Page last updated at 05:44 GMT, Thursday, 10 July 2008 06:44 UK

Patients' 'second class NHS' fear

Doctor and patient
Different funding systems are in place in England and Wales

Rows over funding treatment for Welsh patients across the border has left some feeling like "second-class citizens" a report from MPs is warning.

It is one of the findings of a cross-party investigation into how services are provided between Wales and England.

In its interim report, the Welsh Affairs Committee said ministers on both sides of the border need to address the concern "immediately".

It also wants to ensure that the border is no barrier to the best treatment.

"The heart of the matter is that Welsh and English patients living close to the border must have access to excellent services as close to their homes as possible," said Dr Hywel Francis, the MP chairing the Welsh Affairs Committee.

Dr Francis also said it was important the border between Wales and England was not regarded as a barrier to accessing services for patients.

However, the report highlights what it describes as "tensions" over the different ways healthcare is funded in England and Wales.

In England, hospitals are paid according to each individual treatment carried out, under a programme known as 'payment by result'.

In Wales, health care funding is based on block contracts which look at previous funding and treatment levels.

'Subsidised'

The report said this has led to allegations that less money is received for the treatment of Welsh patients than compared to English patients.

The report added: "Evidence also suggests that Welsh patients perceive that they are being treated as second-class citizens within the National Health Service.

"Both suggestions should be addressed immediately by the Department of Health, the Welsh Assembly Government and health service providers to ensure that patients receiving treatment on both sides of the Welsh-English border are treated fairly and equally, and that they believe this to be the case."

However, MPs noted that evidence emerging during their inquiry suggested that the sums of money involved in financial disputes between Wales and England are "small relative to the overall health budgets".

The committee's chairman, Dr Francis added: "It is essential that all patients are, and believe that they are, treated equally and receive the best possible care."

The final report from the committee is expected to be published in the autumn.




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