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Healthcare Provision

Volume 728: debated on Wednesday 1 March 2023

2. What recent discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on the adequacy of NHS provision in Wales. (903770)

7. What discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on the adequacy of healthcare services in Wales. (903775)

A gaf i hefyd ddymuno dydd gŵyl Dewi hapus i bawb?—[Translation: May I also wish everyone a happy St Davids day?]

Health is a devolved matter and we therefore have no control over how the National Health Service is delivered in Wales—that is a matter for the Welsh Labour Government—but improving health outcomes for people across the UK is, of course, a priority for this Government, and we have made sure that the devolved Administrations have the funding to enable them to deliver the same high standards of care that have been delivered in England by this Conservative Government.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that a top priority for the Welsh Government should be helping the 45,000 people who are currently waiting more than two years for treatment in the NHS in Wales, rather than focusing on things such as banning meal deals and axing road improvement schemes?

I agree completely with my right hon. Friend. Figures from the Office for National Statistics this week suggest that around 1 in 5 people in Wales is now on a waiting list as opposed to just 1 in 18 people in England. As she has just pointed out, 50,000 people have been waiting more than two years for healthcare in Wales. I would far rather see the money that will be spent on creating extra Senedd Members spent on delivering healthcare in Wales.

Despite the Welsh Government receiving £1.20 for every £1 spent on public services in England, they spend only £1.05 of that money. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Welsh Government should spend less time and money on expanding the Senedd and putting tampons in men’s toilets, and focus on delivering a proper service for the people of Wales?

I agree completely with my hon. Friend. I am sure that the 50,000 people who are in pain and on waiting lists at the moment would far rather see the £100 million that will be spent on expanding the Senedd being spent on delivering healthcare and reducing waiting lists in Wales.

The Secretary of State will be aware that higher levels of poverty give rise to higher healthcare costs and higher absolute numbers of people needing healthcare, so how can he justify the fact that Wales does not get its 5% share of High Speed 2—£5 billion—and is losing enormous amounts of money from EU funding, which he promised would be provided, and thousands of jobs in Welsh universities? We need that productivity to alleviate poverty and to put less pressure on the NHS. It is his fault that those waiting lists are growing.

I certainly do not recognise the figures that the hon. Gentleman has come up with on HS2. The fact is that the UK Government have replaced EU funding in full through the shared prosperity fund, the community ownership fund, the community renewal fund, levelling-up funds and much else besides. The UK Government have also made certain that £1.20 is delivered per head of population for NHS care in Wales, as opposed to £1 in England. It is very hard for him to explain why Wales receives more money to deliver healthcare and yet delivers lower standards.

If the UK Government were to uplift NHS and social care pay in England to the level in Scotland, it would unlock funding for all the devolved nations to support their national health services through the cost of living crisis. Will the Secretary of State discuss the possibility of a pay uplift and its impact on Wales with Cabinet colleagues?

The hon. Lady is right that Scotland is very generously funded. She seems to be making an argument that Wales and England should receive more money per head than Scotland does at the moment and that she would be happy with that: I doubt it very much. The reality is that despite the generous funding that the Scottish Government receive, they have very poor outcomes, and some of their own members have said that health care in Scotland is close to collapse.