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Welsh Assembly announce bill on alcohol minimum pricing

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BEERSTHE WELSH ASSEMBLY Deputy Minister for Health has announced a plan to introduce minimum pricing on the unit cost of alcohol. AM Vaughan Gething unveiled the draft, ‘Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill’, and stated that it would ‘help save lives by tackling the impact on health and society and drinking too much alcohol’.

The bill proposes introducing an offence for alcohol to be sold or supplied below the minimum price per unit, which would be set at 50p per unit, although this, it says, would be kept under review. The Welsh Government claim that Introducing a 50p minimum unit price is estimated to be worth £882m to the Welsh economy in terms of reductions in illness, crime and workplace absence over 20 years. They state that alcohol misuse in Wales is estimated to cost the Welsh NHS around £109m every year in hospital admissions alone.

They have also linked the problem with crime, and the cost of crime to the taxpayer, which they say would also be expected to fall following the introduction of a minimum unit price, with, they claim, an estimated 3,684 fewer offences a year. Workplace absence the Government says would also fall by up to 10,000 days per year.

The draft bill also proposes new powers for Welsh Ministers to make subordinate legislation to set the minimum unit price for all alcohol sold or supplied in Wales as well as powers for local authorities to enforce the minimum unit price, including powers of entry for authorised officers; an offence of obstructing an authorised officer and the power to issue fixed penalty notices.

Mr Gething said: “Tackling alcohol misuse is a priority for the Welsh Government. In 2013, there were 467 alcohol-related deaths in Wales. Each of these deaths was preventable. This new draft Bill signifies our firm commitment to use our legislative powers to improve and protect the health of the people of Wales. Evidence shows that introducing minimum unit price of 50p per unit would be effective in reducing alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harms and the costs associated with those harms. It will save lives, reduce rates of crime, help ensure valuable NHS resources are used wisely and help businesses by reducing absence from the workplace. Minimum unit pricing will affect those drinks sold at unacceptably low prices relative to their alcohol content. This is a particularly well-targeted measure as it will only have a small impact on moderate drinkers and have the biggest impact on high-risk drinkers.”

The Bill has been met with general approval with Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Health, Darren Millar AM, saying: “A minimum unit price for alcoholic drinks will not in itself address the problems caused by alcohol in society but it would be a step in the right direction. Minimum pricing should be part of a broader package of measures which should include improved education about the dangers of alcohol to younger people and a greater investment in alcohol abuse services. While we will support the Welsh Government’s aims in principle, it will be important to resolve questions which remain over whether the proposals fall within the devolution settlement. The cost of alcohol abuse is incalculable and is often a contributory factor in homelessness, unwanted pregnancy, violence, road accidents, marital break-up and obesity. The need to tackle substance misuse is absolutely crucial.”

The Party of Wales Shadow Health Minister Elin Jones said: “Plaid Cymru has always supported action to minimise the misuse of alcohol and we support minimum pricing. We will scrutinise this Bill thoroughly as it makes its way through the Assembly. However, figures show that alcohol is most widely misused by the professional and managerial classes who are less sensitive to price increases. This Bill in its current form will not tackle this problem – the Labour Government must do more if we are to tackle this problem across the whole socio-economic spectrum.”

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Health

Those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster should get jabbed by end of June

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ALL those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster are being urged to take up their offer of the vaccine before the end of next month.

A deadline of 30 June has been introduced to ensure all those eligible for the spring booster will have a long-enough interval between this and the autumn 2022 booster, if they are also eligible.

An announcement by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) about which groups will be eligible for the autumn booster is due to be published shortly.

The JCVI has advised that people over-75, older care home residents and all those aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed are eligible for the spring booster.

Those who are 75 on or before 30 June, can get their booster at any point up to the deadline.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “It is important we continue our very high take up levels of the vaccine to help protect us against the risk of serious illness from Covid-19. I would urge everyone who is offered a spring booster vaccination takes up the invitation.”

If someone eligible for a spring booster has had a Covid infection recently, they will need to wait 28 days from the date they tested positive before they can be vaccinated. They will still be able to get vaccinated after 30 June as part of this campaign if they have to postpone their appointment.

All those eligible for spring boosters will be invited by their health board or GP.

It is not too late for anyone who needs a primary dose (first, second or third) to be vaccinated.

Please check for local arrangements.

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Health

Young people in Wales being failed when moving from child to adult mental health services

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MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES are failing young people when they move from child to adult services, says a mental health charity.

Mind Cymru is calling for Welsh Government to make urgent changes to improve the system.

Nia Evans, Children and Young People Manager at Mind Cymru, said: “Young people have told us that their needs, thoughts, and feelings about moving to adult services are often unheard, or ignored.

“Welsh Government must support Local Health Boards to make sure this doesn’t happen, change the way services are run and make sure our young people are being heard and properly cared for.”

Mind Cymru has published a report, in ate the result of interviews with young people about their experiences of moving from Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – (SCAMHS) to AMHS.

They highlighted five key areas where services are failing young people:
– Poor information offered to young people, particularly on their rights
– Inconsistent use and follow through of care and treatment plans
– High thresholds for SCAMHS and AMHS referrals to be accepted
– Feeling abandoned / cut off from SCAMHS
– Age still dominates decision making process for moving from SCAMHS to AMHS

Nia Evans said: “Any one of these issues could make the process of moving from children’s services to adult services difficult for our young people. But often, more than one is happening at any one time.”

“Our young people have a right to care and support from a mental health system that has been put in place to help them recover. Action must be taken immediately to make sure support systems are robust and doing the job they were designed to do.”

Mind Cymru is asking people to email their Member of the Senedd (MS) and amplify the voices of these young people whose experiences are often unheard, and use the #SortTheSwitch hashtag on social media.

The full report is available here, including what a good move from SCAMHS to AMHS would look like for young people, and where the current system could improve.

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Business

Average UK price of diesel hits record of more than £1.80 a litre

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LESS than two months after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 5p a litre cut on the average price of fuel – diesel prices have reached a record high price of 180.29p a litre.
The previous high of 179.90p was recorded on March 23rd 2022 – the day of the Spring Statement from Sunak.

In recent weeks, the UK government has tried to move away from its reliance on importing Russian oil, following President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Worryingly for drivers of petrol cars, the price per litre is fast approaching the record levels of 167.3p per litre set on March 22nd.

This latest price rise adds another challenge to UK households, as the cost of living crisis continues to impact families across the country.

RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Sadly, despite the Chancellor’s 5p a litre duty cut the average price of a litre of diesel has hit a new record high at 180.29p.”

“Efforts to move away from importing Russian diesel have led to a tightening of supply and pushed up the price retailers pay for diesel.”

“While the wholesale price has eased in the last few days this is likely to be temporary, especially if the EU agrees to ban imports of Russian oil.”

“Unfortunately, drivers with diesel vehicles need to brace themselves for yet more pain at the pumps. Had Mr Sunak reduced VAT to 15% as we call on him to do instead of cutting duty by 5p, drivers of diesel vehicles would be around 2p a litre better off, or £1 for every full tank.”

“As it is, drivers are still paying 27p VAT on petrol and 29p on diesel, which is just the same as before the Spring Statement.”

“The average price of petrol is also on the rise having gone up nearly 3p a litre since the start of the month to 166.65p which means it’s less than a penny away from the all-time high of 167.30p set on 22 March.”

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