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Bishops question health care after devolution: CEN 3.14.08 p 5. March 13, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church in Wales, Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS, House of Lords.

The Bishop of Monmouth has criticized the Welsh Assembly for placing politics above good medicine. Bishop Dominic Walker told the Welsh Affairs committee in Parliament last week that the Assembly’s policy of providing all services to Welsh patients in Wales ran “counter to its policy of putting patients first”.

The problems arise with border issues when the ideologies seem to get in the way of the practicalities,” he said.

Joined by the Bishop of Hereford, the Rt. Rev. Anthony Priddis, on March 4 Bishop Walker urged the government to rethink the planned rationalization of health services.

In a statement to the committee Bishop Priddis said, “While reconfiguration of hospital services has been mooted in North Wales, it is hard to see how that could ever be achieved given the rural geography and population distribution served by Wrexham District General Hospital along with the other hospitals along the border.”

Under plans currently under review by the NHS neurosurgery patients in Liverpool would now have to travel to Swansea for care, while Welsh patients in England would find problems with their prescriptions.

“There is currently no prescription charge in Wales,” Bishop Priddis said, “but if someone living in Wales receives a prescription written by a doctor or dentist working in England, then they do have to pay at a Welsh or English pharmacy.

“The situation can result in Welsh patients who are seen in the emergency department of an English hospital decline a prescription that is then written for them because they want it written by their own Welsh GP, so as to avoid a prescription charge. This adds to everyone’s time and other costs,” he noted.

Both bishops urged the government to review the disparities in health care coverage on either side of the border, arguing it was unnecessary and ill-advised to foster incompatible health care systems between the regions.


The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt. Rev. Anthony Priddis

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