I suppose, as this is the first of my missives from Wales, it would be just as well to bring the less than ardent follower of things Welsh quickly up to date on where we are in the principality.

Devolution in Wales is thumping along. We have now had two acts - the first setting the whole thing up and the second giving more powers, which brings the Welsh Assembly somewhat closer to the Scottish model but not quite to the level of a full parliament.

We are now governed by a coalition of Labour and Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Nationalist Party. The two parties have an agreement - One Wales - which sets out their programme for government up to the next Assembly election in 2011. The Tories are the official opposition, having recovered over recent years from a position of having no elected Westminster representatives in Wales to having a few of those and many more of the Assembly type.

I was careful to say Labour and not New Labour. This has been a characteristic of post-devolution Wales that has only got more marked under the current coalition government.

It has variously manifested itself in the soundbite "clear red water" (between the Westminster and Cardiff governments), the policy approach "voice not choice", and the detailed analysis of public services and their relationship with citizens in the form of the Beecham report led by Sir Jeremy Beecham.

Even keel

Our last reorganisation in the NHS in Wales was in 2003. Five health authorities were scrapped and 22 local health boards were created. We retained the purchaser-provider split, with services being delivered through primary care contractors and a network of integrated trusts providing acute, community and mental health services.

Now, for those of you who have been around the NHS for any length of time at all, particularly in England over recent years, one thing will have struck you about the last paragraph: 2003 to 2008 is an awful long time to have a settled system and no reorganisations.

In case you are picking up the phone or emailing friends and colleagues in Wales to find out how we have managed to hit on a settled system that requires no reorganisation, I should point out that in the time between me writing this piece and you reading it, a consultation process will have been kicked off, at the heart of which will be one key intention: to end the purchaser-provider split.

That was exactly what I intended to explore in this article. But it will have to wait, as our minister has just addressed the thing that preocupies us all the most: car parking.

Parking scrap

The One Wales coalition document trailed the ending of the purchaser-provider split, prescription charges were scrapped some time ago, Wales implemented a single pay rise and not the staged one applied in England, yet none of these things provoked the sort of outraged indignation from a Westminster health minister as did the scrapping of car parking charges at hospitals from 1 April this year.

Ben Bradshaw, the minister in question, went, to use the vernacular, "off on one". Scrapping car parking charges was linked to longer waiting times for operations and in accident and emergency. It was linked to the decision not to extend GP opening hours in Wales. Someone somewhere managed to use the phrase "medical apartheid" in relation to the decision.

Back home in Wales, talk of "social justice", "sour grapes", "different methods of counting" and "unnecessary tension" tripped off the tongues of the most senior politicians.

Me, well, I would rather we spent the same amount of time and effort debating what impact the forthcoming proposed changes in NHS Wales will have on delivering efficient, effective and integrated services that put patients at their heart.

But then I have just bought a scooter.