Border crossings for Welsh heart patients


If you're waiting for heart surgery in south Wales, I don't suppose you're going to be that bothered about where that surgery eventually takes place.

In which case, Wednesday's confirmation from the Welsh government that three centres are being used in England could be very welcome.

After all, it's designed to speed up waiting times and deal with a lack of capacity during the winter.

But the problem again is how stories like this pose questions about the resilience of the Welsh NHS.

The context here is important on two levels.

Firstly, the context of the past 24 hours after the Royal College of Surgeons wrote to the Health Inspectorate Wales asking what action had been taken six months after it warned that patient safety was being put at risk during waits for heart operations in Cardiff and Swansea.

Accusations flying

And, of course, there's the wider context of political pressure on the Welsh government, typified by David Cameron's call for ministers to "get their act together".

We still haven't heard from the most senior doctor in England, Sir Bruce Keogh, after an email exchange with his Welsh counterpart, Chris Jones, was published last week in which he expressed concern at death rates in some Welsh hospitals.

The accusations were flying, including one that there had been some kind of cover-up.

The Welsh government said that was "utterly ridiculous" and that Sir Bruce and Chris Jones had met after the email exchange.

But we don't know whether Sir Bruce's concerns have been allayed.

In the meantime, there was an angry response from Health Minister Mark Drakeford who said he was "coldly furious" at what he considered to be a political attempt to drag the Welsh NHS through the mud.

The problem Mr Drakeford has is that while last week's email exchange and Wednesday's developments are being used by the Welsh government's political opponents, they originate from non-political medical sources like Sir Bruce Keogh and the Royal College of Surgeons.

Nick Servini Article written by Nick Servini Nick Servini Political editor, Wales

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  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    #29 Cont. But I do object to a business model where entrepreneurs take on business, pocket the profits from the successful cases and pass on any problems - without fee - to the public sector.
    #28 Let me ask you a question ? How many doctors, nurses, clinical scientists did BMI train in say the last 5 years ? Do they pay these staff pensions ? Or do they rely on the public sector doing that ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    2 8 "I asked the question of you earlier, "how many exactly, in any year, cause such an impact on our NHS".
    I don't have figures, but I do know, personally, of scheduled operations being cancelled because the intensive-care bed required to be available had been taken, as an emergency, by a post-surgical patient from a private hospital.
    I don't dispute the patient's right to a bed. TBC

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    ... #27, "Something like the building trade levy might be appropriate."

    I asked the question of you earlier, "how many exactly, in any year, cause such an impact on our NHS".

    And those that choose "private health care" also pay for the NHS in full through taxation (foreign excepted), so occasionally there's a problem ...

    ... does it make a difference ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    #25 They don't cherry pick ? Get cancer and see how long your insurance cover lasts. Check out what happens if a simple operation becomes less simple. Does your local BMI hospital have a high dependency unit ? Intensive care ? No ? Then complications go to the NHS. Has it ever trained any clinical staff ? Something like the building trade levy might be appropriate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    or is it Ieuan or Woodsey, similar arguments, grammar etc and use of stats to get to your POV, not independent stats.


Comments 5 of 30



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