Devolution offers the people of Wales an unrivalled opportunity to reshape their health service. But if the standard of debate among politicians at the NHS Confederation in Wales' annual conference last week is a foretaste of what can be expected once the Welsh assembly is up and running, there is little cause for optimism (See News Focus, page 14).

The spectacle of politicians issuing edicts with equal degrees of authority and ignorance is not new. But usually we can rely on at least some of our rulers having a more sophisticated understanding of the issues - one based on their own experience. It is unlikely this will be the case in the Welsh assembly. For by insisting that NHS staff should resign their jobs before standing for election, the legislation disbars 55,000 hospital doctors, nurses and managers from office almost as surely as if they were criminals in a high-security prison.

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