Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Power of Music

I had a recent meeting with Andy Eagle at Theatr Brycheiniog and we discussed how a scheme that had been set up in Scotland has helped deprived children. The scheme has had a really positive effect and achieved social transformation in the Stirling part of Scotland.

Raploch is a stunning location near to Stirling Castle in Scotland and is overlooked by the Ochil Hills. It is, however, one of Scotland’s most deprived areas with 33% unemployment, serious problems of drug and alcohol abuse and poor health. Only 4 children out of every 100 make it to Higher Education.

The project that has been set up to change the future for Raploch’s young people has meant immersing them in classical music and working with children at nursery and primary school level. It has been based on the Venezuelan El Sistema, a music education social inclusion project. 388 children have been involved and they receive extra tuition in after school clubs and during holidays. Parents questioned said their children’s confidence had improved, reports of better concentration and better discipline, and more focussed attention in school work has shown the scheme is having a great success.

It costs less than half a million pounds a year and its success is something that could be replicated in communities in Wales.

I am very keen that this should be pursued through the good offices of something like Theatre Brycheiniog which is already working with the Mid Wales Chamber Orchestra throughout the area of Mid & West Wales.

What a fantastic scheme to help young children and, at the same time, to teach them classical music as well as the playing of an instrument.

I play no instrument and until relatively recently had no great interest in classical music. I think this is a marvellous project.

Friday, 4 March 2011


I was recently contacted by a constituent living in Carmarthenshire who needed cataract operations in both eyes. The constituent had one operation in October 2010 only to be told he was no longer a priority case and that he could not have a second operation.

I wrote to Hywel Dda Health Board about this and in their reply they said;

“Due to overwhelming demand on ophthalmology services, Hywel Dda Health Board has taken the decision not to see all patients referred to secondary care.”

They also said they had difficulties in recruiting medical staff. I am very concerned that Hywel Dda Local Health Board has confirmed to me that it will treat only one cataract per patient.

If a second treatment is required, the cataract will not be treated. This is wrong.

This sort of rationing is something that we can ill afford in Wales. It is not the way to run a national health service.

This clearly demonstrates the Welsh Conservatives are correct to commit to protecting the health budget in line with inflation and to cut waste and not health spending.