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UK Government’s Health Secretary ‘open to requests’ for Welsh and Scots patients to be treated in England

13 Aug 2023 3 minute read
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay. Photo Victoria Jones PA Images

Steve Barclay is “open to requests” for patients from Wales and Scotland nations to be treated on the NHS in England amid record waiting lists, the Department of Health has said.

The Health Secretary has invited Michael Matheson and Eluned Morgan, the Scottish and Welsh health ministers, to discuss what “lessons can be learnt” from varying approaches to the health service in different administrations.

He suggested he would consider appeals for people waiting for lengthy periods in Wales and Scotland to be treated by the NHS or independent providers in England.

Mr Matheson suggested the UK Government should focus on the “many issues south of the border”, while Labour’s Wes Streeting said the only advice the Tories are qualified to offer is how to “wreck” the NHS.

The Welsh Labour Government was also apparently unenthused by the offer, claiming its administration has “outperformed” England in major emergency department wait times.

Variations

In a press release, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said there are “significant variations” in NHS waiting times between the four UK nations.

“In Wales, more than 73,000 people are waiting over 77 weeks for treatment, and at least 21,600 people are waiting over 78 weeks for an outpatient, day case or inpatient appointment in Scotland,” it said.

“In England, waiting times for patients over 78 weeks have been virtually eliminated.”

Mr Barclay said: “I want to support collaboration between our nations to share best practices, improve transparency and provide better accountability for patients.

“This will help to ensure we are joined up when it comes to cutting waiting lists – one of the Government’s top five priorities – and will allow us to better work together to improve performance and get patients seen more quickly.”

Mr Matheson pointed to record waiting lists and ongoing strikes in England as examples of problems affecting the service south of the border.

“The NHS in England is about to experience its fifth round of strikes by junior doctors, with the waiting list for hospital treatment rising by over 100,000 to a record high of over 7.5 million as a result of the UK Government’s refusal to even get around the negotiating table,” he said.

“Rather than attempting to involve themselves in devolved areas, the UK Government would be well served focusing on tackling the many issues in the health service south of the border.

“In contrast, the Scottish Government has negotiated constructively and made significant commitments to our junior doctors – which is why we are the only part of the UK to have avoided strike action in our NHS this year.”

Outperformed

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Wales includes more referrals in its waiting times statistics than England does. Long waiting times are falling every month in Wales and have more than halved in the past year.

“The overall growth in waiting lists in Wales has been smaller in Wales than in England over the last 12 months – it grew by 3.6% in Wales and by 12.1% in England. Wales has also outperformed England in major emergency department performance in nine out of the last 10 months.

“In Wales patients are treated according to clinical urgency.”

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: “What’s next, the Conservatives offering advice on bringing mortgage costs down?

“The only advice the Tories are qualified to offer is how to wreck the NHS and cause the biggest strikes in its history.

“If they’ve given up governing, they should step aside so Labour can give Britain the fresh start it needs.”


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Frank
Frank
8 months ago

Expensive private consultations and surgery are taking priority with consultants and surgeons working for the NHS. Paying for surgery can whizz past the NHS waiting lists and can be performed in days rather than years. These medics need to be curbed and told to stop dragging their feet and get NHS waiting lists down first because that is what they are employed for. If they have the time to do four or five private proceedures in a day, twice a week, they can do it for the NHS first. I paid national insurance all my working life and now that… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
8 months ago
Reply to  Frank

Well summed up there Frank. This waiting list business is beginning to look like a pre-privatisation scam aimed at getting more people into a state where they are conditioned into paying for a service into which they have already made significant contributions, some of us for over 40 years! Apart from those NHS staff with a residual amount of ethics I begin to suspect that many medics at all levels and some senior nurses are salivating at the prospect of the money they dream of making by herding even more patients down the “private” corridor. Senior doctors in particular are… Read more »

Frank
Frank
8 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Thank you and ditto.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Frank

Part of the problem was the initial settlement with the medical profession at the inception of the NHS where Nye Beven ‘stuffed their mouths with gold’ in order to get the NHS accepted by the profession in principle, i.e. allowing private practice to continue. At the time the profession was a powerful lobby, and it would seem that Bevan’s tactic was the pragmatic one as opposed to a big struggle with the profession. Nowadays the situation is quite different, the medical profession obtained all its training at taxpayer’s expense as only the NHS offers the training required. One would hope… Read more »

The Original Mark
The Original Mark
8 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

It’s in the 101 book of privatisation, run service down to a point that the public loses trust and gets angry, then the superhero of privatisation is presented as the saviour of the day, Chomsky probably put it better than that?

