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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dogma trumps value for money

Anybody who wants to know why the Welsh Health Service is producing worse outcomes for patients than its sister service across the border despite spending more per head, need look no further than this news article.

The Western Mail reports that cash-strapped health chiefs in the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board plan to spend £1.5m to create a new IVF clinic and laboratories after cancelling a contract with the privately-run London Women’s Clinic, based at Singleton Hospital in Swansea, where it has been providing IVF cycles for NHS patients up to the present day.

The new facility at Neath Port Talbot Hospital clinic will closely resemble the set up at the IVF Wales service in Cardiff, 35 miles away and will be operational in just 15 months’ time.

The University Health Board will have to find the cost of this new facility despite needing to find an additional £3m in savings to balance its books this year. They have been told to do it because of a commitment in the Labour-Plaid One Wales agreement to end the use of the private sector to provide NHS services, including IVF.

It is no wonder that Welsh Liberal Democrats Leader, Kirsty Williams is incensed. She told the paper: that: “It makes no sense at all to spend such a large amount of money on a new IVF clinic when there is one already existing not far away.

“The Labour party is putting its dogmatic and irrational approach to private companies before actually deciding what is best for the patients.

“The NHS is already under immense pressure. Wales needs a government that is willing to put patients’ needs first, spending money wisely, rather than wasting money based on political dogma.”

Peter Bown-Simpkins, medical director of the London Women’s Clinic, added: “This is a monumental waste of money.

“There will be nothing for West Wales patients for the next 15 months, unless we are given a new contract, and then [when Neath Port Talbot opens] there will be a huge waiting list.

“All this is happening at a time when England is doing just the opposite and introducing more co-operation with the private sector if it means getting a better service.

“Not only will this new clinic cost £1.5m to set up but it will also cost a huge amount to run because of working hours, it will need two consultants, two embryologists and two or three nurses.”

This decision is bonkers. It is a complete waste of money.
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