Page last updated at 11:02 GMT, Saturday, 4 July 2009 12:02 UK

Dispute over swine flu jab costs

Advice leaflet
There have been 34 confirmed swine flu cases in Wales

The Welsh Assembly Government is locked in a dispute with the Treasury over who should pay for the swine flu vaccination programme in Wales.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan has written to the UK government saying even though health is devolved, the pandemic is an emergency situation.

The Treasury expects the UK's devolved administrations to foot the bill.

But Mr Morgan said it was "rubbish" to suggest that supply of the vaccine will be affected by the issue of who pays.

The cost of buying and administering the flu vaccine in Wales is likely to run into tens of millions of pounds.

Five more swine flu cases have been confirmed in Wales, taking the total number of people affected to 42.

The latest cases are a 63-year-old man from Cardiff, a 25-year-old woman from Newport, a one-year-old girl from Merthyr Tydfil, a 31-year-old man from Anglesey and a 21-year-old man from Conwy county.

Public health officials have said they expect the number of cases in Wales to rise but say people should not be alarmed.

The UK government has said trying to contain the virus is no longer an option, as by August there could be 100,000 new cases a day.

Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using a tissue where possible
Dispose of tissues promptly and carefully
Wash hands frequently with soap and water
Clean hard surfaces such as door handles regularly with a normal cleaning product
Help your children to follow hygiene advice
Source: National Public Health Service for Wales/Welsh Assembly Government

BBC Wales understands First Minister Mr Morgan has written to Chancellor Alistair Darling saying he believes the pandemic is an exceptional emergency situation.

The letter is thought to say Mr Morgan thinks the costs of the swine flu vaccination should be met by the UK government.

The Department of Health in Whitehall is buying stocks of the vaccine on behalf of the UK's devolved administrations.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan, said: "It is rubbish to suggest that the supply of tamiflu or vaccine will be affected by issues over who pays.

"I deprecate very strongly this story being put out by the Conservatives because the only impact would be to worry patients, prospective patients and their families.

"We have gone for getting total sufficiency of supply of antivirals, antibiotics and vaccine when it becomes available. That is true for Wales as it is for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

"The 'who pays?' issue is being sorted out in separate discussions and we have always been crystal clear about that."

An Assembly Government spokesman added: "The Department of Health is leading the procurement of vaccine stocks on behalf of the UK for the whole population. Wales will receive a share to cover its population.

"The first minister has written to the chancellor of the exchequer to the effect that as emergency planning is not a matter devolved to Wales, when expenditure decisions are taken in the emergency planning context then the budgetary responsibility remains with the UK government."

A Treasury spokesman told BBC Wales: "The position is unchanged - all health spending is a devolved matter - that remains the case."

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