Wales politics

David Cameron attacks Labour's handling of NHS Wales

David Cameron
Image caption David Cameron said Welsh Labour had cut NHS spending

Prime Minister David Cameron has launched an attack on Labour's handling of the health service in Wales.

Mr Cameron said people were waiting longer for operations and accused the Welsh government of cutting funding.

He made the claim while defending reforms of the NHS in England - plans which the Welsh government said were a "complete and utter shambles".

The Welsh government said the prime minister's figures were "totally wrong".

At question time in the Commons on Wednesday, Mr Cameron said the NHS in Wales showed what happens "when you don't put the money in and don't do the reform".

He said a third of people were waiting longer than 18 weeks for NHS operations in Wales. The Welsh government said at the end of November the figure was 22%.

'No money'

The Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, Alun Michael, said the UK government should abandon the Health and Social Care Bill which returns to the Lords on Wednesday.

"I tell you what needs to be abandoned, that's Labour's approach to the NHS in Wales," Mr Cameron replied.

He accused the Welsh government of cutting health spending by £400m - a 6.5% cut - and said 27% of people in Wales wait more than six weeks for diagnostic services, compared to 1% in England.

"That is what you get if you get Labour: no money, no reform, no good health services."

The Welsh government said 18% of Welsh patients were waiting more than six weeks for direct access to diagnostics.

Downing Street said the prime minister's figures came from the Welsh government's statistics website.

The waiting lists he cited cover the number of people treated during last November, whereas the Welsh government's response is based on the number of people waiting for treatment at the end of the month.

A spokesman for Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said: "The prime minister got his facts about Wales totally wrong.

"He is clearly rattled by the onslaught on his NHS reforms in England - reforms which are in a complete and utter shambles.

'Making a mess'

"With GPs, the BMA, nurses, midwives and trades unions and even some in his own party lining up to slam his proposals, it begs the question, does the name 'Custer' mean anything to the prime minister?

"By contrast the Welsh government is proud to have a mandate from the people to run the health service - something the prime minister doesn't enjoy."

First Minister Carwyn Jones has previously accused the Westminster coalition of making a "mess" of the health service in England.

At more than £6b a year, health and social services is the biggest item of expenditure in the Welsh government's budget.

Spending is projected to rise over the next two years, but will not keep pace with inflation.

The Welsh Conservatives accused Ms Griffiths of failing to accept statistics that were "there for all to see on the government's own website".

Later on Wednesday, Mr Michael tried to raise a point of order in the House of Commons to ask whether Mr Cameron had requested an opportunity to correct "inaccurate" answers given, he claimed, during Prime Minister's Questions.

Mr Michael argued Mr Cameron should return to face MPs and correct his statements, but deputy speaker Dawn Primarolo ruled that it wasn't "strictly speaking, a point of order".

Update 15 October 2012: The headline used when this story appeared on website indexes at the time of publication has been changed following a ruling by the BBC Trust.

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