Kirsty Williams: For Labour and the Tories, Welsh patients are just collateral damage in NHS War

rally kirsty williams 1Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams emailed Welsh members yesterday about the current war of words over the Welsh NHS. Here’s what she said:

You will have probably seen the stream of articles about the Welsh NHS in the Daily Mail last week. I wanted to write to you to put a few things straight.

There is no stronger critic of Labour’s catastrophic failings on health in Wales than me. Their appalling record speaks for itself: A&E targets that have never been met, the worst ambulance response times in the UK, the scandal of children with mental health issues being treated on adult wards… the list just goes on.

It’s clear that the Welsh Labour Government needs to be held to account for their mismanagement of our NHS.

What I will not accept, however, is the issue of cross-border care being dragged into this war of words. For many Welsh patients, the closest hospital to them is in England. Many of my own constituents use the County Hospital in Hereford. But all services used by Welsh patients are paid for by the Welsh NHS. In fact, patients from Wales are precisely what’s keeping many services at Hereford running.

Labelling these people as ‘refugees’ is a disgrace. I will not accept the Tories and the right-wing press using my constituents as a boot in this game of political football, and I’ve written to Jeremy Hunt telling him to stop.

Both Labour and the Tories are using this so-called ‘war’ for their own political convenience. For them, Welsh patients are just collateral damage. The Welsh Liberal Democrats refuse to let that happen. That’s why we need to sit down and have a sensible debate about the future of our health services.

I’m pleased that my plan for a Commission with staff, patient and cross-party representation has caught the attention of the Welsh Health Minister and I continue to discuss it with him. I will keep you updated on my progress.

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  • While politicians insist on politicising the NHS along party lines nothing will change to improve healthcare.

  • Eddie Sammon 28th Oct '14 - 6:23pm

    Good point about the closest hospital to many Welsh residents being in England.

  • These cross-border arguments would be magnified many-fold if enthusiasts for regional devolution got their way and the English NHS was split into 8, 9 or however many mini-NHS organisations.

  • Gwyn Williams 29th Oct '14 - 12:01pm

    At last sanity on the Welsh NHS. We live over 20 miles away from the border with England. Yet my father in law received his quadruple by pass in Liverpool Broadgreen. My neighbour after an horrific road accident was air lifted to Stoke Mandeville and is now in Gobowen Shropshire. Trying to provide all services in Wales is just not practicable. When Edwina Hart was Welsh Health minister she tried centralising hospital services within Wales. Brain surgery for North Wales was undertaken at Morriston , Swansea. I cannot fault the care that our school bus driver received when diagnosed with a brain tumour but carrying seriously ill patients by ambulance for 160 miles was crazy.

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