Meirion Rees
Meirion Rees
8 months ago

The English waiting list claim is false, I for one have been on a hip replacement waiting list since Oct 21! This is just a political stunt rather than any attempt to tackle the fundamental problems of the English NHS which is in desperate straits, and being privatised to its death!

Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
8 months ago

independent providers” = Privatised Healthcare companies that are paving the way for full privatisation of the NHS. What we need is a fairer settlement with Westminster in regard to how much funding the Senedd has access to…

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
8 months ago

A clear attempt to undermine devolution. Wales and Scotland are getting in the way of the Tory NHS destruction plan so whereas the usual UK government approach is to completely ignore the Welsh and Scottish governments, here we see a minister deployed to offer us a cup of poison and see if we’ll drink it in an attempt to level down so that the health service across the whole island is equally decimated along with erosion of our nations. Two birds with one stone. Irresistible.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
8 months ago

Today I heard Gypsy & Wales hating “Welsh” Secretary David TC Davies interviewed on LBC attacking all things Wales & Welsh. And besides parroting England’s Health Secretary offer of treatment even though 13 unbearable years of Tory rule has meant English NHS junior doctors striking over pay & conditions, English patients are pulling their own teeth out because they cannot find an NHS dentist thanks to their covert privatisation fond it ironic that a man who is allegedly Wales voice at the cabinet table uses his position to undermine. He also during his bilious BritNat bashing of Wales & devolution… Read more »

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
8 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Nicely done and just a little more about the false figures fraternity. I also heard TC this morning conveniently failing to mention that there are 7.57 million people in England waiting for treatment. He can keep his poxy percentages when this amount of people is more than DOUBLE the ENTIRE population of Cymru.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
8 months ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Indeed so. The Tories are all about falsehoods, misinformation and disinformation. Take the Bibby Stockholm barge fiasco as an example. Fascist Suella Braverman & Tories were quite content to infect asylum seekers with the deadly legionaries disease for political point scoring. She & they are below contempt! And today after listening to treacherous David TC Davies’s hypocrisy made my blood boil seeing NHS England is crumbling under Tory rule leading to their doctors & nurses striking and patients suffering delays in treatment. But does David TC Davies & English Health Secretary Steve Barclay’s offer extend to dentistry where in England… Read more »

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
8 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

You’re all over it my friend and Cairns is one who has played the ‘anti English’ card. Anyone who does that is finished with me.

Annibendod
Annibendod
8 months ago

All about the optics. We know their aim … fully centralized governance of the UK by our Westminster overlords. We also know the crisis they have precipitated in the NHS so a doubly odious play here. The real problem is that the UK State is a political vehicle for the ruling class of England to extend their economic hegemony over the peoples of Britain. It is no coincidence that the Toraidhes have presided over a mushrooming of the wealth of Billionaires, simultaneously driving public services into the ground with cuts and strangling the living standards of the working class these… Read more »

Llyn
Llyn
8 months ago

I would advise the Welsh Government to take Steve Barclay up on this offer and show this empty promise up for what it is – Tory click bait.

However, the NHS is an avenue that the Tories will use in the next election. With the continuing Tory imposed austerity I would also advise the WG to delay the expansion of the Senedd and prevent the Tories from being handed the open goal of campaigning on more nurses or politicians.

max wallis
max wallis
8 months ago

The Welsh Govt is in denial of the waiting list statistics reported by the BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-66488586.
Numbers surged during Covid with our more severe lockdowns than England, and are scarcely improving. The claim of month-by-month improvement was disproved by July’s figures.
The numbers will be impacted by the Junior Doctors’ strike (as have England’s) and the present refusal of more than 5% pay increase.
The Wales NHS is, sadly, a Labour failure. Stop playing politics, seize the offer of cross-border cooperation and try to get cash for innovative techniques for quick diagnosis and treatments.

