A dispute which has prevented hundreds of patients in Wales from being treated at an English hospital looks to have been resolved.
Last month it was revealed the Countess of Chester Hospital would no longer take in outpatients from over the border after officials said they were not being paid sufficiently to look after them.
The move sparked widespread anger, particularly in Flintshire where a large number of people are affected, and the situation was branded ‘unacceptable’ by Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething.
Mr Gething has issued a statement today confirming that a resolution has been agreed, he said: “As explained in the statement I issued on 11 April, regarding the unilateral decision taken by the Countess of Chester Hospital (CoCH) in relation to Welsh patients, engagement has continued at both Ministerial and official level with the UK Government to resolve the issue in the best interest of patients.
“I can now confirm that cross-border healthcare arrangements for 2019/20 have been agreed.
“My expectation is that the CoCH will honour the agreement reached and reverse the decision not to accept new elective referrals for Welsh patients.”
Mr Gething says he remains “disappointed” with the action taken by the CoCH whilst negotiations were ongoing.
“This was wholly avoidable and a transparent breach of the agreed protocol on cross border healthcare,” he added.
“What is evident is that changes introduced to the tariff costs in England since 2017 have created a complex set of issues in relation to cross border arrangements. Wales will now have a seat on the Tariff Advisory Group.
“My focus during the last month has been in resolving the issue and moving quickly to agree a solution in the best interest of patients. I am hopeful the agreement reached provides re- assurance to Welsh residents that depend on cross border healthcare arrangements.”
Commenting on the news that North Wales cross-border healthcare arrangements have been resolved, acting Welsh Conservative Health spokesperson, Darren Millar AM, said: “Although I’m delighted to hear that the UK Government has stepped in to help the patients of North Wales, it’s a great shame that it came to this.
“The Welsh Labour Government already received £1.20 to spend on patients for every £1 spent in England, but thanks to characteristic abysmal planning by the Health Minister, the correct rates were not paid for several years to the English hospitals propping up the Welsh NHS, and warnings to the government were ignored.
“Now that even more money will need to be provided by the UK Government for this financial year, Welsh Conservatives will be keeping a close eye on how the Welsh Government moves forward with this situation, holding it to account and ensuring patients are not left to suffer again thanks to its disastrous inability to plan ahead with our healthcare system.”
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