Present

  • Ken Skates AM (Chair)
  • Rebecca Evans AM
  • Vaughan Gething AM (until item 3)
  • Lesley Griffiths AM
  • Jeremy Miles AM (until item 4)
  • Eluned Morgan AM
  • Hannah Blythyn AM
  • Jane Hutt AM (until item 4)
  • Shan Morgan – Permanent Secretary
  • Will Whiteley – Head of Cabinet Division
  • Damian Roche – Cabinet, Plenary and Committee Secretariat (minutes)
  • Sophie Jones – Cabinet Secretariat
  • Andrew Goodall – Director General, Health and Social Services
  • Andrew Gwatkin – Director, International Relations and Trade
  • Wendy Boddington – Head of Energy Policy and Regulation
  • Bryn Richards – Head of Regional Planning

Item 1: Introduction and terms of reference

1.1. The Minister for Economy and Transport welcomed attendees to the first meeting of the Cabinet Committee on North Wales. As outlined in the Terms of Reference, the purpose of the Committee was to consider any matter relevant to the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of North Wales.

1.2. The Committee would report to Cabinet on any cross-cutting issues or matters that would have financial or legislative implications and Cabinet collective responsibility would apply at all times.

1.3. The Chair noted that meetings would be held across the North Wales region and this arrangement would accord with the Committee’s ambition to be visible and proactive across the area.

Item 2: Primary Health Care – CAB-NW(18-19)02

2.1 The Minister for Health and Social Services introduced the paper, which provided an update on the approach to health and wellbeing through delivery of the Primary Care Model and in particular those examples relating to North Wales.

2.2 The transformation of Primary Care in Wales was as a result of the Government’s vision to deliver a system where people could access the right care, at the right time and from the right source, at home or as close to it as possible.

2.3 Central to this change was the creation of a stable General Practice model and despite some public perception that merging smaller practices could lead to a loss of services, the reality was that larger practices were more sustainable and able to deliver better services and access for patients.

2.4 It was noted that the ‘Train, Work, Live’ marketing campaign, focused on attracting GPs and nurses, had led to more people choosing Wales for their training and the Government was investing in an additional 24 GP training places.

2.5 The Cabinet Committee noted that reform of primary care contracts for general medical services, community pharmacy and NHS dentistry had begun to deliver improvements in care. For example, community pharmacists as opposed to GPs or hospitals were sharing the burden by treating some common problems.

2.6 Specifically in relation to North Wales, it was noted that the community care hub in Wrexham was offering coordinated care and support for the homeless, bringing together services such as GP, mental health and substance misuse. This model was making best use of existing resources, sharing good practice and community assets to improve the lives of those faced by homelessness.

2.7 In addition, Together for Mental Health in North Wales was a major part of the transformation proposals and the aim was to promote the mental wellbeing of people in the area and ensure those faced with mental illness could access the support they needed, when they needed it most.

2.8 The Committee noted the paper.

Item 3: Cross-border arrangements concerning health, transport and economic development

3.1 The Minister for Health and Social Services introduced the health aspects of this cross-cutting paper and outlined the challenges faced by a system that sought to provide: seamless travel for individuals to work across borders; efficient delivery of goods and services; and continued access to healthcare on both sides of the border.

3.2 It was reported that recent action taken by the Countess of Chester NHS Trust to stop accepting elective referrals from Betsi Cadwaladr UHB had caused distress to patients on both sides of the border and had a significant impact on the cross-border relationship.

3.3 In parallel, additional costs had been built into the cross-border healthcare tariff in England, which had led to a dispute about the level of these charges and a potential £14m unplanned deficit for the Welsh NHS.

3.4 The Committee noted that positive action had been taken by the government to address these issues, including working more closely with the DHSC and as a result, securing representation on the UK government’s Tariff Advisory Group. This would ensure that the financial consequences of any tariff decisions made across the border could be tracked and their impact highlighted well in advance, as part of budgetary planning.

3.5 In terms of major success stories across the North Wales region, significant capital funding had been provided for a number of schemes, including:

  • £163.957 million for Ysbyty Glan Clwyd to address asbestos and fire safety issues and a further £2.260m for development of a hybrid theatre
  • £17.9 million for a Sub Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Centre in North Wales
  • £13.893 million for Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor Emergency Department
  • £3.290 million for Wrexham Maelor hospital day surgery and endoscopy unit

3.6 The Committee welcomed these developments and improvements with Betsi Cadwaladr UHB since its entry into special measures.

3.7 Turning to the transport and economic development aspects of the paper, the Minister for Economy and Transport set out current collaborative arrangements across road, rail (including the Metro) and sea, with the Wales-Ireland border a major trade link.

3.8 The Committee focused on the potential for expansion in cross-border arrangements with the Mersey-Dee alliance (MDA). The combined MDA area, which comprised Wrexham, Flintshire, the Wirral and Cheshire West and Chester represented over 950,000 people, with a GVA of approximately £23bn with almost 400,000 people employed across 32,000 enterprises, with 120 of those employing 250 or more people.

3.9 There was already a strong history of partnership working within the North Wales – North West England area, including the wider Northern Powerhouse, with at least 12 different programmes addressing the major industries such as nuclear, tourism and advanced manufacturing.

3.10 The Committee welcomed these arrangements but agreed that strengthening the links between these existing networks and intensifying the work done by the MDA would be key.

Item 4: Growth Deal and the wider Economic Plan

4.1 The Minister for Economy and Transport introduced the paper, which invited the Cabinet Committee to note the approach to negotiations on the structure of the North Wales Growth Deal (NWGD); the regional governance model; and advise on cross portfolio alignment to deliver the aims of the Economic Action Plan in North Wales.

4.2 The Committee noted the Economic Ambition Board’s expectation that up to £500 million of private sector investment would be leveraged in against the circa £250 million of public funding, which was in addition to the £120 million already publicly committed by the government. This meant a total investment in excess of £1 billion for the region, with the creation of over 4,000 direct and over 10,000 indirect jobs over the 15 year project lifespan. The overall aim was for the value of the North Wales economy to increase from £13.6 billion in 2016 to £26 billion in 2035.

4.3 The EAB had proposed a 2 phased approach to delivery, with the projects in phase one including:

  • North Wales Digital Connectivity
  • SMART energy
  • Trawsfynydd Power Station
  • Nuclear Energy Centre of Excellence
  • Land and Property Programme
  • Holyhead Gateway project.

4.4 Committee members were pleased to see that the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act was explicitly covered along with strong links to the five ways of working set out in the Act.

4.5 The Committee considered the NWGD and its relationship with the wider Regional Economic Plan and noted the intention to establish a governance model that would include a Joint Scrutiny and Consultative Committee to link the work of this Committee with that of the Local Authority led EAB. The scrutiny committee would have cross-party representation from AMs, MPs, LAs and Town and Community Councils to ensure representation across all sectors.

4.6 The Committee agreed the paper.

Item 5: International strategy: oral update

5.1 The Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language provided an update on development of the new International Strategy, which had a cross-government approach.

5.2 The strategy would be a high-level document, supported by delivery plans that would be able to flex in response to external factors such as the impact of Brexit and any ensuing trade agreements or changes to the global economy.

5.3 Delivery of the strategy would be supported by three core pillars: creativity; sustainability; and technology and within these three areas there would be a specific focus on the semi-conductor industry, cyber security and quality TV and film production.

Cabinet Secretariat
June 2019