Patients wait an average of five weeks longer for NHS treatment under Labor in Wales than in England, official figures show.
The typical wait for care is around 19 weeks in Wales, but only 14 weeks in England, according to the latest available data.
The damning analysis is the latest comparison laying bare how the Labour-run NHS in Wales is disastrously falling behind.
The Mail reported yesterday how increasing numbers of Welsh patients are seeking care at English hospitals to ‘escape’ delays.
Some 39,485 patients sought elective treatment, such as hip and knee operations, in England in 2022/23, 39% more than the 28,405 in 2020/21 and 9% more than the 36,095 in 2021/22.
The Mail told yesterday how increasing numbers of Welsh patients are seeking care at English hospitals to ‘escape’ delays (Pictured: Royal Gwent Hospital)
Welsh health minister Eluned Morgan (pictured) said: “Of course we still have challenges, we’re still getting through the pandemic.”
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer (pictured) praised the Welsh government led by Mark Drakeford in March last year.
Responding to the new figures on longer waits, a Conservative source said: “Labour’s appalling record in running the NHS in Wales shows why they cannot be trusted with the NHS in England.”
‘Under Labour, people have to wait longer to get the care they need.
“England’s health secretary has already eliminated the longest waits and continues to work to reduce waiting lists and get people care even faster.”
The median wait for treatment after remission in England was 14.3 weeks in June, the most recent available month for which data are available.
This has been relatively stable in recent months, down from 14.6 weeks in January 2023, but slightly up from 14.1 weeks in May.
However, the median wait for treatment after remission in Wales was 19.1 weeks in May, the most recent available month for which data are available there.
Wales receives £1.20 for every pound spent on health in England but is still lagging behind in performance, Welsh Conservatives have said.
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer praised the Welsh government led by Mark Drakeford in March last year, saying it is “living proof of what Labor is like in power – how things can be done differently and better.” .
He added: ‘You show every day what a difference Labor really makes. A model of what Labor can do across the UK.’
Steve Barclay has written to Welsh and Scottish ministers to say he is “open to requests” for their patients to be treated on the NHS in England amid record waits for care in devolved nations.
The health secretary invited them to discuss what ‘lessons can be learned’ from the different approaches taken by each government.
In Wales, more than 73,000 patients wait more than 77 weeks (one and a half years) for treatment, but those waits have been virtually eliminated in England.
The figures also showed that 21 percent of the Welsh population was on an NHS waiting list earlier this year, almost double the 13 percent in England.
However, the Welsh health minister hit back at Mr Barclay yesterday, accusing him of an ‘overt political coup’.
Eluned Morgan told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme: “If it’s a free offer, I’ll take that offer.” But I guess it’s not. He added: ‘We count diagnostics and therapies in our statistics. None of them are counted in the English figures.
‘Of course we still have challenges, we are all still getting through the pandemic.
Steve Barclay has written to Welsh and Scottish ministers to say he is “open to requests” for his patients to be treated on the NHS in England.
Wes Streeting, Labour’s shadow health secretary, (pictured) suggested his party would expand the use of the private sector, arguing that this is ‘popular’ and ‘effective’
“We have waiting lists that are too long in Wales, but it’s a situation that’s not considerably better in England, with 7.5 million waiting there.” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made reducing hospital waiting lists one of his five key priorities after the number hit a record 7.57 million in England alone in June.
The issue is likely to be a key political battleground in the upcoming election, and the government wants to make the case that health services would not be better run by Labor or the SNP.
The Conservatives have pledged to make use of spare capacity at private hospitals to help clear backlogs in England, but Labor appears deeply divided on the issue.
Wes Streeting, the Labor Party’s shadow health secretary, suggested that his party would broaden the use of the private sector and argued that this is ‘popular’ and ‘effective’, in a position also echoed by Sir Keir.
But new research shows that five of the six members of the shadow health team in the House of Commons oppose this approach.
For example, Rosena Allin-Khan, the shadow cabinet mental health minister, has said she opposes “use of the private sector, which ultimately often disappoints patients.”
Andrew Gwynne, the shadow minister for public health, said we should ‘eliminate’ the use of private providers on the NHS.
And Ashley Dalton MP, parliamentary private secretary for health and social care, said there should be “no more” use of the private sector in the NHS and vowed she would support “ending privatisation”.
Only Liz Kendall can be found on the record offering a position similar to Mr Streeting, having previously said that “a role will be maintained for both the private and voluntary sectors” in the NHS.
A Conservative Party source said: “Workers are so divided on health that they cannot be trusted to care for patients.
“While they fight among themselves, this administration is relentlessly focused on addressing the backlog caused by the pandemic and reducing waiting lists.
“That includes using the independent sector to boost our efforts to make sure people get the treatment they need faster, while also ensuring the NHS remains free at point of use.”