Labour defends NHS in Wales from Tory claims of ‘crisis’

The Labour politician insisted that Wales was doing better than England in some areas, such as cancer care

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The minister for Health and Social Services on the Welsh Assembly has defended the Labour-run NHS service in Wales after claims by the Tories that it is in “crisis”.

Mark Drakeford told the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme that an independent report had found the health service in Wales was “careful, compassionate, and provides an excellent services for Welsh patients”.

The Labour politician insisted that Wales was doing better than England in some areas, such as cancer care, adding that the NHS was facing “real pressures” throughout Britain. And Mr Drakeford defended the decision in Wales to maintain the amount of money given to social services, while also planning to spend a further £425m on the Welsh NHS between now and 2016.

“In England, they have slashed and burned their way through social services departments – it’s why their hospitals are chock-full of people who ought to be discharged and there are no services for those people to go to,” he said.

However, in an article on the BBC News website, Darren Millar, the Tory shadow minister for health in Wales, said waiting times were too long, patients had limited access to cancer drugs and targets for A&E treatment had not been met for five year. He also pointed to a string of other problems as evidence of a health service “crisis”.

“The NHS itself is not at fault, nor will it ever be. It’s a national treasure,” he wrote.  “The blame lies with those sitting around the cabinet table in Cardiff – Welsh Government Labour ministers.

“By deciding not to protect that health funding, as ... in Tory-led England, Labour set in motion a chain of events that would heap untold pressure on frontline staff.”

Many Tories believe that highlighting the problems faced by the NHS in Wales could undermine Labour’s bid to position itself as the defender of the health service at the 2015 general election.

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