|Janet Finch-Saunders AM||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|Leanne Wood AM|
|Mike Hedges AM|
|Neil McEvoy AM|
|Kath Thomas||Dirprwy Glerc|
|Samiwel Davies||Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol|
|1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datganiadau o fuddiant||1. Introduction, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest|
|2. Deisebau newydd||2. New petitions|
|3. Y wybodaeth ddiweddaraf am ddeisebau blaenorol||3. Updates to previous petitions|
|4. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o'r cyfarfod||4. Motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the meeting|
Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.
The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.
Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:00.
The meeting began at 09:00.
Good morning. Bore da. Welcome, everyone, to the meeting. There is no need to turn off mobile phones or other electronic devices, but do please ensure that any devices are in silent mode. No apologies have been received.
Our first new petition was submitted by Chris Evans, having collected 173 signatures. The text is:
'It has recently come to light that Natural Resources Wales have been issuing licences to allow the killing of species that appear on the RSPB's Red and Amber lists in Wales for sometimes rather spurious reasons such as "protecting cattle feed" and "air safety".'
An initial response to the petition was received from the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs on 30 April. A research briefing on the petition and related issues has been provided. The petitioner was informed that the petition would be discussed but has not provided further comments. How would you like to take this forward?
Okay. Petition: 'Children's used uniform scheme'. This was submitted by Rachael Mackay, Topaz class, Monnow Primary School, having collected 54 signatures. They would
'like to see a used school uniform scheme up and running in every city in Wales. The scheme should provide uniforms, shoes and trainers for all ages. This would make sure that all children have access to affordable uniforms. Families that receive free school meals should take priority.'
We received a response on 16 April from the Minister. We've had a research briefing on it. The petitioner has also provided further comment. Pages 49 to 56.
I think we could write to the Children's Commissioner for Wales, or Children in Wales, actually, and see what they think about it.
We could also ask local authorities what is happening in their areas because I know that in Swansea, there are a lot of schools that actually carry this out; I also know there's a voluntary organisation in the Blaenymaes area that does it. So, I think that we need to be careful we don't end up supporting something and pushing something forward that will do more harm than good. We need to find out how much is actually being done at the moment, because lots of places are doing it.
Okay. So, the proposal is, what, to write to every local authority?
Just write to local authorities, asking them what's happening about it.
Okay. We can write directly to local authorities—
—or do you want to seek the view of the WLGA?
I know what happens in Swansea—specifically Swansea East—and there are lots of schools that recycle school uniforms; lots of voluntary organisations, where the school doesn't, that do it themselves. Now, we wouldn't want to interfere with that because it's working well. So, we need to find out is that the norm or is that just fortunate because Swansea East is an enlightened area.
Shall we write to the WLGA in the first instance and see what that response contains?
Yes. We can write to Children in Wales as well, because they are producing some guides on behalf of the Welsh Government about the affordability of school uniforms. So, this could directly inform what they come up with.
Okay. The next one is a petition submitted by Jonathan Burton, having collected 91 signatures, 'Shut the Door on Wasted Energy' and this is
'to encourage all supermarkets and retailers to have doors on all their fridges and freezers, and so reduce our national carbon footprint, electricity consumption and pave a way for a greener Wales.'
Yes. The background: we received a response from the Minister for Economy and Transport on 26 April. A research briefing on the petition and related issues has been provided, and the petitioner has also provided further comments. How would you like to take this forward?
We could write to the Welsh Retail Consortium. We could also try the big supermarkets as well.
But my experience of supermarket shopping, especially as I'm the person responsible for going to the freezers, is the freezers always have those door-type things or the roof-type things on them that you have to open and close, fridges less so. So, I think that it'd be nice to find out from the big supermarkets as well as the Welsh Retail Consortium.
I think that the big ones do, and maybe the smaller ones don't, because I'm thinking of places where they're just open freezers.
Okay, we can draw up a list of major food retailers.
Well, there's the big five, isn't there? Or the big six now, because they've got the two German ones.
Moving on, 'Add Mental Health Education to the mandatory teaching curriculum for all schools in Wales' has collected 1,947 signatures and was submitted by Annie Harris.
