'Young people in colleges are facing a catastrophe unless action is taken now'

By Jake Chown  
Friday 17th September 2021 6:06 am
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Young people in colleges are facing a catastrophe unless action is taken now

Peter Fox, MS for Monmouth, has warned that pupils’ futures will be thrown into doubt, if colleges across Wales are left with no option but to pull vital educational courses.

Coleg Gwent has now warned that it may be forced to suspend courses which carry any physical risk—such as sport--following an incident where one of its pupils was left waiting for nine hours for an ambulance.

The Principal of the Coleg Gwent, Guy Lacey, has since warned that if medical help cannot be guaranteed, then many courses will not pass a risk assessment.

Mr Fox, who recently met with Mr Lacey, said: “This is a deeply worrying situation and one which could have dire consequences for our young people.

“We need to see the Welsh Government finally getting on top of NHS and ambulance waiting times because the crisis is growing in severity by the day. It is clear that the only way vitally important courses will be retained is if the ambulance waiting times are tackled once and for all.

“I’m in communication with the family of the young person who was recently injured - and the ordeal she experienced was totally unacceptable.

“We need decisive action to prevent young people being starved of opportunity which’ll prevent them getting back on their feet post-pandemic.”

He added: “I shall be raising this deeply concerning situation with the Welsh Government.”

Principal Guy Lacey echoed similar remarks, saying: “Coleg Gwent rightly prides itself on its wide variety of popular and practical vocational courses.

“But, following a recent accident, where a learner, who had a suspected spinal injury, was left waiting for an ambulance for nine hours, we’ve been left with no option but to re-evaluate some of our practical activities.

“First and foremost, the safety of our students is paramount. But, in the same breath, if a swift medical emergency response cannot be guaranteed, then unfortunately many courses will potentially have practical activities that will not pass our vigorous risk assessments.

“This would be a huge blow to our students’ learning experience, and I sincerely hope it can be prevented.”

And Laura Jones, the Member of the Senedd for South Wales East, added: “I share my colleague Peter’s concerns that it’s a very real threat that Coleg Gwent could have no choice but to halt some practical courses.

“Ambulance waiting times are unacceptably long in Wales and it needs sorting swiftly.”

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