Wait for five weeks longer for NHS treatment in Wales than in England
Patients wait for an average of five weeks longer for NHS treatment in Wales than they do in England, figures show
- Welsh patients have been seeking care in English hospitals to ‘escape’ the delays
Patients are waiting an average of five weeks longer for NHS treatment under Labour in Wales than they do in England, official figures show.
The typical wait for care is around 19 weeks in Wales but only 14 weeks in England, according to the latest available data.
The damning analysis is the latest comparison to lay bare how the Labour-run NHS in Wales is lagging disastrously behind.
The Mail told yesterday how soaring numbers of patients from Wales are seeking care in English hospitals to ‘escape’ the delays.
Some 39,485 patients sought elective treatment, such as hip and knee operations, in England in 2022/23 – up 39 per cent from 28,405 in 2020/21 and 9 per cent higher than the 36,095 in 2021/22.
The Mail told yesterday how soaring numbers of patients from Wales are seeking care in English hospitals to ‘escape’ the delays (Pictured: Royal Gwent Hospital)
Wales’ health minister Eluned Morgan (pictured) said: ‘Of course we are still challenged, we’re all still getting over the pandemic’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (pictured) praised the Welsh government run by Mark Drakeford in March last year
Responding to the new figures on longer waits, a Conservative source said: ‘Labour’s abysmal record running the NHS in Wales shows why they can’t be trusted with the NHS in England.
‘Under Labour people are made to wait longer for the care they need.
‘The health secretary in England has already eliminated the longest waits and is continuing to work to cut waiting lists and get care to people even faster.’
The median wait for treatment after referral in England was 14.3 weeks in June, the most recently available month for which data is available.
This has been relatively stable in recent months, down from 14.6 weeks in January 2023 but up slightly from 14.1 weeks in May.
However, the median wait for treatment after referral in Wales was 19.1 weeks in May, the most recently available month for which data is available there.
Wales receives £1.20 for every £1 spent on health in England but is still lagging behind in performance, said the Welsh Conservatives.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer praised the Welsh government run by Mark Drakeford in March last year, saying it is ‘living proof of what Labour in power looks like – how things can be done differently and better’.
He added: ‘You demonstrate daily the difference Labour really makes. A blueprint for what Labour can do across the UK.’
Steve Barclay has written to Welsh and Scottish ministers to say he is ‘open to requests’ for their patients to be treated on the NHS in England amid record waits for care in the devolved nations.
The health secretary invited them to discuss what ‘lessons can be learnt’ from the different approaches taken by each government.
In Wales, more than 73,000 patients are waiting over 77 weeks – a year and a half – for treatment but such waits have been virtually eliminated in England.
The figures also showed that 21 per cent of the Welsh population was on an NHS waiting list earlier this year – almost double the 13 per cent in England.
However, the Welsh health minister yesterday hit back at Mr. Barclay and accused him of a ‘naked political hit’.
Eluned Morgan told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme: ‘If it’s a free offer, I’ll be taking him up on that offer. But my guess is that it is not.’ She added: ‘We count in our statistics diagnostics and therapies. None of those are counted in the English figures.
‘Of course we are still challenged, we’re all still getting over the pandemic.
Steve Barclay has written to Welsh and Scottish ministers to say he is ‘open to requests’ for their patients to be treated on the NHS in England
Wes Streeting, Labour’s shadow health secretary, (pictured) has suggested that his party would expand the use of the private sector and argued that this is ‘popular’ and ‘effective’
‘We do have waiting lists that are too long in Wales, but it’s a situation that is not considerably better in England, with 7.5 million waiting there.’ Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made cutting hospital waiting lists one of his five key priorities after the figure hit a record 7.57million in England alone in June.
The issue is likely to be a key political battleground at the next election, and the Government is keen to argue health services would not be better managed under Labour or the SNP.
The Conservatives have vowed to make use of spare capacity in private hospitals to help clear the backlogs in England but Labour appears deeply split on the issue.
Wes Streeting, Labour’s shadow health secretary, has suggested that his party would expand the use of the private sector and argued that this is ‘popular’ and ‘effective’, in a position also echoed by Sir Keir.
But new research shows that five out of six of the shadow health team in the House of Commons are on record opposing this approach.
For example, Rosena Allin-Khan, the shadow cabinet minister for mental health, has said she is opposed to ‘use of the private sector, which ultimately often lets patients down’.
Andrew Gwynne, the shadow minister for public health, said that we should ‘sweep away’ the use of private providers in the NHS.
And Ashley Dalton MP, health and social care parliamentary private secretary, said there should be ‘no more’ use of the private sector in the NHS and pledged she would support ‘ending privatisation’.
Only Liz Kendall can be found on record offering a similar position to Mr Streeting, having previously said there will ‘remain a role for the private and voluntary sectors’ in the NHS.
A Conservative Party source said: ‘Labour is so divided on health they cannot be trusted to deliver for patients.
‘While they squabble among themselves, this government is relentlessly focused on tackling the backlog caused by the pandemic and cutting waiting lists.
‘That includes using the independent sector to turbocharge our efforts to make sure that people get the treatment they need more quickly, whilst always ensuring the NHS remains free at the point of use.’
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