Friday 7 March 2014

English Punches

In the last few days the UK Government and its supporters have been prodding the Welsh Government about its record on running the Welsh NHS - see the story here.

The critics, led by English Health Minister Jeremy Hunt, have concentrated particularly on death rates in hospitals but they have deployed other examples of alleged failure in recent months. Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford has pushed back hard, denying the problems and suggesting political motivation. Well, of course, and no doubt comparison with the Welsh NHS will be a feature of the next General Election.

I honestly don't know who is right about this. Some of the English punches seem to land but others seem off target and the stuff about people crossing the border to avail themselves of superior care in England looks pretty unlikely.

So the jury is out.

But perhaps it is good that the comparisons are made (and let's hope we can see some dispassionate and transparent analysis of relative success) as this may sharpen the determination of both governments to improve their act.

There could be a downside, though, if for example either government devotes undue resources to meeting specific targets - to the detriment of less politically sensitive areas such as mental health. Actually I think there are votes in mental health but it is hard pressed to compete with things like waiting lists for heart surgery.