31 March 2014
Jesse presses Secretary of State on access to English NHS services

Hereford and South Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman pressed the Secretary of State for Wales last week once again over fair access to English NHS Services for people living near the Welsh border.

Under current NHS Wales rules, patients registered with a Welsh GP must use Welsh NHS services -- even if they live in England. Parliamentary questions tabled by Jesse last year revealed that 20,627 people living in England are registered with Welsh GPs. Over 3,500 of these people live in Herefordshire. Many have no choice but to register with a Welsh GP, as their area is not covered by a surgery in England.

In last week’s Wales questions, Jesse asked the Secretary of State what he was doing to secure a cross border agreement that was fairer for people living in England. The Secretary of State agreed with Jesse that the current agreement "needed to be made fit for purpose", and stated that he was actively working with the Department of Health to achieve this.

Speaking afterwards, Jesse said:

“People who live in England should be able to access the hospital of their choice, not the hospital that best suits NHS Wales. Under the current system over 3,500 of my constituents along the border are being denied access to hospitals in England.

“This is bad for patients, for many of whom Hereford is the closest and preferred hospital. And it is bad for Hereford Hospital, which relies on revenue from patients from Wales.

“Last June, I secured an Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons about this important issue. Responding to the debate, the Minister for Public Health agreed with me about the unfairness of the situation and said she would order a review of the cross-border NHS treatment. But so far the Welsh NHS has refused to agree the long-term changes my constituents need.

“Frankly, the Welsh NHS is behaving scandalously. I will continue to press this issue until all my constituents have the right to choose the hospital where they are to be treated.”