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First Minister claims Tories "insult" foreign doctors

First Minister Carwyn Jones has condemned the UK Health Secretary's plan to reduce the NHS's reliance on foreign doctors. Despite the current shortage, Jeremy Hunt is due to tell the Conservative party conference this afternoon that by training more doctors in Britain, it will be possible to recruit fewer from overseas.

The Tories have said today that foreign doctors and NHS staff are only welcome here whilst they are needed. I say they are welcome – full stop. We are talking about valued members of our communities, and they are valued staff in our NHS. More than that, they’re real people with real families. Talking about them as though they are some sort of commodity is in an insult to them, and the brilliant work they do every day in our NHS.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

In remarks ahead of his speech, Mr Hunt suggested that there would be less need to recruit EU doctors in future. He also questioned the morality of bringing in doctors from developing countries.

Currently a quarter of our doctors come from overseas. They do a fantastic job and we have been clear that we want EU nationals who are already here to be able to stay post-Brexit.

But is it right to import doctors from poorer countries that need them whilst turning away bright home graduates desperate to study medicine?

– UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP

UK health minister's wrong -Welsh Lib Dem leader

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams, who's often one of the fiercest critics of Welsh Labour's running of the health service, has condemned the UK Health Secretary's claims about the NHS in Wales.

Jeremy Hunt claimed that Welsh patients seeking treatment in England are causing "huge pressure" on hospitals there. He also said that the Welsh NHS is not prepared to pay for their treatment, a claim described as "nonsense" by the Welsh Government.

Kirsty Williams is AM for Brecon and Radnor, where many people have hospital treatment across the border. She has now written to Jeremy Hunt, stating that he is wrong on three counts.

Firstly, a good number of my constituents receive excellent care at The County Hospital in Hereford, and have done for many years because The County is their nearest District General Hospital. Whilst I know that there are problems in the Health service in Wales, I am alarmed that the current rhetoric might give my constituents the incorrect impression that they are not welcome or able to access treatment in Hereford, thereby putting them at risk of harm. Secondly, in terms of payment, you will well be aware that all treatment received by Powys patients in Hereford is then paid for by Powys Teaching Local Health Board. There should be no inference whatsoever that any of my constituents are receiving or expecting to receive treatment that is not then paid for. Finally, I take issue with you claiming that my constituents being treated in Hereford causes ‘great pressure’ on the system in England. Actually, having Welsh patients treated at The County Hospital helps maintain the services there by contributing significantly to the critical mass of patients needed to sustain a hospital of The County’s size.

– Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams AM

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"If Wales isn't worse, you've nothing to fear" - Hunt

UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has replied to the Welsh Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, who'd accused him of leaking correspondence and trying to politicise an independent survey of the NHS in all parts of the United Kingdom by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

I was disappointed to receive your letter of today's date.

There is no attempt whatsoever to subvert an independent OECD report - on the contrary we would like it to go ahead so that all parts of the UK NHS can learn from each other.

I believe transparency can be the biggest single driver of improvement in healthcare but the actions of the Welsh administration in blocking the visit by OECD analysts suggest you believe otherwise.

Earlier this year, the Welsh Government gave written agreement to participate in the four nations review in response to a letter from me. In that letter, I set out a detailed timetable for the review, which included the provision that the final report should be available to all four countries from mid-February of next year.

But on a matter as important as this I do not agree with you that their findings should be withheld from the public. This is a significant piece of research that will be of benefit to healthcare quality throughout the UK. The quality of the piece of work will suffer hugely without the ability to benchmark and contrast the performance of the four home nations and I believe we owe it to taxpayers who fund the NHS to show we are willing to learn from other parts of the UK as to where our performance can be improved. So I would urge you again in the strongest terms to allow the publication to go ahead.

You claim repeatedly that the NHS in Wales is not performing worse than the NHS in England -in which case you have nothing to fear from open and independent scrutiny of the NHS in the four home nations. But your actions suggest you really believe the opposite to be the case -otherwise why would the Welsh government cancel a pre-arranged OECD study visit at short notice? Independent scrutiny of healthcare quality for the benefit of patients should be above party politics. I urge you to think about patients in Wales before you take a decision with huge ramifications for the quality of the care they receive.

– Letter from Jeremy Hunt MP

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt at first event of the Olympics in Cardiff

Speaking before the first Olympic event at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium today, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he "couldn't believe the very very first day of the London 2012 Olympics was finally here."

Mr Hunt said Olympic organisers had had a "very smooth start over the last couple of weeks" despite issues with G4S security and the threat of a strike by border staff tomorrow.