Wales NHS: Miliband 'terrified' of 'failure', Cameron says

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Media captionEd Miliband said the Tories should stop 'smearing' the NHS in Wales and start saving it in England

Prime Minister David Cameron has said Ed Miliband is "totally terrified" of Labour's Welsh NHS "failure".

The Labour leader accused Mr Cameron of "smearing the NHS in Wales".

The exchange, at Prime Minister's Questions, follows UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt's claim that patients in Wales get a "second-class" service.

Meanwhile, First Minister Carwyn Jones claimed Tories were treating people in Wales like "collateral damage" in the row over health.

'Total disaster'

In the Commons, the prime minister told Mr Miliband: "What we've seen is he is totally terrified of Labour's failures in Wales on the NHS."

Mr Cameron said the English NHS was treating 1.3m more outpatients across six million appointments, seen by thousands of additional doctors and nurses.

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Media captionThe Daily Mail's Andrew Pierce said the paper was doing its job by reporting the issue and challenging the Welsh government

"Why? Because we invested in the NHS, they cut the NHS in Wales," he told MPs.

Mr Miliband responded: "Instead of smearing the NHS in Wales, you should be saving the NHS in England."

He said the Conservatives' "top-down reorganisation" of the NHS in England was a "total disaster".

First Minister Carwyn Jones said Wales was "in the firing line" over health, with neither Scotland nor Northern Ireland being attacked by the UK government.

"It's entirely to do with politics and nothing else," he said on Wednesday.

"I think they see the people of Wales as collateral damage in their own little battle."

'Tissue of lies'

The latest political row over the Welsh NHS broke out on Monday following claims by the Daily Mail the NHS in Wales was in "meltdown".

It developed into a war of words between the Welsh and UK health ministers in a terse exchange of letters.

Mr Drakeford accused the Conservatives on Tuesday of telling a "tissue of lies" about the state of the Welsh NHS.

Image caption The row has sparked a war of words between Mark Drakeford and Jeremy Hunt

He also accused Mr Hunt of intending to "quote selectively" from a planned review of NHS services across the UK by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The survey has been commissioned to compare the health services of the four UK nations and is scheduled for release in February 2015.

Mr Drakeford wrote to Mr Hunt saying the Welsh government might consider commissioning its own report from the OECD instead, unless Mr Hunt ended his "attempts to subvert the process".

But Mr Hunt said the findings of the OECD should not be withheld from the public.

"I believe we owe it to taxpayers who fund the NHS to show we are willing to learn from other parts of the UK as to where our performance can be improved," he wrote in reply to Mr Drakeford.

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams also criticised Mr Hunt for suggesting English hospitals were not paid for treating Welsh patients.

"Having Welsh patients treated at The County Hospital (in Hereford) helps maintain the services there by contributing significantly to the critical mass of patients needed to sustain a hospital of the County's size," she added.

Waiting lists

On Wednesday, the Daily Mail said patients in Wales were dying waiting for treatment, and claimed nearly 1,400 patients in Wales waited at least a year for an operation, compared to under 600 in England.

In response, the Welsh government said the number of patients waiting more than a year for treatment had fallen by 90% since 2000.

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Media captionTina Donnelly says she is 'extremely disappointed' by the row

However, the paper's consultant editor Andrew Pierce said the state of the NHS in Wales was "shocking" and it was doing its job by challenging the Welsh government on the issue.

Meanwhile, Tina Donnelly, director of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, said having politicians "scaremonger" about the standard of service within the NHS in Wales was "not wanted".

The Welsh NHS Confederation asked for a "sense of perspective", saying a "significant majority" of patients received good care.

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