Of course, I work within the NHS in north-east Wales and west Cheshire and see the stark realities of the disparity in healthcare services between the two. It is concerning that the Welsh Government have missed their target to eliminate two-year waits in most specialties and that more than 27,000 patients have been waiting over two years for treatment in Wales, compared with circa 280 in the whole of England. The Health Secretary has offered to consider requests from the Welsh Government to use alternate providers in England to reduce waiting lists and the distress that they bring.
With the Welsh Labour Government facing cuts to their NHS as a decision of their own, does the Minister not find it extraordinary that they are looking at spending £122 million on new politicians and £33 million on a blanket 20 mph speed limit that nobody voted for in Wales?
I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend. It is scandalous that the Labour Welsh Government are prioritising spending on more politicians in Cardiff Bay as well as an unpopular 20 mph default speed limit. Their decisions mean less funding for the NHS, education and other important devolved services. They have the potential instead to invest in important capital projects such as the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Rhyl. They must re-examine their agenda.
It gets worse: the UK Government have twice offered the Welsh Labour Government help in reducing patient waiting lists for important medical procedures, but neither offer has been taken up. Will my hon. Friend the Minister confirm that, in fact, that offer still stands and that patients in Wales who are stuck and suffering on waiting lists have not been forgotten by the UK Government?
Having spoken with the Department of Health and Social Care, I can confirm that the offer still stands. My hon. Friend will find it of interest to know that the Labour Welsh Government did write in response to the latest offer several weeks after that offer was made. Unfortunately, the Minister did not confirm whether they would accept the offer. In the interests of tens of thousands of patients, I strongly encourage them to do so.