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National Health Service

Volume 406: debated on Wednesday 4 June 2003

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If he will make a statement on the national health service in Wales. [116426]

Under our Government the national health service in Wales has been receiving record investment, and record numbers of patients are being seen.

The Health and Social Care Bill says that foundation hospitals will provide goods and services from the NHS for people in England. Why is Wales excluded, given that 26,000 people from Wales seek treatment in England each year?

One of the Conservatives' problems is their inability to recognise that devolution was designed to allow different parts of the United Kingdom to do things differently. That is what is happening in Wales. The hon. Lady does not, of course, advertise the fact that the Conservatives believe in 20 per cent. cuts in health spending. [Interruption.] Oh yes, they do. Their leader has advocated those cuts. Moreover, the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood), a former Secretary of State for Wales, says that 20 per cent. is not enough. What does the hon. Lady believe in, and what does the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) believe in?

Despite what is said by the knockers in the Conservative party who presided over a long-term decline in the health service, is it not the case that under this Government a record number of new hospitals have been built, a record number of nurses have been recruited, and a new cancer centre has been built at Glan Clwyd hospital in my constituency?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Under the Conservatives, 100 hospitals were closed in Wales. Under Labour, 10 new hospitals are being built or have already opened. We are recruiting 3,500 more NHS staff, an extra 6,000 nurses, an extra 525 consultants and 175 more GPs. That is an excellent record, compared with the dreadful record of the Tories.

What discussions has the Secretary of State had with colleagues here and in Cardiff about the impact of the establishment of foundation hospitals along the border with Wales? What has been the effect of recruitment of staff from Welsh hospitals, and the treatment of patients from Welsh hospitals in the English foundation hospitals?

Obviously patients have the right to cross the border in either direction, but we are keeping the matter under close review, and I have already discussed it with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health.