The House of Commons Welsh Affairs Select Committee published its interim report “The provision of cross-border health services for Wales” on 10 July 2008. We are today laying before Parliament the Command Paper (Cm 7531) setting out the Government response to the report.
We have carefully considered the Committee’s interim report. The Command Paper discusses the wider context of cross-border health care, including arrangements to co-ordinate service provision, the commissioning, funding and quality of services, and provides the additional information requested by the Committee.
The Government agree with the Committee that the border between England and Wales does not represent a barrier to the provision of health care. The core principles of the national health service continue to apply across the UK and an inevitable and healthy consequence of devolution has been some divergence in health policy between England and Wales.
The Government and the Welsh Assembly Government operate a protocol whereby responsibility for a patient who lives on one side of the border and is registered with a GP on the other can be determined. The protocol has been renewed annually and is currently in place until April 2009. It is supported by an annual transfer of funds from the Department of Health to the Welsh Assembly Government to cover the costs of providing secondary care for the greater number of patients who live in England but have a GP in Wales. Negotiations on the renewal of the protocol are almost complete.