Welsh NHS not for sale, says first minister

Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones has used his first press briefing following the Summer recess to launch a robust defence of the NHS in Wales.

Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones has used his first press briefing following the Summer recess to launch a robust defence of the NHS in Wales.

In the face of attacks from opponents in Wales as well as the ConDem coalition in Westminster about the way the NHS in Wales is run, the first minister told journalists:

“Later this week, the NHS Wales chief executive will publish his annual report, outlining how our NHS has performed over the last year.

“The opposition parties take every opportunity to denigrate the incredible work and dedication of the NHS staff across Wales. And if you listen to voices from Westminster you would think that the NHS in Wales is a worse place to receive care than England. Nothing could be further from the facts nor the truth.”

Outlining the differences between a Labour and ConDem run health service, he continued:

“These are the facts. We are not privatising the NHS in Wales – and never will.

“The great sell-off of NHS England is already well underway. Many NHS England services are now run by private companies, from radiology to GP clinics. For example, last year Virgin Care were awarded a £130m contract to run key services in Devon and £100m for services in Surrey.

“In England, some £60bn of the NHS budget is now in the hands of clinical commissioning groups run by GPs. In reality, GPs’ primary concern will remain the care of patients. The result of this is that commissioning will be carried out by private companies.

“It is not only the running of NHS England that is being privatised – but private companies are increasingly influencing service delivery.  For example, the Cancer Drugs Fund.”

Turning his attention to the performance of Accident and Emergency Units in Wales he explained:

“In Wales, during 2012-13, over half of patients attending A&E were either admitted, treated, discharged or transferred within two hours of arrival at an A&E department, and nine out of 10 within four hours – a 7.4 per cent improvement on the previous year.

“Compare this to England, where the four hour waiting time target was missed across the NHS in England from January to March, with more than 300,000 patients waiting longer than they should have – a 39 per cent rise on the previous year.”

Meanwhile, “Tory cuts in England”, he said, “mean there are 4,500 fewer nurses in the health service than two years ago.

The first minister’s passionate defence of his government’s policies come following new polling data pointing to the overwhelming majority of people in Wales being happy with the care they receive.

According to the survey carried out by ICM for BBC Wales, 72 per cent said they had confidence that the NHS in Wales will provide them with a high standard of healthcare when they need it; 74 per cent expressed confidence that if they were admitted to an NHS hospital they would experience good and timely care, whilst 82 per cent said they were satisfied with the experiences they have had of treatment in the NHS.

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