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First Minister’s hypocrisy over NHS as children's ambulance service put in private hands

Welsh Liberal Democrats in Rhondda Cynon Taff have accused the First Minister of "breathtaking hypocrisy" after a Freedom of Information response confirmed children's ambulance services are now being provided by Bristol Ambulance Service - a private provider.

As reported by the Western Mail in September the paediatric retrieval service which was based in Cardiff has been moved to Bristol. In response to a series of questions to the Welsh Ambulance Trust a reply was received which stated

"I can confirm that the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust no longer holds the contract. It is with Bristol Ambulance Service which is a private supplier. "

Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly candidate for Pontypridd Mike Powell says this goes against all the claims made by the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, and his Labour colleagues.

"Carwyn Jones constantly argues against privatisation of any part of the health service in England, whilst him and his colleagues try to position themselves as the champions of the NHS.

"Has he forgotten his words to the TUC Conference in 2013 that 'There is no room for privatisation of public services in Wales, and I give you that commitment now.'

"Later that same year Martin Shipton reported in the Western Mail his promise that 'We are not privatising the NHS in Wales - and never will.'

"Yet here we have a vital service which has the potential to affect the lives of children and their families across Wales being placed in private hands, and not even within Wales. It decries all the spin coming from Labour."

Karen Roberts, who will be the Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate in the Rhondda next May, added

"Providing that the service to the public is as good or better for the same or less cost then I see no problem in certain services being provided by private companies. However, it is total hypocrisy to pretend to be against it but at the same time sneak in privatised services by the back door.

"If the First Minister and his Cabinet have changed their minds about allowing private companies to operate public services then at least be open about it.

"The Welsh NHS has been using private healthcare companies for some time for services such as scans in order to cut down waiting lists. That would seem to be at least sensible. Farming out an essential ambulance service to a provider outside of Wales you would think warrants a little more transparency."