesses to prepare. The planning assumptions will be kept under constant review as we learn more about this pandemic. Scientists will be looking particularly closely at how seasonal flu and swine flu interact as we move into the traditional flu season.
During the peak weeks of a pandemic there is the potential for a shortfall in the number of critical care beds that may be needed. Two weeks ago, we announced plans to double critical-care-bed capacity if required during the swine flu pandemic. I wrote to Members earlier today setting out the details of the critical care strategy for Wales.
Officials and Dr George Findlay, the Wales representative for critical care, are working closely with UK-wide specialist advisory groups. The NHS in
Turning to vaccines, two pandemic influenza vaccines are currently under trial. Vaccinations will not begin until licenses have been obtained, in accordance with European regulatory requirements. Once this has occurred, vaccination of the agreed priority groups will begin. The vaccine manufacturers anticipate that licenses will be granted in October, with supplies to the NHS in the four countries beginning shortly after that.
Safety data will continue to be collected once the vaccine is in use. In the UK, post-licensing monitoring of both effectiveness and safety, including the side effects of all vaccines, is well established. This will be undertaken by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, whose reporting system is being strengthened specifically to monitor swine flu vaccines.
The priority groups for immunisation, as recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, and as endorsed by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, are: people aged over six months—it seems strange to say 'people’ when mentioning six months of age—and under 65 years who are in the current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups; all pregnant women, subject to licensing considerations; household contacts of people with compromised immune systems, for example people in regular close contact with patients undergoing treatment for cancer, and so on; and people aged 65 and over in the current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups. Vaccination of front-line health and social care workers will begin at the same time as the at-risk groups. Protecting these people will help the workforce to remain resilient and able to treat sick patients. The vaccination programme will be entirely voluntary—there are no plans to introduce compulsory vaccination as part of the UK’s pandemic preparations.
Last week, I announced that GPs will administer the vaccination programme for these priority groups. GPs are used to delivering large-scale vaccination programmes that target patients at highest risk. This agreement means that GPs and their teams will have the resources that they need to take on the additional workload and run the vaccination programme smoothly and efficiently. The collection date for the data on childhood immunisations will be delayed by six weeks to mid-February to allow practices time to carry out the swine flu vaccination programme.
It is vital to continue to stress the importance of key public health messages, such as good hand hygiene, in our fight against swine flu. To this end, a further advertising campaign was undertaken in Wales on 12 August. Advertisements in the regional press were supported by a radio broadcast campaign, while a fact sheet will provide further information on how to recognise the symptoms and reduce the spread of the virus. The fact sheet is also available on the Assembly Government’s website, in twelve languages.
Further waves of advertising will be launched through the autumn. In addition to the information leaflet and publicity campaign, information is available to members of the public on the Welsh Assembly Government and National Public Health Service websites. NHS Direct and the swine flu information line also provide help and information. I will continue to provide regular reports to Members, and updates will continue to be published on the Welsh Assembly Government’s website.