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Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Gordon wows the English - but what about the Welsh?

Listening to Gordon Brown's Labour party conference speech you could be forgiven for thinking he has no knowledge of Welsh health policy.

Take for example, his announcement on prescription charges. He's announced that cancer patients and people with long-term conditions will get free prescriptions. An excellent move, but one that's already happening in Wales.

Or universal check-ups for patients over 40. Does this apply to Wales and if so, who will do the work?

Also, what about his pledge that the majority of GP surgeries will be open on weekends. Does this apply to Wales and, if it does, has he shared this with our Health Minister, Edwina Hart, and the Welsh GPs who will be expected to open their doors?

In reality, Gordon Brown was talking to an 'English' audience but major 'English' health announcements, like this, only help to confuse Welsh clinicians and patients alike. I know from my own experience that Welsh GPs will sit down and will be asked about weekend opening hours or when patients will get their check-up.

When it comes to health, devolution allows Wales to do things differently - a fact which appears lost on our Prime Minister - or at least his conference speechwriters! With the vast majority of the Welsh population still reliant on 'national' TV, radio and newspapers for their 'news' this confusion over health policy is something that looks set to continue.

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