Thursday, December 28, 2006

Less NHS Spending in Wales

Just back from the BBC studio in Newtown where I did an interview with Gary Owen on Post Cynta about NHS spending in Wales. Parliamentary answers to Conservative questions at Westminster show that less money per head is being spent on healthcare in Wales than England, Scotland or Northern Ireland - reversing the position that existed before 2001/2002 when Wales spent more per head than either England or Northern Ireland. In 1997, £60 per head more was being spent on healthcare in Wales than England and £90 more per head than in Northern Ireland. Last year, £80 less per head was being spent on healthcare in Wales than England and £130 less in Northern Ireland. Scotland was and remains the highest spending Country in the UK.

"I was really surprised to learn how much less money per head is being invested in the NHS in Wales than in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland. Wales has dropped from 2nd place to last place in the UK spending per head league over the last 4 years. Now, we know why the NHS in Wales has been falling behind other UK countries - and why waiting times and waiting lists are so much longer in Wales.

The Assembly budget has just been set for next year, so the position cannot be put right immediately. But a higher priority and more money will have to be invested in the NHS in Wales when the Assembly decides on its budget in 12 months time.

It is just not acceptable that Welsh patients should be so disadvantaged, when compared with patients over the border in England. The 'NHS investment gap' between England and Wales must be closed. This will be a major challenge for whichever party or parties take over the Government of Wales from next May".

I really enjoyed this morning's interview. It was the first time that Gary Owen made no allowance at all for the inadaquacy of my ability to speak Welsh. He just went for it. I do not think I can any longer describe myself as a Welsh Language 'learner'.

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