Border Health Care

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 14th May 2014.

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Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Conservative, Forest of Dean 11:30 am, 14th May 2014

What discussions he has had with his Cabinet colleagues and Ministers of the Welsh Government on patient choice in health care on the Wales-England border.

Photo of David Jones David Jones The Secretary of State for Wales

Access to high-quality health care is an important issue for people across the UK, and particularly for those in the border areas. Following last week’s discussions on the matter in this House, I have written to the Secretary of State for Health and the First Minister urging swift action be taken to find a solution to the current difficulties.

Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Conservative, Forest of Dean

The Secretary of State will know that a number of my constituents—thousands, in fact—are forced to use the NHS in Wales. They will therefore be very concerned by the report published yesterday, “Trusted to care”, which shows serious failings in the treatment of frail older people at two Welsh hospitals. Even the Labour Minister said he was shocked. Do not the people of Wales and my constituents deserve better?

Photo of David Jones David Jones The Secretary of State for Wales

I think that Members across the House were equally shocked by the contents of the report. I am glad to see that the Welsh Minister of Health has taken some action on the matter, but I repeat that the Government are more than willing to offer our assistance, perhaps by commissioning a Keogh-style inquiry.

Photo of Ian Lucas Ian Lucas Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

The Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries at Gobowen provides the highest quality of care to patients from Wales with spinal injuries. They are concerned about the future of specialist services because of NHS reforms in England. Will the Secretary of State meet me to discuss the concerns expressed to me by my constituents?

Photo of David Jones David Jones The Secretary of State for Wales

I agree entirely that the Gobowen hospital is a world-renowned centre of excellence, and I am concerned about what the hon. Gentleman says. I am very happy to meet him and would be grateful if he would contact my office.

Photo of Mark Williams Mark Williams Liberal Democrat, Ceredigion

Access to cross-border health services is not restricted to the border areas, but access to specialist services is relevant to my constituents. The protocols are not working at the moment. In his discussions with Ministers, will the Secretary of State ensure that cross-border protocols are working for specialist services in particular?

Photo of David Jones David Jones The Secretary of State for Wales

My hon. Friend is entirely right. Key to this issue is the cross-border protocol. As a consequence of last week’s debate, I have written to both my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and the Welsh Health Minister, and we will see whether we can improve that protocol.