A group of MPs, the Welsh Affairs Committee, has published a report on cross border health services.
It says half the population of Wales lives within 25 miles of the border with England. As a result cross-border movements are a fact of life, including for healthcare.
Since devolution there has been increasing divergence between the healthcare systems of Wales and England. The committee says this can cause confusion for patients, particularly those who rely on healthcare facilities on either side of the border from where they live.
Its recommendations and conclusions include:
- We are concerned that there is a lack of communication regarding changes to healthcare services which could have an impact across the border. We recommend that formal protocols are put in place to ensure consultation between LHBs and CCGs when changes to services impact on populations across the border.
- We recommend that NHS Wales and NHS England work together to improve patient engagement for cross-border services.
- We recommend that the Department of Health and the Welsh Government work together with medical practitioners, particularly at a GP level, to ensure that patients are better informed of the differences in healthcare policy between England and Wales. Patients must also be made aware of the impact of choosing a Welsh or English GP and the implications that this might have for later care.
- We welcome the commitment from the Welsh Government's Health Minister on patient needs and his commitment not to allow the border to become a barrier. We recognise that Welsh GPs will be mindful of a need to maintain investment and capacity in Wales. Healthcare providers in England and Wales need to maintain close links to ensure that patients receive the treatment they need regardless of their country of residence, particularly given the policy divergence that has emerged as a result of devolution.