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Minister snubs Evening Post fight

Welsh Assembly health minister Jane Hutt has snubbed the South Wales Evening Post’s campaign objecting to plans to move a children’s neurosurgery unit from Swansea to Cardiff.

As part of the paper’s campaign readers have been sending in vouchers printed in the Evening Post to show their objections to the move – and so far almost 80,000 have been received.

The paper had planned to present these to the health minister when the campaign ends in September, but she has refused to receive the petition, despite admitting that she will have responsibility for the final decision on the unit.

Instead she has suggested the paper gives the petition to the Special Health Services Commission for Wales (SHSCW) – the body that wants to close down the head injury unit.

Proposals on the future of the head injury service are now out to public consultation and the Commission is expected to make its final recommendations in the autumn, with Mrs Hutt likely to then have her final say in October.

In an opinion piece in the paper, Evening Post editor George Edwards slammed the health minister’s decision.

He said: “The refusal of Jane Hutt to receive our Kids Come First petition is both puzzling and shocking.

“Raising petitions to underline popular opinion on important issues is a long-standing tradition in our democracy.

“Until now, the politicians charged with making the final decisions have extended the courtesy of accepting them with good grace, whether they would be councillors or cabinet ministers.

“The Kids Come First petition, to stop the shut down of children’s neurosurgery in Swansea, is already the biggest petition to be presented to the Assembly and it could total 100,000 names by the end of September.

“The idea that it should be presented to the very health quango that has called for the closure is, frankly, insulting.”

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