'When working for Mental—The Podcast to Destigmatise Mental Health, I am continually concerned by the lack of education in schools around mental health. With 1 in 4 of us experiencing mental illness every year according to the charity Mind, this seems to be a real and significant gap in our education system.'
We've had a response to the petition from the Minister on 18 April. For your ease, this is page 69. A research briefing on the petition and related issues has been provided, and the petitioners have also provided further comments. So, how would you like to take this forward?
Well, we could send the petitioners' additional view to the Minister. We could also ask the Minister exactly what is currently in the personal and social education curriculum and how the Minister sees that developing, because we have lots of people writing to us, 'This should be in the curriculum' and 'Something else should be in the curriculum.' But, really, the PSE area should be covering this, so perhaps we could ask the Minister how this fits into the PSE curriculum.
The Minister's letter is quite good in that it does say:
'To ensure greater support for mental health in schools the Welsh Government announced in September 2017, £1.4million jointly from the health and education budgets to pilot Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in-reach into schools across six local authority areas (three health boards), spanning two academic years until summer 2020. Pending the outcome of evaluation we will consider the merits, or otherwise, of rolling out the programme more widely across Wales, in either its existing or an amended form.'
Looking at it from a slightly different angle, I wonder what is covered in teacher training about mental health issues. Maybe this is going too wide, but I wonder if it's worth writing to a university to actually ask what the contents of their training courses are, because when I was doing my teacher training, we did additional learning needs, which was dyslexia and all the different things like that, but I don't actually recall doing anything about mental health issues—
You pick it up as you go along, really, but I think that would be interesting to know.
The Children, Young People and Education Committee, as well, is scrutinising the mental health of children and young people and the new curriculum on an ongoing basis, so we could also write to them to make them aware of this petition. Yes?
The next one is 'Close the Gap for deaf pupils in Wales', and this was submitted by the National Deaf Children's Society and was first considered in May 2013. So, we've had this petition with us now for six years. They call upon the National Assembly for Wales
'to urge the Welsh Government to develop a national strategy to Close the Gap in educational attainment between deaf pupils and their peers.'
They were actually very positive about the work we've done on this committee. They welcome the movement that has been made in the area of the petition since it was first submitted. They note that an attainment gap still exists but they've outlined progress made against the four aspects of the petition, including a number of detailed recommendations that they believe the Welsh Government should take forward. Some of these are similar to the committee’s own recommendations made in its report, if you recall—the BSL access to education one.
How would you like to take this forward? You could provide the petitioners’ further evidence to the Minister for Education, ask her to work with the petitioners to take this forward, and then bring this petition to an end. Like I say, it's something that this committee has succeeded in doing, raising the profile of this.
Yes. I was just wondering where they are on the pledges, though, in terms of—
Delivery, yes. But then maybe that's a petition in the future, possibly.
Yes, in relation to the recommendations that this committee made for the other petition about British Sign Language, the Government did respond to those four recommendations, and committed to doing some work. I think it's probably early days; that report was published late last year and debated earlier this year, so it might be something that the committee would want to revisit towards the end of this Assembly—to go back and look at previous recommendations it's made and where the Government has taken them.
But I think, in relation to this petition, it seems we may have gone as far as the committee can.
The next one—we're on 3.2—is 'To Amend the School Admissions Code Relating to Summer-Born Children'. We've had this since September 2018, having collected 149 signatures, calling on the National Assembly for Wales
'to urge the Welsh Government to consider amending the School Admissions Code where it relates to admission outside the normal age group, in respect of summerborn children'.
So, that's 1 April to 31 August.
We last considered this on 19 March. We agreed to write again to seek the outstanding responses from local authorities. We've only two, now, that haven't responded, haven't we?
Yes. It's also come to the clerking team’s attention that the Welsh Government has also circulated a survey to collect very similar information. The petitioners have provided additional comments in relation to the further responses. How would you like to take this forward?
I think we need to write to the Minister to see what the findings are.
We could write to the Minister to ask the details of any findings from her engagement work, and we could also ask for any emerging conclusions arising from the review of the school admissions code, and we could ask when a public consultation on the school admissions code will commence.