Llyn
Llyn
8 months ago
Reply to  max wallis

Out of interest where is the evidence that Wales had “more severe lockdowns than England” during the COVID pandemic?

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
8 months ago
Reply to  max wallis

You don’t actually believe that this offer is serious do you?

Some1
Some1
8 months ago

How about a review of the funding model. It should be needs-based, not per-capita based on what England spends with a little guilt money thrown in. Wales has the oldest population in the UK, and it costs far more to look after older people. The current model is set up to fail.

Annibendod
Annibendod
8 months ago
Reply to  Some1

Let’s go a litte further. The socio-econo-political model upon which the UK is predicated comes with injustice and inequality built in. The manner by which Cymru’s budget is administered is one feature of this. The appropriate reform is to replace the entire damnable thing with something that works.

hdavies15
hdavies15
8 months ago
Reply to  Some1

Wales has the oldest population …. partly due to so many old Anglos coming here to spend their last years tapping into free presrciptions and any old free health care they can grab, …. and then go moan about it in the Daily Mail and other rags.

Annibendod
Annibendod
8 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Almost the same number of Welsh living in England. The real issue here is that Wales has a drain of workers on account of the unbalanced capitalist economic model of the Tory UK. Couple that with wealth imbalances that distort the housing market and we have a demographic hole in working age Welsh residence that costs Wales approximately £5.5Bn PA in lost GDP, a turnover of population and the degradation of culturally sensitive areas. Let’s not demonise ordinary people – people operate according to the conditions in which they find themselves. Since Cymru is not a Nation State, we need… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
8 months ago
Reply to  Annibendod

Same number maybe but they represent a far smaller % of the total population which is about 18 x bigger or more. Also very few Welsh go to England to live out their old age more of them go to work there because of the lopsided economy in which we exist. Not a like for like demographic at all.

karl
karl
8 months ago

Undermine us after defunding us, then chuck in their chums private businesses as a caring solution. Going for a double hit on devolution and our NHS. This is the brexit they wanted, to hell with anything but their nasty profiteering.

Annibendod
Annibendod
8 months ago
Reply to  karl

Angela Rayner used the correct noun wrt the Toraidhes.

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
8 months ago
Reply to  Annibendod

You mean the word she used calling the Tories SCUM not a truer word said also the Great Aneurin Bevan also called them Scum when they tried they hardest to stop the forming of the N H S

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
8 months ago

As we get closer to the General Election the attacks on Wales people in politics the N H S and individuals will get far worse from the far right newspapers who support the Scum party tories Daily Express Torygraph Times Beano known as the Sun and the worst of them all Daily Mail with its lies and Character assination all lies about people its already been said by Sunak he what dirt he can be dug up about Starmer they have already started and the T V news station that should be banned g b news

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
8 months ago

Yet another attempt by the tories to undermine devolution and the powers already devolved as well as the NHS. Barclay recruiting patients for private (independant) work in England. However it beats me how Consultants on a 40hr a week contract with the NHS find the time to do so much private work. Are they being paid twice for the same hours worked? In the end long waiting lists are in their best interests as they promote queue jumping with offers of private work at huge expense to desperately sick people. Exploitation surely?

Frank
Frank
8 months ago

I wonder if Steve Barclay consulted with NHS England before offering their services to Wales and Scotland. I would be willing to wager that they would not be very pleased with the extra workload on top of their 7.5m waiting list that he volunteering on their behalf. Of course, the intelligent ones amongst us know that Barclay’s offer is just an attempt to undermine the Welsh and Scottish NHS. Dear Mr. Barclay, please do not underestimate or insult our intelligence.

The Original Mark
The Original Mark
8 months ago

Yet another distraction from both the tories and Wes Streeting, don’t be fooled by Streeting, he’s just a bit too comfortable with independent health providers and has already parroted the tories on NHS pay rises and just like Blair he wants more independent health providers involved with the NHS, allowing them to leech millions out of the NHS.

Dewi
Dewi
8 months ago

It is my understanding that Welsh Health Boards are already purchasing specialised care from many English hospitals – Shrewsbury,Stoke,Gobwen,Liverpool and Chester to name a few. So this is already being done – where does this out of touch Westminster Minister live? .Perhaps like Nadine Dorries he has little grasp of his brief!

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