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Cross-border Treatment (England/Wales)

Volume 586: debated on Tuesday 21 October 2014

14. How many patients resident in England have written to him to request that they be treated in Wales. (905552)

Given the perilous state of the NHS in Labour-run Wales, my hon. Friend will not be surprised to know that not a single English patient has written to me asking for funding to be treated in Wales.

My hon. Friend is correct. That will come as no surprise to anyone who has had dealings with the NHS in Wales. In the light of that, will he assure us that he will do everything possible to push ahead with the OECD comparison report into the health systems in Wales and England, on which the Welsh Assembly Government are disgracefully trying to obfuscate and cause delay because they are afraid of what might be discovered?

I am afraid that that says it all. Opposition Front Benchers tell us continually that they are not prepared to condemn what is happening in Wales and that the health service in Wales is performing well, yet here is an opportunity to prove it—an independent study by the OECD of the four NHS systems in the UK—and Labour is trying to block it. This issue matters, because the policies in Wales are what Labour wants to do in England.

Will the Secretary of State concede that for many decades people from north Wales have had to travel to England for treatment? In that respect, both Government and Opposition Front Benchers are culpable.

The Government are happy for people to travel anywhere in the United Kingdom. My concern about health services in England is the pressure created, because for every patient that goes from England to Wales, five want to come from Wales to England.

17. My right hon. Friend will be aware that his new website, My NHS, is providing much more openness and transparency for patients from England. To what extent does the extra information and ability to improve standards in hospitals as a result also apply to Wales? (905555)

This is the big lesson that we have learned after the tragedy of Mid Staffs. The Francis report said that the NHS had become over-dependent on a targets culture that was damaging for patients, and the Government think that the way to improve standards is through transparency, openness, and the pressure of peer review. We have embraced that lesson wholeheartedly, and it is such a shame that the Welsh Labour Government have taken a different tack.

Has the Secretary of State seen today’s Western Mail? If he has, he will know that the Western Mail, which is not a Labour supporting paper, totally condemns the scaremongering of the Conservative party.

When I started speaking out about poor care in England—one of the first things I did in this job—those on the Labour Front Bench said that I was running down the NHS. The result of my speaking out is that we are turning around failing hospitals and have 5,000 more nurses on our wards. The NHS in England is getting safer and better, and we want exactly the same thing for Wales.