Yes. It's just so hit and miss, this. Which authorities didn't respond, out of interest?
I think the two remaining authorities are Flintshire and Powys.
Yes. Okay, we'll write to the Minister.
So, the next one is: 'Roundabout for the A477/ A4075 Junction', calling on the National Assembly for Wales
'to urge the Welsh Government to replace the Fingerpost Junction on the A477/A4075 with a roundabout - The current road configuration has not resolved the problems on this dangerous stretch of road'.
We considered this last on 5 March, and agreed to write to the Minister for Economy and Transport to seek a response to the information and suggestions provided by Pembrokeshire County Council, to ask for an update on further assessments made in relation to the road design and safety at the junction, and to request a copy of the road safety audit 36-month review. We received a response on 18 April. The petitioners were informed that the petition would be discussed, but have not provided further comment.
The Minister states that the 36-month road safety audit is still under way due to a delay in obtaining collision data. The comments provided by Pembrokeshire County Council will be considered as part of this work. The Minister also confirms that a copy of the 36-month audit will be provided to the committee once it is complete. So, what actions would you like to take?
Well, nothing's going to happen until the 36-months audit has been completed. So, the best thing we can do is wait for that and then decide where to go from there. Because, if we write to the Minister now, all the Minister's going to do is write back and say, 'Wait until we carry out the 36- months audit'.
We're clear on that one.
3.4, 'Support the M4 Relief Road Black Route', and that's page 115. One thousand four hundred and 82 signatures.
And we're considering 'Protect the Gwent Levels and stop the proposed M4 motorway'.
Well, we're due to have a decision in the first week of June. I know it has been moved and moved and moved and moved, but we are expecting that decision. So, I don't think we can do anything on this until we've had that. But, if we don't get the decision in the beginning of June as we've been promised, I think we should look at these again then. So, perhaps we can defer them to the next meeting.
Yes, the committee's next meeting on 11 June.
Yes, I know. We've been promised a lot of things a few times on this, haven't we?
So, we've got a proposal there to defer. Yes? Are all Members in support?
3.6, 'Remove time restrictions on the layby to the east of Crickhowell', page 128.
'We call on the Welsh Government to remove the time restriction on the layby to the east of Crickhowell. At present it has a time limit of one hour. It is the only such layby with this restriction on the A40 in Wales. There is rarely a car there as to go into town for a cup of tea would exceed the time limit.'
We last considered this in December, and we wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport to ask if he will liaise further with Powys County Council around the issues around parking in the lay-by, and whether any consideration has been given to extending the time limit to two or three hours to help alleviate the concerns raised. A response for the Minister has been received. The petitioners were informed that the petition would be discussed, but have not provided further comments. What would you like to do?
Is it possible for petitioners to re-submit an Assembly petition to a local authority, or does the wording need to be changed?
'I don't know' is the straightforward answer to that, in that I don't think there are many local authorities in Wales with an official petitions process, so—
Yes. So, there would be nothing to stop, I think—.
I wonder, then, if that's the case, we could suggest that this petition is sent to the local authority, because that's where the responsibility for this lies.
We have previously written to Powys County Council, I believe. There's a distinction here between parking generally in Crickhowell, which is a local authority responsibility. This particular lay-by is on the A40 trunk road, so that's why the petition is admissible for the Assembly, because that is managed on behalf of the Welsh Government. But the Welsh Government's view is that it's not appropriate to use a lay-by on a dual carriageway for long-term parking, or for traders to use it, and, therefore, the wider issues about parking the Minister is referring to Powys County Council.
So, even though the county council are responsible for issues relating to Crickhowell, this is outside Crickhowell, is it, so it doesn't count as their responsibility?
Yes, and on a trunk road. So, the Welsh Government manages the trunk road.
Two quick comments on this. The first is one is: I'm not sure that parking in a lay-by on a trunk road is something you should do in order to go into a town in order to visit a cafe. And I think that moving it to two hours—. Is actually what people are looking for free parking on the outskirts of Crickhowell, which they can use and then travel in? But I think it's got to be dealt with as part of Crickhowell parking. And, if you made it unlimited, I'm sure people would park there all day, every day, as they go into work.
