Statement: The Evidence Underpinning the Case for Reconfiguring the NHS in Wales

Mark Drakeford: Minister, I agree with Elin Jones that Professor Longley’s views ought not to be the subject of our discussion this afternoon. However, as they have been called into question across the Chamber, I just want to say that I have known Professor Longley for many years, here in the Assembly and in the academic arena. I have not always agreed with him, and I have shared platforms with him at different times in Wales to debate different views on the Welsh health service and its policies. In all of that, he has always been an analyst of outstanding integrity, whether disagreeing with Government policy or endorsing aspects of it. Whatever he draws on, the views he expresses are his own. Do you agree, Minister, that those who have been so cavalier in attacking the reputation of others have succeeded only in damaging their own?

Lesley Griffiths: Yes, I do. You made a very interesting point in saying that you have not always agreed with Professor Longley, because Professor Longley has certainly not always agreed with the Welsh Government. Therefore, to portray him as a stooge or someone who would connive with us is appalling. No, we are not here to discuss his reputation, but, equally, I cannot stand back. How are we ever going to get people to do work for us? I approach people to do such work. Professor Longley did a review of the community health councils for me. How are we going to get people to do work for us if this is the outcome?