‘Second-class NHS’ for the Welsh

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Published: Tuesday 21st October 2014 by The News Editor

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Welsh patients receive a “second-class” health service, Jeremy Hunt has claimed.

The Health Secretary told MPs in the Commons there was “absolutely intolerable pressure” on hospitals on the England-Wales border.

His comments came as Conservative Stephen Mosley, MP for the City of Chester, raised concerns about the “strains” placed on healthcare in his constituency through patients from Wales.

Speaking during health questions, Mr Mosley said: “He will be aware of the strains that are placed on the budgets of the Countess of Chester NHS trust because of the need to treat thousands of patients every year who are fleeing the disastrous management of Labour in Wales.

“What action is he taking to ensure that hospitals on the English side of the border get a fair share or resources?”

Mr Hunt replied: “Well he is right to talk about that absolutely intolerable pressure on hospitals on the England-Wales border, so for every one English patient that is admitted for treatment in a Welsh hospital, five Welsh patients are admitted for treatment in an English hospital, and that creates huge pressure for them.

“I have written to the Welsh health minister to say that the NHS is happy to treat more Welsh patients, but the trouble is they aren’t prepared to pay for it, and that’s why Welsh patients get a second-class health service.”

Asked by Conservative David Davies (Monmouth) how many patients who live in England had written to him to request treatment in Wales, Mr Hunt said: “Given the perilous state in Labour-run Wales, you will not be surprised to know that not a single English patient has written to me asking for funding to be treated in Wales.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “The people of Wales receive a first-class NHS. To suggest otherwise would be a gross misrepresentation of the facts. Independent studies show the UK’s four health services are performing at a similar level.

“Every year, thousands of English patients are treated in Wales and thousands of Welsh patients are treated in England. The number of Welsh patients receiving treatment at NHS England hospitals has fallen each year since 2011-12.

“However, for the last full year we have full statistics for, the number of English patients being treated in Wales has risen – from 7,888 in 2012-13 to 8,037 in 2013-14.

“Some Welsh patients, especially those who live close to the English border, either rely on English hospitals for secondary care or find it easier and quicker to access routine NHS hospital services in England because they are closer to their homes than facilities in Wales.

“Many patients living in North and Mid Wales also receive specialist hospital care in England, for example, people in North Wales will go to Liverpool or Manchester for cardiac surgery and Gobowen for orthopaedic surgery, just as many patients living in south-west England receive specialist burns care in Wales.”

Published: Tuesday 21st October 2014 by The News Editor

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