I've just had a note passed to me to say that we have never written to Powys County Council on this issue, so it may be an option that the committee want to take—to write at this point and close the petition at that stage.
Well, perhaps what we could do is write to the council, outline this issue and the number of people who've petitioned, and ask them, in the light of it being inappropriate to use a lay-by on a trunk road as a long-term parking solution, are there are other parking solutions in the nearby area that they could look at to enable people to do what they need to do without using a lay-by as a car park.
Okay. And would you like to close the petition at the time you write, or wait for a response, a reply?
3.7, and this is page 130—'No to any Closure of Junction 41'. This was submitted by Carol Clement-Williams, and was first considered on 15 January this year, having collected 473 signatures. And it:
'Calls on the Welsh Government to reject any proposal to close junction 41 of the M4.'
We last considered this on 15 January, agreeing to write to the Minister for Economy and Transport to ask what assessment has been made of the potential impact of increased vehicle emissions along local roads if a partial or full closure of junction 41 is implemented and whether relevant data on emissions was collected as part of the previous trial closure. A response was received from the Minister on 3 May. The petitioner has also provided further comments.
There is no current proposal to close junction 41 of the M4, though the Welsh Government has not ruled it out. Therefore, the committee could agree to keep a watching brief on this matter and seek a further update in six months' time.
Housing and Local Government—'Save our Countryside—Revise TAN 1', page 133. This was submitted by Councillor Mike Priestley, and was first considered in November 2017, having collected 706 signatures. The committee last considered the petition on 19 March. We agreed to write to the Minister for Housing and Local Government to request an update on the review of the delivery of housing through the planning system, an indication of timescales for the completion of the review, and confirmation that paragraph 6.2 of TAN 1 will remain disapplied during that time, and whether to consider holding an evidence session with the Minister on several planning-related petitions at a future meeting.
A response was received from the Minister on 29 April, and we've had further comment from the petitioner.
Can we ask the Minister to come in? We've got several planning issues, and we can raise them all in one go. It worked really well on the environment and rural affairs. Otherwise, all we do is keep on sending each other letters back and forth. So, at least we can have a discussion about it with the Minister, and then we can decide what we want to do following that.
Health and social services—3.9, 'Recognition of Parental Alienation'. This was submitted by Families Need Fathers/Both Parents Matter Cymru, was first considered in May 2017, and it has collected 2,058 signatures. It calls upon the Welsh Assembly
'to persuade the Welsh Government to protect children and young people in Wales by formally recognising "Parental Alienation" as a form of emotional abuse of children. We further call upon the Welsh Government to take specific actions to reduce the impact of Parental Alienation on children and their families.'
So, this has been here before. We've considered it—November 2018. We agreed to seek the views of the petitioner on the information received from CAFCASS Cymru, to write back to CAFCASS Cymru to request that a copy of the practice guidance is provided to the committee when it is in its final form, and to outline the training and development opportunities that have been provided to CAFCASS Cymru practitioners, which cover alienating behaviours at that time. An update was received from CAFCASS on 18 April, and the petitioners have also provided further comments. How would you like to take this forward?
Chair, I think it would be useful for us to see a copy of the practice guidance, but I also think it's worth us considering this petition in the light of the news that was reported on 15 May, when there was a call for an inquiry into abusive parents' access to children through the family court system. The report said that at least four children have been killed by a parent in the past five years after a family court has granted access. I do have some sympathy with some of the arguments in this, but the danger is that it could tip over into a problem, as I've just described with this latest information, where 120 MPs have written to the Government asking for an inquiry into how family courts in England and Wales treat victims of domestic violence. So, I think, if we could look at the thing in the round, that would be very helpful.
Will you declare an interest, Leanne, with your past association with Women's Aid? I'm declaring an interest here, as a former service user of Both Parents Matter, and also the fact that I used to employ the person who runs the organisation. I just wondered whether Leanne wanted to do the same thing.
Whether you want to declare your interest in terms of your association with Women's Aid groups.
