Concern At Cross-Border Health Services

Patients and politicians in Wales have voiced concern about devolution eroding the shared use of public services such as health with England.

A committee of MPs is looking into cross-border services, which also include transport and education.

One mid Wales man who has long used an artificial limb service in Hereford has been told to go to Wrexham or Cardiff.

The Welsh Assembly Government said it would respond to the Commons select committee report when appropriate.

Edward Narborough, who lives in Rhayader, Powys, is a diabetic with an amputated leg who has been attending the artificial limb clinic in Hereford since 2000.

However, going to Wrexham or Cardiff will mean he has to travel much further than if he had continued to use the Hereford service.

“I have now been told there is no longer funding available and that they cannot continue my care,” he told the BBC’s Politics Show in Wales.

“If this is just the thin end of the wedge that there is no funding available for my artificial limb service does it mean that cross-border services are going to disappear altogether for Welsh patients who live in the border area?”

Brecon and Radnorshire MP Roger Williams said: “There doesn’t seem to be very good co-ordination between Wales and England as far as health is concerned.”

On Mr Narborough’s case, the Liberal Democrat MP said: “He will have to deal with new people and re-establish himself and that’s so inconvenient for him”.

Conservative Clwyd West MP David Jones said until recently patients from England were having cochlear implants in Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan, while patients from Wales were refused the treatment because of funding problems.

“There are issues that do concern the people of Wales,” Mr Jones said.

“They can’t understand why devolution, which was actually supposed to make things better for them, in is many cases, making things worse for them, particularly in healthcare provision.”

But Christine Russell, the Labour MP for Chester, said she thought there was “some truth in the argument that English patients were actually subsidising Welsh patients”.

But she said: “I have no absolutely objection to patients who live in Wales actually being treated at the Countess of Chester Hospital – it is their local hospital.”

But she said the reality was that 20% and perhaps even more of its beds were occupied by patients from the Welsh side of the border.

Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy said the NHS, a UK-wide service, should not be affected by cross-border issues.

Wrexham Labour MP Ian Lucas said many of his constituents were also affected.

“The NHS should treat people on an basis of need, not geography,” he said.

“Certain services should be delivered to UK citizens in whatever part of the UK they live.”