'Patronising' MP Michael Fabricant asks where English tourists will get 'proper healthcare' in Wales

A Tory MP has been branded "patronising" after asking how English tourists will get “proper healthcare” when they visit an area of North Wales impacted by a hospital closure.

During Welsh questions in the House of Commons, Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant questioned how visitors could be assured of a "good standard of care" in tourist hotspot Tywyn, after the local hospital inpatient ward closed due to staffing issues.

Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Saville-Roberts said his question “verged on insulting”, and stressed that residents in the region were facing a crisis in healthcare provision.

Mr Fabricant said: “Many of my constituents, including me, visit Tywyn in Gwynedd.

“Is the Secretary of State aware that people need healthcare there, funded of course by the grant, yet Tywyn Hospital has closed its minor injuries unit and its inpatient ward?

“Will he speak to the Welsh Minister for Health and Social Services and discuss how English tourists will get proper healthcare when they are on holiday in Wales?”

David TC Davies said he "hopes" Welsh Labour ministers could "explain why they are unable to deliver the same standards" as in England Credit: House of Commons

Welsh Secretary David TC Davies responded: “Unfortunately I am unable to give a detailed answer because the National Health Service is devolved in Wales.

“I very much hope that Welsh Labour ministers will want to explain why, with all the extra money they are getting, above the money that is given to the National Health Service in England, they are unable to deliver the same standards of healthcare, or for that matter education, as those we take for granted under a Conservative Government run in Westminster.”

Plaid Cymru described the comments as "patronising" Credit: PA

Ms Saville-Roberts, whose Dwyfor Meirionnydd constituency covers Tywyn, said: “My constituents have been let down by the sudden closure of the inpatient ward at Ysbyty Tywyn.

“This is yet another blow to the people of Bro Dysynni (the area surrounding Tywyn) who already face a crisis in healthcare provision and a dearth of Government investment.

“Wales Questions have long been used by Tories representing English constituencies to pontificate about matters that have nothing to do with them, but today’s question verged on insulting. Tywyn and Bro Dysynni aren’t a community to be used as a cheap political hit."

Tywyn Hospital's inpatient ward was forced to close due to nurse shortages Credit: Google Maps

Tywyn Hospital’s inpatient ward was forced to close earlier this month because there were not enough staff to keep patients safe, according to the local health board.

Ffion Johnstone, integrated health community director for the west of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: “We have been working hard to recruit new nurses from the surrounding area and from further afield to work at Tywyn Hospital for some time but have now exhausted all recruitment options.

“Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to recruit adequate numbers of nurses to provide safe nurse staffing levels across both Tywyn and Dolgellau hospitals.

“With the safety of our patients as our primary concern, we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily close the ward at Tywyn Hospital and consolidate inpatient beds at Dolgellau Hospital to ensure more robust nursing cover.”

The health board said the recruitment process needed to reopen the inpatient ward could take several months.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “NHS services in North Wales are managed by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. We understand that outpatient appointments will continue at Tywyn Hospital and inpatient services will be temporarily provided at Dolgellau Hospital.

“Regarding the ‘extra money’ the Secretary of State referred to, our budget in 2023-24 is worth £900 million less in real terms than when it was set at the start of the current three-year spending review.”