I used to work for Women's Aid a long time ago, but I have no current interest and no interest to declare, Chair.
I think what we have here, really, is, I'd say, a very one-sided part of the story, because with what Leanne has said there, she failed to mention cases where parents—or generally fathers, in this case—have not been given access to children, and that has resulted in deaths as well, and murders perpetrated by mothers. If you look at the latest figures, they've looked at 332 murders of children, and the safest person, statistically, for a child to be with, is its natural father. The problem that we have here with the issue of parental alienation is that it's one of the greatest crimes of modern times. It's a form of child abuse, as we heard in evidence. It's a form of domestic abuse, and as I said previously, even though I've mentioned the issue of where a child is safer statistically, I think we need to move away from the gendering of this. I spoke in London, recently, at a rally about parental alienation—
I can honestly say, certainly during this committee here today, I haven't seen any gender issues being raised, so really, in order to move this forward, a proposal has been suggested that the committee could accept the offer of a copy of the practice guidance produced by CAFCASS Cymru when it is published, and then we can consider the petition again.
In response to Leanne, what I would like to say is that the denial of contact of a loving and good parent is a form of domestic abuse in itself, and I think that has to be recognised.
I just think that we should wait to see what CAFCASS have to say. I mean, it's not an issue I know much about. And if we're all declaring interests, I declare an interest as a father who's still living with the mother of a child who's no longer a child. But I'm sure, statistically, the safest people for children to be with are grandparents. I'm not sure that we're really in that—. What we want to do is find out what CAFCASS have got to say, and I'm of the belief that they know far more about it than I do.
I would agree with that, but I would also like us to be aware that CAFCASS have recently been criticised for not protecting children within the family court system, and I'd like to make sure that we take a balanced approach to all of this.
The whole point of this petition is that CAFCASS and other organisations are simply not protecting children from the deep trauma and emotional abuse they go through by being denied contact with a parent. There are huge issues later on in life for children who go through this.
We're moving on to the next item. 3.10: 'We call for the Welsh Government to encourage trusts to implement the NICE guidelines for Borderline Personality Disorder or justify why they do not do so'. This petition was submitted by Keir Harding and was first considered in May 2018, having collected 137 signatures.
We last considered this on 5 March, agreeing to write to the Minister for Health and Social Services to request an update on the development of psychological therapy services, including the funding awarded to health boards, since his previous letter in June 2018. Quite a few points for discussion. The Government has provided an additional £5.5 million a year of recurrent funding to support its commitment to improve access to psychological therapies. There's also an implementation plan by the national psychological therapies management committee to assist health boards to assess their current position and to make improvements locally. The Government is currently developing a 'Together for Mental Health' delivery plan for 2019-22, which will be subject to consultation in the spring. The Minister states that
'continuing to improve access to psychological therapies will be a priority area in the plan'.
The petitioner urges the committee to ensure that ignoring the NICE guidelines for people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder is not an option for trusts. So, how would you like to take this forward?
Can I say something on this? First of all, additional, extra money going into a service doesn't necessarily mean good outputs or good outcomes. So, I'd like to know more about—. I mean, they talk about access to psychological therapies, but the question is the number of therapists and the number of therapeutic hours available to patients in every part of the country and in every community. That's the thing we need to really understand. It's clear that so many people are being let down. The number—that one in 10 people with this diagnosis will die by suicide—is horrific, and we know that a lot of those people will be victims of some form of abuse. Generally, that group of people are let down badly, whether that's as children or as adults. I would like us to dig a little bit deeper into the Government's provision on this and to ensure that there is consistency across local health boards as well, and not for us to just be content that because X amount of millions is going into a service, we're actually seeing outcomes for the people who are affected by this.
Okay. In terms of taking that forward, do you want to get those answers from the Minister?
So, to ask for further details of how that additional funding would be spent and what's in the implementation plan.
Yes, and for us to have an understanding as to how people are treated as well, and what the cost of the per-person treatment is and how successful treatment is. It would be useful to know that as well. Because you can put people through groups, and it might not actually have any effect, and you're wasting money then, aren't you?
