Following the news that Chester Hospital is refusing to take in Welsh patients on financial grounds, Jane Dodds is seeking reassurance over the rights of people in Wales to access services in English hospitals.
The Countess of Chester Hospital has announced that with immediate effect it will no longer take in Welsh patients, except for emergencies or maternity cases. Elective care – care which is planned in advance – will only be available if an appointment has already been booked.
In October 2018 the Chair of the trust which runs the hospital said it was “hard to countenance” treating Welsh patients.
Brecon and Radnorshire is a border constituency and much of its population relies on services in England. Given the developments in Chester Hospital, Jane is seeking reassurance over the wider issues of cross-border healthcare and the ability of Welsh patients to access services based in England. She has written to the Westminster Government’s Department of Health and Social Care.
Cross-border healthcare is operated through the commissioning of services, and NHS Wales and NHS England have agreed a joint ‘statement of values and principles’ in the interests of supporting better patient outcomes and avoiding the fragmentation of care.
Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Parliamentary Candidate for Brecon and Radnorshire, said:
“This appears to be an incident isolated to Chester Hospital, one which I hope is resolved through negotiations. I should stress that I’m not currently aware of any indications that services in other English border hospitals will be withdrawn.
“However, it would be understandable for anyone with an interest in cross-border healthcare to be concerned that an English hospital is turning away Welsh patients on financial grounds.
“People in Brecon and Radnorshire need to access hospitals in England. Many people rely on services in places such as Hereford and Shrewsbury, and may access more specialist care further afield.
“Given the circumstances, and given the decision has been made by a hospital in the English NHS, I hope the Westminster Government can provide strong reassurances that they remain committed to ensuring Welsh patients will continue to be able to access services in English hospitals.
“Governments and organisations in Wales and England need to work together to ensure the border isn’t a barrier that prevents people getting the care they need.”
Jane’s letter to the Westminster Government’s Department of Health and Social Care can be found here.
The Countess of Chester Hospital’s statement can be found here.
Information about cross-border healthcare arrangements can be found here, and the joint ‘statement of values and principles’ can be found here. A written statement on the issue by the Welsh Government in November 2018 can be found here.