The amount NHS Wales spends on cross-border healthcare has increased by 4% this year, Welsh Conservatives can reveal.
According to a freedom of information request (attached) - submitted by Janet Finch-Saunders AM, a Welsh Conservative Assembly Member for Aberconwy - between 2016 and 2017 health boards spent £9.749 million more on goods and services from non-Welsh NHS Wales Trusts than in the previous year.
Total spending in 2016-17 amounted to £254,557,000.
A Written Assembly Question (attached) has also revealed that the number of Welsh patients being treated in English hospitals for non-emergency care has steadily risen year-on-year from 44,606 in 2014/15 to 45,380 in 2015/16, and up again to 46,043 in 2016/17.
The data shows that some patients have been referred many hundreds of miles away, with 122 people being sent to Royal Cornwall Hospital, 14 people being referred to Pinderfields General Hospital in Yorkshire, and three to the University hospital of North Durham.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Secretary, Angela Burns AM, said:
“The growing reliance on goods and services across the border is a matter of great concern, and a sign of health boards struggling to cope with a rising demand.
“Most troubling of all is that some patients are having to travel hundreds of miles to places as far afield as Cornwall for their treatment. This is completely unacceptable – especially if you are elderly, disabled, or have limited means.
“The Welsh Labour administration needs to once and for all tackle the problem of under-recruitment and ensure that health boards are properly resourced so that patients can receive the right treatment when and where they need it.”
Janet Finch-Saunders AM said:
“It is deeply troubling that so many people in Wales are being failed by the Welsh Government and therefore have to seek treatment in England.
“People in Wales do not pay their taxes so the Welsh Government can send them often over a hundred miles away for care. They pay them in the expectation that their government provides them with timely and convenient treatment.
“If a patient from Conwy, in my constituency, has to have treatment in Chester – one of the hospitals most visited by Welsh residents – then they have to make a two-hour long journey, there and back. If taken with the length of treatment and time spent in the waiting room, it is possible that they will have had to take the day off work, potentially losing out on wages.
“The cost to patients and taxpayers cannot be underestimated.”