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Welsh minister accuses UK Health Secretary of ‘naked political hit’ in NHS comparison

14 Aug 2023 3 minute read
Health and Social Services Minister Eluned Morgan.

The Welsh health minister has hit back at Steve Barclay and accused him of a “naked political hit”, after the Tory minister’s criticism of the nation’s waiting lists.

Eluned Morgan rejected the Health Secretary’s comments, after he said he would be “open to requests” for patients from Wales and Scotland to be treated on the NHS in England amid record waiting lists.

The Labour-run Welsh NHS has long been a target of Conservative attacks, as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak seeks to meet his pledge of cutting waiting lists.

According to the most recent NHS England data, 7.6 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of June.

Mr Barclay told the BBC on Monday: “In England we have virtually eliminated waits of over 18 months, whereas in Wales for example there are over 70,000 patients waiting more than 18 months.

“In fact, many of your listeners will be surprised to learn there are four times as many patients waiting over a year for treatment in Wales compared to in England.

“That is despite Keir Starmer saying that Wales is the blueprint for what they would do in England.”

Honest

But the Welsh minister for health said progress had been made in recent months to improve the NHS in Wales, adding that Cardiff was “far more honest with the public” over health service data than London.

According to the latest NHS data for Wales, there were approximately 748,400 “patient pathways” waiting for treatment in May. Wales and England measure NHS performance differently, making direct comparisons difficult.

Baroness Morgan told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme: “I think it’s just summer political fever time.

“They’re taking this opportunity to try to distract attention from the fact that they have 7.5 million people waiting on their waiting list. And the fact is we measure very, very differently.

“We count in our statistics diagnostics and therapies. None of those are counted in the English figures. Of course we are still challenged, we’re all still getting over the pandemic.

“We do have waiting lists that are too long in Wales, but it’s a situation that is not considerably better in England, with 7.5 million waiting there.”

She insisted that the so-called “8am bottleneck” was being tackled in Wales, with progress too in the use of community pharmacies and changes to NHS dental services.

The Labour politician was also sceptical of Mr Barclay’s offer for Welsh patients to be treated in England.

“If it’s a free offer, I’ll be taking him up on that offer. But my guess is that it is not.

“And the real question is where on earth would he find the capacity from in England, when he has got 7.5 million people waiting for treatment there?

“It’s a naked political hit in the middle of the silly season … He should concentrate on his job and I will concentrate on mine.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar also said that Mr Barclay should not be lecturing anyone on waiting lists.

“The idea that Steve Barclay will lecture anyone on how to destroy the NHS in England, or the fact that the SNP get a free ride from the mess that they’ve made here in Scotland, I think is for the birds,” he said on Monday.


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Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
8 months ago

For the Tories, the Welsh NHS is not so much a political football but a punchbag and either way, they are despicable for kicking or punching it. Barclay has 7.57 million people waiting for treatment in England and he’s talking about swelling that number by getting patients in from the neighbouring nations instead of GETTING ON WITH HIS OWN JOB!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
8 months ago

I would not give tuppence for either of them, the knuckledragger or the Baroness…

Rheinallt morgan
Rheinallt morgan
8 months ago

Large parts of Wales already rely on English hospitals because there are no Welsh hospitals where people live. That’s a disgrace that needs to be tackled.

Cat
Cat
8 months ago

Those of us who live on the borders whose nearest hospital is in England know what state the NHS in England is in and avoid it as far as we can. Far better for planned care to opt for Wales. For emergency care, so many services in smaller hospitals on the border are being closed due to lack of staff that a heart attack can mean 1.5 hours in an ambulance to get to a hospital that still has the resources to deal with you. Such a distance makes most Welsh hospitals a faster journey. All this is stuff and… Read more »

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
8 months ago

Here we go again. The same false accusations were made by the English Conservative party back in 2014 when David Cameron stated that the Welsh NHS was in turmoil and coined that infamous anti-Welsh slur about “Offa’s Dyke was the line between life & death”, when it was proven to be a barefaced lie after research by the Nutfield Trust showed at the time all NHSs in Britain were experiencing similar issues not just the Welsh NHS, as stated in another post recently. I think the sly Tories are doing this to mask their idiocratic misrule and management failures of… Read more »

riki
riki
8 months ago

the welsh nhs is a disaster. no other word for it.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
8 months ago
Reply to  riki

OK, what do you suggest?

Llyn
Llyn
8 months ago

Barclay’s comments are part of “NHS week” for this government and the Tory propaganda sheets. In something akin to what we used to see in Pravda. This morning the Daily Mail, Express and Telegraph all ran with this story and “internal” statistics (provided by the Tory Party) showing how many Welsh patients are using the NHS in England.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
8 months ago
Reply to  Llyn

That’s the problem, the actual truth doesn’t matter when the Tory press are going to report whatever propaganda the Tory party need.

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
8 months ago

Only half a story is Printed in the Tory right wing rags for a start Wales has a very large elderly population which includes thousands of Elderly people who have retired to Wales from England and a lot of our money for the N H S goes towards FREE PRESCRIPTIONS for us and for the retired English people living here Wales does not get any extra money for those people from the London government. Also Wales in the South Wales Valleys have people like me worked in the pits and are a Burden on our N H S London and… Read more »

Clive Bradley
Clive Bradley
8 months ago

The Llandrindod area has virtually no Hospitals and I had to travel to Hereford every time. We should be planning for less dependency on England and investing in more facilities in Wales

hdavies15
hdavies15
7 months ago
Reply to  Clive Bradley

Fair comment Clive but you are far from Cardiff Bay. Out of sight out of mind. Health is a political football for all the parties. They don’t really give a damn what happens in the more remote, badly served areas. To add to your pain the roads are awful, the trains almost non existent and public transport ( buses) is mythical. That’s life in the 21st century frontier town.

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