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Cross-Border Health Services

Volume 515: debated on Tuesday 7 September 2010

5. What recent discussions he has had with the Welsh Assembly Government on the effects of proposed changes to health services in England on patients living in Wales who use those services. (13151)

Since the election, there have been informal, but no formal, discussions between my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and the Welsh Assembly Government. However, I understand that a meeting is planned for later this year. Clearly, there have been discussions between officials about the impact of the White Paper and the changes.

May I respectfully suggest that someone in the Government gets on and talks to the Welsh Assembly Government? A third of my constituents, who live in Wales, use the Countess of Chester hospital in England, and they use hospitals in Manchester, including the Christie and the Clatterbridge for cancer services, as well as the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt hospital in Shropshire for orthopaedic services. They are as appalled as I am by the changes being proposed by the Conservatives to destroy the NHS. Get on and talk to someone please.

May I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his question and assure him that officials have got on with it and do it constantly? It is important that we ensure that any changes are synchronised across the two areas, and I know that he will continue to raise cross-border issues. I can reassure him that we have already got on with it and he need not remind us to do so.

Given that patients in Wales, served by the Welsh Assembly, have to wait far longer for routine operations and ambulance responses, is it not the case that the only problem that the Department will face is that the people of Wales will be galvanised by the excellent policies of this Government into suggesting that the Welsh Assembly Government ditch their failed health policies and copy those of the coalition Government?

I thank my hon. Friend for that wonderful advertisement for the changes that we are bringing in. I agree with him and I am sure that the people of Wales will see the changes that we are bringing in and contact the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson) to urge him to ensure that the changes are also introduced in Wales.

Fourteen thousand people from Wales are registered with GPs in England, and 19,000 people from England are registered with GPs in Wales. Will the Under-Secretary ensure that the changes that she brings in do not lead to any dangers to the services provided for both sets of people travelling across the border, and that adequate financial recompense is made as well?

It is extremely important that people receive similar and safe passage and continuity of care across the borders, and we will continue to have conversations, both at ministerial level and between officials, to ensure that any hitches that arise are smoothed out as soon as possible.