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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Welsh NHS worse than England says Labour MP

For all the bluster in the Welsh Assembly Chamber from Labour AMs about what is happening in the English NHS it has long been understood that outcomes in Wales are worse than those over the border. Now a Labour MP has come out and said it openly.

Cynon Valley MP, Ann Clwyd has obtained figures that show that patients in Wales are up to 140 times as likely to wait an unacceptably long time for potentially lifesaving tests as patients in England.

She found that in April this year nearly three times as many patients in Wales (30.8%) waited more than 18 weeks to be referred for treatment than in England (11.5%):

Also, the mean wait for principal procedures in Wales was 89 days in April, in comparison with 51 days in England.

Wales also performs worse than England at dealing with patients who attend accident and emergency units. Statistics obtained by Ms Clwyd show that in the period covering October to December 2009, 88.7% of those attending major A&E departments in Wales were admitted, transferred or discharged in less than four hours of arrival, compared with 96.8% in England.

By the period covering January to March this year, both countries had seen a decline in performance. Yet there was still a significant discrepancy between Wales (83.0) and England (91.1%).

The contrast is even starker for diagnostic waiting times. Across 11 diagnostic disciplines, there were vastly higher percentages of patients waiting more than six weeks to be diagnosed in Wales than in England. Such tests can be crucial in discovering whether people have life-threatening conditions like a weak heart and various kinds of cancer.

In the case of neurophysiology – diagnostic tests involving the nervous system – just 0.4% of patients in England wait more than six weeks in comparison with 56.3% of patients in Wales. Put another way, patients in Wales are 140 times more likely to wait more than six weeks for the test than those in England.

The Welsh Government's review of NHS finances over the summer recess period is going to have make major changes if we are to catch up with England.
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