Cross-border health arrangements between England and Wales - Welsh Affairs Contents

1  Introduction

1. The border between Wales and England is approximately 170 miles long, with 50% of the population of Wales living within 25 miles of the border. 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 England and Wales. These differences in policy and administration have implications for patients who rely on healthcare facilities on the other side of the border from where they live.

2. In April 2013, NHS Wales and NHS England agreed a revised Protocol for Cross-border Healthcare Services to improve the interaction between the NHS on either side of the England-Wales border.

3. We chose to examine cross-border healthcare because we had heard of significant confusion amongst patients needing to travel across the border for treatment, for example, in knowing what they were entitled to receive from their health service. Our inquiry has not been concerned with the merits of the healthcare system in Wales, which is devolved to the Welsh Government and scrutinised by the National Assembly for Wales, or England. Given the likelihood of further health policy divergence in the future, we believe that it is essential for robust and detailed systems of liaison to be in place to guarantee consistent cross-border co-ordination in years to come.

4. We took oral evidence from patient representatives, professional bodies in the healthcare profession, Welsh Local Health Boards, English Clinical Commissioning Groups, along with the Welsh and UK Governments. A full list of witnesses can be found at the end of this Report.

5. We also took the opportunity during this inquiry to engage with a wider section of the population. We held a web forum to allow people to submit their personal experiences of cross-border healthcare, from which we received 36 written submissions. We also held public events in conjunction with Parliamentary Outreach in Newtown and Hereford to hear from members of the public, medical practitioners and local representatives. These were well attended and greatly informed our inquiry. A summary of the events is attached as an Annex. We wish to place on record our gratitude to all those who have contributed to our inquiry, especially those who attended the events in Newtown and Hereford.

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Prepared 12 March 2015