Speaking in support of the Queen’s Speech in the House of Commons this week, Vale of Clwyd MP Dr James Davies called for UK-wide health data to ensure patients in Wales receive the same level of service as those in other parts of the UK.
James, who is a practising GP, said that patients in Wales often receive inferior levels of service in comparison to patients in England and that introducing UK-wide health data would help ensure more equal health outcomes across the UK.
He said such an approach could be complemented by the establishment of independent UK-wide healthcare inspection, safety and audit mechanisms
Speaking in Parliament, he said:
“The availability of comparable data on covid infection rates and vaccination roll-out throughout the country has been a key driver in our response to the pandemic, yet looking at healthcare more broadly, comparisons between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can be difficult to draw. My personal experience as a GP, anecdotal evidence and basic comparisons indicate that, despite the hard work and commitment of health staff, patients in Wales often receive inferior levels of service when compared with their friends in England.
“By introducing UK-wide health data, politicians at all levels will be held to account, practitioners and policy makers can better share best practice, and, ultimately, equal health outcomes will be promoted. Such an approach would be complemented by the establishment of independent UK-wide healthcare inspection, safety and audit mechanisms.”
He added: “In short, we have opportunities that I believe we must seize to level up healthcare. I ask the Minister to consider what the UK Government can do, beyond the legislative programme already announced, to protect and promote the health of all British citizens.”
He also spoke of the need for better access to, and choice of, secondary and tertiary healthcare for the residents of North Wales.
He said: “I am looking forward to seeing the progress of the health and care Bill. I hope that, as part of the legislative process, the Government will consider the challenges that Welsh patients currently experience, whereby access to specialist healthcare treatment in England is typically dependent on restrictive contracts or individual funding requests.”
Further, James, who is a vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on obesity, welcomed measures in the UK Government’s legislative agenda to tackle the obesity crisis in the UK and called for progress on the introduction of calorie labelling for alcohol products.
“In the UK, 63% of adults are overweight or living with obesity. This places an enormous strain on the NHS, reduces quality of life and stifles economic productivity.
“The Government have a clear agenda to tackle obesity, and I welcome, among other measures, the confirmation of a total online ban and a 9 pm TV watershed for the advertising of high-fat, salt and sugar products. The commitment to legislate for calorie labelling in cafés, restaurants and takeaways is also welcome. Although I acknowledge certain concerns on behalf of those with eating disorders, I believe this policy will have a clear net benefit for our national health.
“Can progress also be made on introducing calorie labelling for alcohol products? I am in no way anti-alcohol, in fact, I am a proud member of the beer, and wine and spirits all-party parliamentary groups, but I believe that there is currently poor awareness that alcohol consumption is a significant contributor towards our national obesity crisis. An alcohol calorie labelling programme would be a useful tool to enhance the plans already outlined in the Queen’s Speech.”