3.11: 'Specialist prosthetics for child amputees'. It was submitted by Rebecca Roberts and was first considered in June 2018, having collected 116 signatures. There's quite bit of background on this. We last considered it in 2018, agreeing to write back to WHSSC to ask for further details of the review of the prosthetic and amputee rehabilitation services spec, including the process, timescales and a list of the stakeholders it intends to consult. Also to seek a full reasoning behind the limitations within the current prosthetic and amputee rehabilitation services specification for recreational lower limbs. And also to write to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services to ask for consideration to be given by the Welsh Government to making specific funding available for children to be able to access specialised sports prostheses, and what barriers there are to using 3D printing for the production of prostheses.
A response was received from the Minister on 23 January. Following a number of chases, a response was received from the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee—it's disappointing that you had to chase many times—and the petitioner has also provided further comments. In light of the positive indications by the Minister and the WHSSC about possible progress in this area, we could look to seek another update from the Minister.
I'd like to see the business case when that's prepared. Are we able to see that? I know it's a Welsh Government business case. Could we ask them if we could have a copy of that? That would be useful.
We can certainly ask, yes.
Thank you. I just think we should start from a position that every child who can make use of this should have one. It's not a sports thing, as was pointed out by the petitioner; every child needs this to play. Without basic play, they're not developing socially, and of course they're potentially storing up other health problems, and we all know about the diabetes and obesity problems that we face. So, this should be a standard piece of kit for every child who has to face a leg amputation. We should, I think, say that to the Minister and ask them for that business plan, even if they can't do it in a year or two years, over a period of time, to demonstrate to us how the Government is going to make sure that they receive that. It's like a wheelchair was back in the past. I think this is really, really important.
Can I make two very quick points? There's a firm in my constituency that makes 3D printed prosthetics for animals, but it is now looking to develop that for children. If they can get it right and it can work for children, then it'll work. If you produce a prosthetic for a child at seven, by the time they're eight, they'll obviously need a new one. But, if they can get the 3D printing absolutely right for it, then it shouldn't cost very much to do it. They've done it for a number of animals and it's worked. They're now starting to involve health boards in England and Wales for using it for children.
I think we perhaps could also ask the Minister about the technological changes and the development of 3D printing, because if they or another company get this right it'll be very easy. Every time the child grows, you just print out another prosthetic limb. I think that will be really important, because the danger always is that it either is extendable with a screw as they grow or they end up having a limp because they've outgrown their prosthetic. So, if we can get 3D printing to do this, then I would think that we should be looking at that. I think we need to ask the Minister and the technical people what work is being done to try and use 3D printing to deal with what is a serious problem for those who need it.
I'm staggered, really, reading the Minister's response—blasé at best. It just says that a wide range of prosthetic equipment is provided by the NHS in Wales but specialist sports prosthetics for children are not currently funded. As Leanne said, it's not just sport, it's inclusion in life. What we have in this reply is a complete lack of urgency and, once again in terms of health, Wales being second world. If you live in England, you get better treatment. It's just not acceptable. I'd like a strong letter to the Minister asking for the business case and maybe asking for a bit of urgency on the matter as well.
I think it might be worth noting that, because of the delays in getting a response from the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee, the Minister's letter that's published today and in the pack is several months older. It appears, from the committee's response, that in the intervening period, between January and May, discussions have taken place between the bodies and it's actually the Welsh Government's chief therapies adviser who's asked for a business case to be produced that they can put to the Minister. So, what you might be seeing here is a slightly out-of-date response from the Welsh Government and things have moved on since.
A friend of mine has just moved to England, mainly for medical reasons, because of the English NHS catering for the needs that are not catered for in Wales at the minute. It's just another example.
Okay. We will write back to the Minister, and we will ask whether the committee could see a copy of that business case when it is ready and ask for updates in this area, including, potentially, about research around 3D printing. I didn't put it in the full briefing for Members, but one thing that the petitioner said in her response was that she's aware of 3D printing being used or being developed for upper limbs, but not currently for lower limbs—potentially to do with limitations.
