Journal Column – 29th June

As a Plaid Cymru MP, it is difficult to justify voting on England-only matters.  My party, along with our SNP colleagues, restrict our voting in Westminster to non-devolved issues unless there are consequences for the funding of our respective countries.  As an example, the introduction of tuition fees and scrapping 80% of the teaching budget by the coalition government meant an approximate £200million reduction in the Welsh Assembly budget.  Needless to say, I voted against tuition fees.

If we then consider the way in which the Conservative and Lib Dem government is carrying out its so-called reform of pensions, welfare benefits and the banks, we are fortunate in Wales to have direct control of a number of services; out of the hands of tory cuts and more responsive to the needs of our people.  There is no better service than the NHS to demonstrate the different approaches being taken by neighbouring nations. 

But despite the NHS reforms across the border being an England-only matter, I have two significant concerns that these reform proposals will have on the NHS in Wales – our dependence on, and access to, specialist facilities, and the introduction of a competitive market.

The UK government should need no reminding that it has a legal duty to ensure there is a comprehensive health service.  Wielding its well-sharpened axe on this service would make postcode lotteries worse than what they are now.  Additionally, the NHS must not become subject the European competition law.  The regulator must promote collaboration not competition.

Plaid MPs will ensure the Tories and Lib Dems do not lose sight of a fundamental principle of the NHS – that quality of care comes first.

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