10 July 2008
Committee Media Officer: Rebecca Jones
tel: 020 7219 5693
Press Notice No 24
WELSH-ENGLISH BORDER MUST NOT HINDER ACCESS TO HIGH QUALITY HEALTH SERVICES, SAY MPS
The Welsh Affairs Committee today sets out key criteria to which the health policies of the Department of Health and the Welsh Assembly Government ought to aspire in order to meet the needs and expectations of cross-border health service users.
In its interim report, The provision of cross-border health services for Wales, published today the Committee emphasises the importance for Welsh and English patients of access to high quality health services regardless of the border. The interim report recommends that:
policy makers should accept the importance for patients of clinical excellence as close to home as possible and make the necessary funding arrangements
policy developed within one jurisdiction should not have unintended consequences for patients in another
more is done to ensure citizens have clear avenues for engagement in health service development, regardless of where they live
Patients and clinicians must be reassured that different funding and administrative arrangements pursued by the Department of Health and the Welsh Assembly Government do not represent a barrier to the provision of healthcare. The report notes the concerns expressed in evidence to the Committee about divergence in waiting times and urges both administrations to work together to continue to drive down waiting times for Welsh and English patients.
The report calls for greater clarity for patients and clinicians regarding the administration of cross-border performance targets and says that elective treatment decisions for Welsh and English patients must be based on clinical need as opposed to funding.
The Department of Health, Welsh Assembly Government and health service providers must address immediately the suggestions that the English NHS is subsidising the Welsh NHS and that Welsh patients perceive that they are being treated as second-class citizens within the NHS. Cross-border financial conflicts must achieve a sustainable resolution through continued cooperation between the two administrations.
Establishing a permanent protocol on commissioning and funding of cross-border health services would provide greater assurance and clarity to patients and would address funding and commissioning tensions. Any future protocol should provide sustainable solutions and be widely consulted on. The report also suggests that bilateral ministerial meetings between the Department of Health and the Welsh Assembly Government should be announced and the nature of all discussions be made public and transparent.
The Chairman of the Welsh Affairs Committee, Dr Hywel Francis MP, said:
“Our aim in publishing this interim report is to contribute constructively to current discussions which relate to our inquiry. There are issues in this interim report which we will comment on more fully once we publish our full report in the Autumn. However, we felt it vital at this time to highlight certain issues which have come to our attention and to publish our suggestions for key criteria for health policy for the Department of Health and the Welsh Assembly Government, which we hope will be welcomed.
“The heart of the matter is that Welsh and English patients living close to the border must have access to excellent services as close to their homes as possible, and that the border is not regarded as a barrier in terms of access for these patients. It is essential that all patients are, and believe that they are, treated equally and receive the best possible care.“
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Committee Membership is as follows: Dr Hywel Francis MP (Chairman), David T. C. Davies MP, Nia Griffith MP, Mrs Siân C. James MP, Mr David Jones MP, Mr Martyn Jones MP, Rt Hon Alun Michael MP, Albert Owen MP, Mr Mark Pritchard MP, Mr Hywel Williams MP, Mark Williams MP
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