Thursday, 11 September 2008

Seconds out: Round 2

The English Health Minister who managed to wind up half the Welsh Assembly Government earlier this year has returned to his theme with comments that threaten to re-open a row between Cardiff Bay and Westminster.

Ben Bradshaw told a conference in London this morning that the NHS in England is delivering a better service despite spending less per patient than in Wales.

He said he was "fed up" being told that England suffered from health apartheid "because millionaires in Wales get their prescriptions free or Scotland plans to allow anyone who wants to park in busy hospital car parks for free.

"What about the fact that in England you can get your operation much more quickly, you don't have to wait for more than four hours in A and E any more and it is easy to see a GP when you want?

"These things matter more to the public. We are already delivering them in England and we have been doing so while spending less per head on health than in Scotland and Wales."

Mr Bradshaw's remarks - scripted, not off-the-cuff - were made during his keynote speech to a CBI conference on health.

Earlier this year, Mr Bradshaw sparked a row between the Assembly and UK Governments by saying the money spent on free parking would be better spent on improving patient care.

That prompted Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy to have a quiet word with Mr Bradshaw's boss, Alan Johnson - and was followed by a period of diplomacy on the Health Minister's part.

Welsh Assembly Government Ministers, who were re-assured Mr Bradshaw's views were not official UK Government policy, will doubtless be thrilled to learn of his latest outburst.

3PM update: WAG have released their statement"Devolved Government means that each administration is free to pursue its own priorities. Mr Bradshaw is entitled to his views. Free prescriptions and parking reforms have been widely welcomed by patients in Wales. We are putting the patient first and removing barriers to accessing healthcare. We see prescription and car parking charges as a tax on the sick. Investment in improving access to healthcare will improve the health and well-being of the people of Wales."

1 comment:

little red rooster said...

Hopefully Mr Bradshaw doesn't have to spend four hours in A&E waiting for a Welsh Labour boot to be extricated from his ar$e.