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Former health chief calls for Tory apology over 'failing' NHS

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: April 17, 2014

Tony Beddow, former chief executive of West Glamorgan Health Authority has called for an apology after Prime Minister David Cameron described Offa's Dyke as the 'line between life and death'

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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.

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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 £1,900 per person compared with the North East of England, which is similar to Wales in terms of "need" which gets £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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  • mdcurran  |  April 18 2014, 8:35PM

    Every mainstream politiician from whatever party goes "on record" to make some kind of statement. Cameron's was obviously about the fact that the Principality is run by Labour. I have been a voter for nearly forty years, and unfortunately it's made no difference to my lifestyle whoever runs this once great empire. The NHS is in dire straits, and the only politician who can turn it around is the one who can face up to banning private medicine during weekdays. But I doubt this will ever be the case - no matter who is in power!

  • Gwyddno  |  April 17 2014, 9:07PM

    mdcurran: If you think that what Cameron is on record for saying isn't about politics, please expand.

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  • mdcurran  |  April 17 2014, 8:48PM

    Lets be even clearer about this, Gwyddno. It's nothing to do with poltics. It ain't rocket science either! The 'private sector' has been here during both Tory and Labour regimes. It's all about money - and if medical professionals can make more money through patients 'going privately', they will. We need to curb this practice. A simple solution is to limit 'private' surgery to weekend working. This must be possible, because they are never seen on the wards on weekends!

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  • Gwyddno  |  April 17 2014, 2:15PM

    NewYearGirl: Let's be clear about this, Cameron stated that the border between Wales and England marks the difference between life and death. A recent report about the health authorities in the UK states that there is very little difference in the performance of the trusts in Wales and England. If you want to believe Cameron go ahead but, in this instance and many others, I think that our current Prime Minister and his bunch of ideologically barking cabinet members are misleading the public on a grand scale. It is the Tories and their LibDem clingons, who are to blame for all of the cuts. Also, the Tories and LibDems are to selling off as much as they can to their friends in the private sector.

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  • NewYearGirl  |  April 17 2014, 10:01AM

    The health service in Wales is deteriorating, the Welsh Assembly etc are sticking their heads in the sand, there are many "old school" nurses past & present who can tell them of serious problems but nobody listens & they will be victimised, ask patients desperately waiting for appointments or treatment for serious conditions and the performance they have to go through to get treatment for pain, I should know I am one of them