No Cameron, but Clegg sticks to PMQs script on NHS


David Cameron may have missed prime minister's questions as he travelled in the Middle East, but Nick Clegg stuck to the Cameron script when it comes to Wales.

The deputy prime minister tried to deflect a question about the NHS in England with a reference to the NHS in Wales. (This devolved issue has, according to the Guardian's Polly Toynbee, been raised 29 times by David Cameron at PMQs).

Answering a later question, Mr Clegg told the Commons that waits for diagnostic tests in Wales were longer than in England.

"In Wales, the NHS there run by Labour, 33 per cent of patients wait more than eight weeks to access diagnostic tests - 33 per cent, a third. In England, only just over one per cent of patients wait longer than six weeks for the same. I think the comparison speaks for itself."

He was responding to a question from the Monmouthshire Tory MP, David Davies, who said it was time to give patients in Wales the opportunity to access "far higher services" in the NHS in England. Mr Davies says that if Welsh patients want to be treated in England, the Welsh government should pay for them to be treated there. He would offer a reciprocal arrangement to patients from England who want to be treated by the Welsh NHS - with the UK government picking up the tab.

Mr Davies raised the case of a constituent, Mariana Robinson, who wants to be treated in England. He said she was "a victim of the Labour-run NHS in Wales" which offered, he said, longer waiting lists and less access to drugs.

Mr Clegg told him: "I was appalled about the experiences of one of your constituents."

Who can recall a time when the NHS in Wales has featured so consistently - and so prominently - at Westminster?

David Cornock Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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