Patients' fury after being barred from seeking treatment over the border

Angry patients have hit out at the Welsh Government for “dictating” where they can receive their hospital treatment.

Up until September last year, GPs in the Aneurin Bevan Health Board area could refer patients for treatment in England.

But new cross-border rules introduced as part of the Welsh Government’s five-year health plan Together for Health mean they can no longer do that.

Instead patients now have to be referred to hospitals in Gwent and if services are not available locally, the health board will look to provide treatment elsewhere in Wales.

Retired chartered surveyor David Lambert of The Narth, near Monmouth, has recently been treated for skin cancer in Hereford and has developed further prostrate problems.

His GP in Trellech requested an appointment for him to see a urology specialist at the County Hospital in Hereford but the health board refused to authorise the referral.

Mr Lambert was originally placed on the waiting list for the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, although the health board has now said he can be treated at Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny.

He has been waiting for an appointment since 22nd November 2012.

“To say the least I am very unhappy with the outcome as too many of my friends have left Welsh hospitals in wooden boxes,” said Mr Lambert.  

‘It is much more convenient for me to go to Hereford and I am very pleased with the treatment I’ve had in the modern and clean County Hospital.

“In my opinion the facilities at the run-down hospitals in Abergavenny and Newport simply aren’t as good and the waiting times are much longer.

“I had always thought that Wales was part of the UK but it appears that, like Scotland, it wants to be independent.

“Patients should have a real choice about where they are treated and should not be restricted in this way.”

Friends Kate Finn, 37, and 32 year-old Tara Ballard, who live in Monmouth, have also found themselves repatriated back to local services after being treated in Hereford for several years.

The rheumatoid arthritis sufferers do not feel that Wales can offer them better healthcare and claim the new rules are “extremely unfair.”

“Aneurin Bevan Health Board have not taken into consideration any of my views, have been extremely uncooperative throughout the whole repatriation process and I feel I have been blackmailed into receiving my treatment elsewhere,” said Mrs Finn.

Mrs Ballard, who has been under the care of Hereford for 28 years, added: “We aren’t being treated as individuals, just numbers.

“I have always had my care under Hereford and remained at the County Hospital when I moved to Monmouth 13 years ago. My treatment has never been an issue until now.

“The decision to force us to go to Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny is extremely unfair, especially as I don’t feel that Abergavenny can offer us any better healthcare than we get in Hereford.”

Monmouth MP David Davies said he had been repeatedly trying to warn people about what he has described as the death of the NHS.

“Do we have a national health service? No we do not. We have four different services across the UK,” he said.

“Wales is completely self-governing in the area of health as a result of the Welsh Assembly and the Welsh Government can dictate how Welsh patients receive their health care. I am of course angered by this and urged people to vote no in both referendums.

“I have discussed the matter with the chief executive of the health board, who has told me this is what the Welsh Government wants and he therefore has no choice but to implement these absurd rules.”