Okay, thank you. Item 3.12: 'All men in Wales should have access through the NHS to the best possible diagnostic tests for prostate cancer'. This is page 153. The petition was submitted by Stuart Davies and was first considered in December 2018, having collected 6,345 signatures. How would you like to take this forward?
Well, there's an inconsistency here, isn't there, in terms of what's available to patients depending on where you live? So, it's a postcode lottery, which we shouldn't accept, really.
Yes, it's a huge issue. I think 11,600 people died from prostate cancer last year—or 2016, I'm sorry—and there's a big gap here in service.
Yes, and the Wales urology board, to ensure that the final National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guideline is implemented? And also we could ask for consideration to be given to the interim solution proposed by the petitioner, if Members feel this would be appropriate.
Okay. Item 3.13: this petition was submitted by Siobhan Corria on behalf of Michelle Christopher, and was first considered on 19 March, having collected 238 signatures—'Sepsis Public Awareness Campaign—Wales'. It's shocking, isn't it, that 44,000 people lose their lives to sepsis every year? They're calling on the Welsh Government to undertake a sepsis public awareness campaign. We've written to the Minister for Health and Social Services. We've had responses back. We've written to Public Health Wales to ask for details of their ongoing work in relation to sepsis.
The Minister states that Wales is seen as leading the way in the UK in making sepsis recognition and treatment a top priority. His letter outlines activities being carried out by the Government and the NHS, including through 1000 Lives Plus. However, he also states that national awareness campaigns are complex and evidence of effectiveness is difficult to demonstrate. Public Health Wales provide a detailed outline of the actions being taken within the NHS and care settings, including through the rapid response to acute illness learning set—RRAILS. This supports health and care settings to improve their practice and help identify and treat patients. In relation to a public awareness campaign, they provide an extract from evidence provided to the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee that states that it is questionable whether the public awareness campaigns that have been run in England and Scotland have produced any evidence for improvement.
The petitioners reiterate their call for a public awareness campaign, which would complement the work done with health professionals. They argue that the work outlined by the Government and PHW would not reach members of the public who risk waiting for too long before seeking treatment. Now, currently, the health committee is considering conducting an inquiry into sepsis. This would be likely to commence in the autumn, but has not been publicly announced as yet. So, how would you like to take this forward?
I think we ought to give the committee the opportunity to look at it first because they'll be able to have a far more in-depth investigation into it than we would be able to. The other thing, and I can't remember whether it was for this petition or people coming here regarding sepsis, but their major concern was the failure of GPs to identify it. They go in showing the signs and GPs don't identify it. I think, more than the general public trying to self-diagnose, which I think is often dangerous, it's actually making sure GPs are fully aware of the symptoms so they can take appropriate and speedy action. That really is something I would like to ask the Minister about.
It's not just GPs, though, is it? It's all front-line health professionals, so paramedics, ambulance staff, accident and emergency staff, nurses—a range of people need to have that level of understanding.
Yes. The first person who sees the person should realise that this may be a case of sepsis, rather than waiting until it becomes serious and people could lose either limbs or their lives.
I would agree with that, but I also think that there is a very low level of public awareness in terms of just the basic symptoms. So, how do you know to go to the GP or the A&E in the first place? So, there does need to be something in terms of letting people know—if you have these symptoms, check them out—like there was a meningitis campaign targeted at students a decade or so ago. But I still think that we need to take cognisance of the fact that there has not been evidence to show—. I don't know what kind of public awareness campaigns were run in England and Scotland, but I guess that's something that the health committee inquiry would look at in further depth anyway—
I just wanted to say, I think the campaigners are doing an excellent job of this. This was completely off my radar before coming to this committee, and I would support a public awareness campaign and support writing to the committee.
Okay. And this one: 3.14—I've previously declared an interest because I used to be involved in the exotic pet trade. So, this petition was submitted by David Sedley and was first considered in March 2017, having collected 222 signatures. We last considered it on 12 February. She considers that the divergence between licensing and the regulatory regime in Wales and England poses risks to animal welfare in Wales, particularly in relation to the exotic pet trade. She intends to consider the merits of adopting some or all of the various policy changes made by the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018. A response from the Minister was dated 12 March, for some reason, but has only recently been received, and the petitioner has also provided further comment. Page 179. How would you like to go forward with this?
