JANE HUTT'S removal as Welsh Health Minister comes after a series of open and unprecedented public attacks on her by politicians from her own party.
Perhaps the most stinging criticism came in February last year from Pontypridd MP Kim Howells, a UK Government Minister who has the ear of Tony Blair.
Dr Howells was infuriated when he had to wait 10 weeks for a reply after writing to her on behalf of a constituent. The eventual response came not from Ms Hutt herself, but from her diary secretary.
In a follow-up letter to Jane Hutt, Dr Howells wrote, "Such behaviour does not smack of a professional approach by your department. In the 15 years that I have served as an MP, I have rarely, if ever, had to wait so long for a response from a minister of any description or any party.
"Never have I had to suffer the discourtesy of a reply on an important subject like this one, not from the minister, but from someone unknown signing it on behalf of the minister's diary secretary."
The vehemence of Dr Howells' reaction reflected a far wider malaise among Welsh Labour MPs about Ms Hutt's performance.
Cardiff Central MP Jon Owen Jones, himself a former Welsh Office Health Minister who faces an extremely strong challenge from the Liberal Democrats at the coming general election, is concerned not just about his own political survival, but about the damage caused to the National Assembly's reputation as an institution by long waiting lists.
A year ago, he told the Western Mail that the Assembly Government's poor performance on hospital waiting lists was damaging the case for further devolution.
He said the administration in Cardiff Bay would be judged by how it delivered public services, adding, "The largest and most expensive devolved public service is health. It is far from clear that devolution has delivered any advantage to Welsh patients, in fact in many ways the opposite is true.
"This outcome is not inherent in devolution but neither is it true that greater powers will magically improve our relative position. In England, as in Wales, the health service has benefited from huge increases in funding but England has pursued reform far more vigorously than Wales."
Mr Jones cited several reforms the Assembly Government could introduce:
Some hospitals and some services should be closed and new services opened elsewhere so that the right beds are where they are needed and results improved. This will be unpopular locally wherever a closure is proposed.
New hospitals are more efficient but they cannot be built as quickly as in England and Scotland without using PFI. This will be unpopular with the unions.
Bed blocking could be greatly reduced if local authorities hadto bear the costs of delayed discharges. This would be unpopular with councils.
Failure should not be rewarded by underwriting the debts of poor performing areas at the expense of those which have been well managed. This would be unpopular locally in poor performing areas.
Mr Jones concluded, "A large majority has allowed Westminster to do all this and more.
"The Welsh Assembly Government has been unable or unwilling to do any of it as yet."
As May's expected general election approaches, the argument for removing Ms Hutt from the health portfolio has become irresistible. Welsh Labour MPs fighting to retain their seats have nightmares about opposition parties focusing their campaigns on Jane Hutt's running of the health service. With Ms Hutt gone, Labour hopes its opponents' attacks will be less telling.
For Rhodri Morgan, the problem of when to get rid of Jane Hutt was a huge dilemma. After all the criticism she has faced, the moment had to be chosen carefully because of the danger of apparently admitting the opposition's charge that she was incompetent. Shifting her to a less sensitive Cabinet post mitigates the damage because Mr Morgan can maintain the facade that she has been a good minister.
To have consigned her to the back benches would have been presentationally undesirable. Dealing such a hand to a close family friend would also have been difficult. But move her he had to before the election campaign proper gets under way.