It has recently been revealed that the Welsh Labour Government delayed a major national inquiry into the state of the NHS in Wales until after the next general election, despite news this month that a large number of “cancer refugees” are now crossing the border into England in order to receive the treatment their condition requires- as many as 15,450 cancer patients did just this last year, a number up 400% in just a decade.
First Minister Carwyn Jones strongly denies allegations that the Welsh NHS is in a worse state than the English NHS, despite concerns expressed by Westminster Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt over the last-minute cancellation of the planned visit from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. This planned visit by the OECD was intended to be part of a comparative enquiry carried out by an independent body to assess the quality of the NHS’ services in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
Jeremy Hunt recently told the Commons that for every one English patient treated in a Welsh hospital, 5 Welsh patients are treated in England, meaning that the English NHS should be compensated for bearing the extra costs. Jeremy Hunt even went so far as to day that Welsh patients only have access to a “second-class health service” in their nation.
This has now caused a rift between London and Cardiff, with Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford accusing the Conservatives of telling lies in regard to the Welsh NHS, in order to score political points. Mr Drakeford added that the four Home Nations would be better off working together to combat threats from diseases like Ebola, rather than fighting among themselves.
Of course, patients themselves will be growing increasingly frustrated with politicians’ infighting. To make matters worse, the Welsh government also angered the unions by refusing a pay rise, instead offering workers just £160 each. As a result, UNISON members have voted to strike, placing care in Welsh hospitals in further danger. The crucial matter for the health service in Wales is in treating its patients rapidly, effectively, and with due care. However, in many cases, it appears that the Welsh NHS is letting the Welsh people down, which has led to an ever-increasing amount of people travelling to England for their healthcare.