I'd like to ask the Minister when she is likely to take action, because, considering it, I would brand certain animals and people keeping them as inappropriate. But we're not going to get the Minister to do that, unfortunately.
But at least can we find out when we're going to have a decision made? Personally, I don't think people should keep wild cats and I don't think people should keep a whole range of other animals that are inappropriate to be kept in a domestic setting, including snakes, but that's something that is not necessarily a viewpoint held by everybody. Can we just ask the Minister when she is going to make this decision she's talked about making in March?
'Ban plastic straws (when drinking milk) in our schools'—submitted by Ysgol y Wern and was first considered in July last year, having collected 1,034 signatures. We spoke about this on 19 March and agreed to write to the Minister for Finance to seek an update on the outcome of the recent pilot exercise in Pembrokeshire. A response was received from the Minister for Finance on 23 April. Do you feel there's any further action we can take on this petition at the time?
Actually, what the petitioners are asking for is being driven by public opinion, and most places now don't provide plastic straws and have gone back to paper straws. And my understanding is that milk in schools is moving in that direction. But this is really being driven by a very strong public campaign and opposition to unnecessary plastic.
Yes, but I think we should, at some stage, thank the pupils for bringing it forward.
Yes, definitely. Thank you.
The next one is 3.16, page 188: 'Water Safety/Drowning Prevention and the effects of Cold Water Shock to be taught in all Schools in Wales'. This was first submitted by Carmarthenshire Water Safety Partnership after collecting 896 signatures.
'We call on the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to include—Water Safety/Drowning Prevention and the effects of cold-water shock to be taught on the national curriculum in Wales. In 2016 we saw the launch of the first ever water safety strategy in the UK, which aims to reduce water related fatalities by 50% by 2026. Collaboration, awareness, education and prevention are the main focuses.'
And they believe that Wales needs to respond in support.
I'm like a stuck record, but it's another one of these things that should be under the personal and social education curriculum.
The Welsh Government has agreed to support the development of a water safety strategy for Wales. This is now being developed by the Royal Life Saving Society UK and is scheduled for consultation at the end of the year. The Minister has asked officials to share the recommendations previously made by the petitioners with the RLSS in order to inform this work.
Chair, it seems to me there are two issues here that are a bit tangential to the petition, but I think are quite key in this debate. First of all, there are basic swimming lessons that every child should have, and, as part of those swimming lessons, they should be taught about what is and what isn't safe, in terms of where and what kind of temperatures they should swim in. But the second issue is: we've got a very different attitude to outdoor swimming and wild swimming, compared to somewhere like France, where, in France, you can buy a map that indicates where is good to swim, in rivers, artificial beaches—all of that kind of thing. Whereas here, all you see is signs to say, 'Don't swim'. Children and young people and many adults love outdoor, wild swimming, so if we don't make those places available, and signpost where it is good to swim, then this kind of thing will inevitably happen, because people will just go and chance it, wherever there's open water, and there's a lot of that in Wales.
So, I think we should look at a strategy being much wider than just telling children, 'Don't swim in cold water' or 'Don't swim in that particular body of water'. But it should be about as well saying, 'Well, it's safe to go here', or even provide some sort of supervision. They do a lot of that in France as well—on designated rivers they've got somebody on a look-out chair, a high chair, to make sure that everyone's safe. I just think we need to think about outdoor swimming in a completely different way to the way we do at the moment.
So, do you want us to write to the Royal Life Saving Society to seek further information about the work being undertaken to develop a water safety plan for Wales?
Yes, I'd like to see those points. We've just lost a very young child in my own town, within my own constituency, in very, very similar circumstances.
It's terrible when it happens, but children will—you know, they will go and play.
Yes. But I like the ideas that you've suggested there; I think they could be incorporated into any plan, really. Yes. Okay.
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi).
that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi).
Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
And then, with the committee's permission, motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public for item 5. So, I propose, in accordance with the Standing Order, that the committee resolve to meet in private for item 5 of today's agenda. Are Members content?
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 09:55.
The public part of the meeting ended at 09:55.