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BBC4 Any Answers from Wales

BBC4 Any Answers from Wales

Last week the BBC4 Any Questions programme was recorded in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons.

Inevitably some of the questions related to NHS provision in Wales and why the Welsh Government are resisting an independent report by OECD on the NHS across all four nations of the UK.

Since May last year I have had two addresses because for my particular needs the English NHS offers me a better range of treatments, drugs, and access to clinical trials. Many others in Wales are facing a similar prospect. I don't think it's reasonable that patients in the UK are having to go to these lengths to access a reasonable parity of healthcare so I had my say. (Slide the Sound Bar to No. 23)

5 Replies

You're so right, it shouldn't be a postcode lottery!



Well at least the English Government are trying to investigate the disparities in service and address them. Scotland and N Ireland don't seem to be involved in the row - it just seems to be Cardiff. Unfortunately there will always be regional differences because there are a limited number of big centres of excellence with the very latest techniques, surgery, access to clinical trials etc. but I find it heartening that in England there's a Constitution which states patients have a right to choose where they receive treatment. That's very positive because it's vital patients maximise their wellbeing by getting to the centre that best suits their needs. That might be a smaller, local one, or a big bustling centre. All depends on the patient's preference. xxxx


Could this be a human rights issue? The HRA says everyone should be treated fairly and equally, yet this is discrimination based upon where you live (or in certain cases the hospital you attend). It's similar in the health board area I am in - second line treatment is carboplatin & taxol, no mention of avastin. (Avastin is available for first line treatment.) Yet if you travel for an hour or so, you're at a world class centre for the treatment of ovarian cancer, where Avastin is available for first and second line.

I don't know whether women are routinely told that there is another treatment option, I suspect not. I know the local gynae cancer service is troubled. I simply do not understand why, with a centre of true excellence so close, they don't try to share expertise.

When you are dealing with cancer, the last thing you want to do is leave the comfort of home.

I have wondered about this for a while. Politicians tend to run a metaphorical mile when the HRA is mentioned. It might be worth talking to Liberty. Vx


Hi Kirsty, I really appreciate your thoughts. It does help to share them with people in other countries of the UK to get a sense of perspective and also useful feedback.

Some of us have thought there are human rights issues with a postcode health service and it's an issue which has been thrown at the N Irish Government which may be why they are looking at setting up a drugs fund.

To some extent I would imagine the problem of inequality of access applies across the UK with increasingly diverse health policies and especially regional differences within the largest NHS in England. Where England scores well on this matter is that it offers patients a choice as to where they receive their service though a friend who's a clinician says it doesn't apply to everyone and if a large centre of excellence can't provide any additional services than a local hospital it isn't easy to change. It would be interesting to hear from patients who've requested a change of centre.

Recent changes to the NCDF requires that the drug is prescribed by a consultant specialist specifically trained and accredited in the use of systemic anti-cancer therapy and I wondered whether this would have an impact on the smaller centres. You'd think if they can't prescribe it they would refer patients to a centre with appropriately qualified staff.

Now I have a year's experience of travelling 3 hours each way to hospital appointments, and sometimes I have one or more each week, I agree with you that travel is the last thing cancer patients want to do. You can imagine with the recent media furore on the Welsh NHS where even respectable newspapers and programmes are listing the number and breadth of complaints it is genuinely frightening for the people of Wales.

What really makes me feel ill is the denial and ducking by Welsh Ministers. To my mind they already have blood on their hands because they have consistently ignored warnings from professional bodies and whistleblowers and people have died as a result. They said yesterday they deal with one complaint at a time but it would have been better to demonstrate some strategic leadership as well as seeking an independent review to get to the nub of the problem. It can't be that everyone is just being nasty and picking on them rather than the Governments of Scotland or Northern Ireland. When the First Minister said that I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. There are really serious complaints by the British Medical Association, the British Society of Emergency Medicine, the Royal College of Surgeons, Labour MP Ann Clwyd, Jeremy Hunt, David Cameron, AND patients. This is nothing to do with the wonderful staff in Wales and their professionalism or about how patients are treated. It's about the systematic failure of the Government to ensure that the health service in Wales is safe and adequate by comparison to the other NHSs in the UK.

The lobby will continue for the sake of everyone in Wales. xx Annie


Well done Annie.


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