The Welsh Government says health boards are obliged to treat patients as close to their homes as possible and that they have the flexibility to refer outside their board areas when necessary. A spokesperson says the Aneurin Bevan boards' policy was alway going to be reviewed after six months.
We have made it clear that it is the responsibility of health boards to secure high quality, safe care for their residents as close to a patient’s home as possible, while taking into account the needs of the community as a whole and making best use of their resources. Each health board is reviewing services to achieve this. Where they feel the patient’s circumstances and clinical need justify this, health boards do have the flexibility to refer patients outside their area.
Aneurin Bevan Health Board has confirmed that the majority of referrals received on behalf of English residents since the policy has been in place have been approved, based on clinical needs and personal circumstances. From the outset the Health Board confirmed it would review its out of area policy after six months.
This review has now been undertaken by the Health Board who have agreed an amendment to the policy subject to consideration by the Community Health Council at its Executive Committee on 29 August 2013. This amendment will mean prior approval will not be required for English residents registered with Monmouthshire GPs for Health Board designated cross border providers.
Aneurin Bevan Health Board has now changed its policy so that English residents who are registered with a Welsh GP can now be referred to hospitals in the Wye Valley, Gloucestershire and Bristol areas.
In a statement it also recognises that there's been 'misunderstanding' in the community over the policy and that it's communication was partly to blame.
We have been concerned that despite our reassurances the nature of the Policy was not fully understood. We accept that this has been caused to some extent by how this was communicated by the Health Board, and partly by misunderstanding within the community.
We do hope that by taking positive action to undertake this early review of the Policy based on our actual data and experience we can allay many of the concerns and fears that residents might have had.
An MP is calling for a new agreement between the Welsh and English health services. The call comes after patients living in England but with GPs in Wales were told they could only be referred to Welsh hospitals.
Official figures show 20,000 people living on the English side of the border are registered with GPs in Wales. Aneurin Bevan local health board says it's now altered its policy to allow GPs to refer patients who live in England to English hospitals if they wish.
But Hereford and South Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman says health services on both sides of the border need to renegotiate the agreements between them.