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TMCNet:  Former health chief in call for Tory apology ; HEALTH [South Wales Evening Post (Wales)]

[April 17, 2014]

Former health chief in call for Tory apology ; HEALTH [South Wales Evening Post (Wales)]

(South Wales Evening Post (Wales) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) A FORMER NHS chief executive in Wales says Conservatives should apologise for describing the health service in Wales as failing, following an independent health report which concludes the NHS Wales compares well with the other UK health systems.

The study by health and social care researchers the Nuffield Trust, published last weekend, concluded that Wales has improved performance on a number of indicators, including reducing long hospital waiting times, shortening ambulance response times to immediately life-threatening emergency calls and in the quality of stroke care.

But it also found in waiting times in Wales have lengthened since 2010.

Tony Beddow, a Swansea-based former chief executive of West Glamorgan Health Authority, said Prime Minster David Cameron and health minister Jeremy Hunt should apologise to the House of Commons, after the former described the border between Wales and England as a 'line of death' because of the levels of service provided by the NHS in each country.

And he also accused Concervative Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns of failing to listen to the findings of the Nuffield Trust assessment, when interviewed on Radio Wales last week.

Mr Beddow said: "Mr Cairns was reduced to blustering that the massive failure of the Welsh NHS was all due to elective orthopaedic waiting times -- supposedly longer in Wales.

"He didn't want to hear that cancer care was better in Wales. He didn't want to debate the impact that the 1978 Barnett formula automatically has on reducing total expenditure in NHS Wales.

"As a result of the austerity agenda NHS Wales now operates on Pounds 1,900 per person compared with the North East of England, which is similar to Wales in terms of "need" which gets Pounds 2,100, or ten per cent more.

"And he couldn't admit that the cause of the problems in Mid Staffs were slashed nurse staffing levels as the Trust went hell- bent for Foundation Trust status - which doesn't operate in Wales.

"And what of that orthopaedic waiting time figure? ''Mr Cairns might be right that the reported figures show an average hip and knee operation waiting time in Wales of 170 days as opposed to 70 days in England, but reported figures do not necessarily indicate poorer treatment for real patients. First, English figures are not collected and reported on the same basis as Welsh ones." The Post approached Mr Cairns's office for a response, but it had not been received by the time of going to press.

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