Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Health Service in Wales

I have already dropped a comment in Facebook to the effect that the Daily Mail's use of spurious statistic does no good to the genuine case against Labour's handling of the NHS in Wales. I had started a blog post about the differences - and similarities - between the two health services, but it has been replaced by a message from Kirsty Williams.

There is no stronger critic of Labour’s catastrophic failings on health in Wales than me. Their appalling record speaks for itself: A&E targets that have never been met, the worst ambulance response times in the UK, the scandal of children with mental health issues being treated on adult wards… the list just goes on.

It’s clear that the Welsh Labour Government needs to be held to account for their mismanagement of our NHS.

What I will not accept, however, is the issue of cross-border care being dragged into this war of words. For many Welsh patients, the closest hospital to them is in England. Many of my own constituents use the County Hospital in Hereford. But all services used by Welsh patients are paid for by the Welsh NHS. In fact, patients from Wales are precisely what’s keeping many services at Hereford running. 

Labelling these people as 'refugees' is a disgrace. I will not accept the Tories and the right-wing press using my constituents as a boot in this game of political football, and I’ve written to Jeremy Hunt telling him to stop.

Both Labour and the Tories are using this so-called 'war' for their own political convenience. For them, Welsh patients are just collateral damage. The Welsh Liberal Democrats refuse to let that happen. That’s why we need to sit down and have a sensible debate about the future of our health services.

I'm glad to know that Kirsty's plan for a Commission with staff, patient and cross-party representation has not been rejected out-of-hand by the Welsh Health Minister and I await developments with interest.

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