The Labour-run NHS in Wales is falling behind its English counterpart in almost every measure, detailed research by the House of Commons library shows.
The figures demonstrate that not only do patients in Wales wait far longer for tests and treatments than those in England but they have to wait longer for an ambulance and will face longer waiting times in Accident and Emergency, the Daily Mail reports.
And alarmingly, the party which has sought to be the “party of the NHS” – with Ed Miliband hoping to convince voters that only Labour can be trusted to run the health service – has let down cancer sufferers the most: the target for treating cancer cases referred to oncologists by GPs has not been met since the middle of 2008.
Back in August, senior Labour officials reported that Mr Miliband would put healthcare at the centre of his general election campaign to try to capitalise on concerns voters had about funding, treatment availability and accusations of privatisation thrown at other parties.
But despite the damning evidence, Labour has rejected the figures saying it was ‘misleading’ for the Commons Library to make comparisons about the two health services.
The data showed there has been a fall in the number of calls for medical emergencies in Wales, yet the response time for emergencies – where with heart attacks or catastrophic bleeds minutes can make all the difference between life and death – has worsened.
And it’s no better for patients self presenting at emergency facilities with the number of patients waiting for more than the four-hour target time for treatment double that of NHS England.
The Welsh Labour party have often used the ‘free’ prescription service for all to champion the better service patients receive under their administration. But Andrew RT Davies, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, said the report confirmed his “worse fears and lays bare the devastating consequences of Labour cuts to the NHS.”
Mr Miliband has sought to ring fence the NHS budget from any potential cuts should Labour come to power in May. However the reports highlight funding cuts of £300million in real terms in 2012/13.
NHS spending rose sharply in 1999 without any corresponding significant increases in treatment times, life expectancy or survival rates.
Mr Davies continued, “On almost every measure Welsh patients receive an inferior service when compared to patients across the border, and having run the Welsh NHS since 1999, Labour must take full responsibility for their appalling management of the health service.”
Famously, in 1997 then leader Tony Blair told the country ‘We have 14 days to save the NHS’, repeating his soundbite 24 hours before polling.
In England, 93 per cent of patients have been on a waiting list for hospital treatment compared to 72 per cent in Wales.
Figures gathered for August of this year showed that 94 per cent of patients had waited less than the maximum 18 weeks time from referral to consultant-led treatment in England, compared to 66 per cent in Wales. Two months before, however, 32,500 people waited longer, missing the target and providing the worse figures for the NHS in six years.
However, Andy Burnham the shadow health secretary responded to the news saying: “Under David Cameron, people are seeing a return to that old Tory choice of suffering in silence or paying to go private,” adding “The Prime Minister promised to keep NHS waiting times down but these figures show he has failed the yes he set himself.”
Yet on the release of this information, the only response a Welsh government spokesman could come up with was that the figures were “misleading”.
‘The report refers to a range of NHS performance data comparing England and Wales, even though numerous authoritative independent sources caution against such comparisons because of the differences in the way NHS performance is measured in England and in Wales.’