First Minister challenged over Countess of Chester Hospital “holding patients to ransom”

Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM has today challenged the First Minister to take decisive action over the Countess of Chester Hospital’s decision to bar Welsh patients from referrals.

Llyr Gruffydd has raised the matter of patients from Wales being barred from attending new outpatient referrals at Countess of Chester Hospital with the First Minister in the Senedd today.

At a scrutiny session with the First Minister of Wales he asked whether this decision was acceptable.

Mark Drakeford responded that he would investigate but added that this kind of behaviour can work both ways.

Speaking later Llyr Gruffydd said: “It appears that this decision by the Countess of Chester Hospital to halt all new outpatient referrals for patients living in Wales has been made during ongoing negotiations about payment schemes. I’m aware that complaints were first aired publicly six months ago by hospital bosses and clearly remain unresolved.

“Whatever the problems, it remains completely unacceptable for the NHS in England to deny Welsh patients access to services due to a funding dispute with Betsi Cadwaladr UHB. It’s effectively using them as a bargaining chip, as leverage to force Betsi Cadwaladr UHB to pay more. Worried patients and concerned GPs have been contacting me to get answers and I’ve challenged the Welsh Government to come up with answers.

“The Welsh Government, which has had direct control over BCUHB for the past four years, really needs to step up to the plate now. How has it allowed things to come to this stage, why hasn’t it responded more swiftly and what assurances can it give that patients in my region will not be treated like second-class citizens?’

He added: “I think we should also remind Chester that they are reliant on patients from Wales to a degree and three years ago the local trust in that area was considering merging Arrowe Park, Chester and Clatterbridge hospitals to create a super-hospital on the Wirral.


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