Shropshire health boss hits out at NHS cross border costs

Shrewsbury | News | Published:

Thousands of pounds in funding for healthcare services in Shropshire is being spent on Welsh patients because of  rules imposed by the Government.

It was revealed the county is spending £700,000 a year treating Welsh patients coming over the border for hospital care.

Councillor Karen Calder, cabinet member for health and chairwoman of the health and wellbeing board at Shropshire Council, has spoken out over the rules, saying Shropshire is losing out.

She said while supporting the principle of looking after cross-border patients, there is no way of claiming the spending back.

She said: "We are by no means objecting to Welsh patients using our services as we understand and accept that they can be more accessible for them. We are only seeking to reclaim costs in the same way that we do for patients from Cheshire and Staffordshire.

"Shropshire is unable to recharge the patient's home local authority for these costs as the current directive from the Department of Health for England prevents English authorities from recharging Welsh authorities. This is to the detriment of Shropshire residents. Had the patient been a resident in any other English local authority, this cost could be recharged."

An agreement exists between the Department of Health and the Welsh Assembly Government about the rules for re-charging cross boundary patients, and Councillor Calder said Shropshire Council and Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group had submitted their concerns to the Parliamentary Review of these arrangements.

As an example she said currently around £90,000 of Shropshire's public health money for sexual health services is being spent treating patients coming from Wales.

Last week Shrewsbury & Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski said he had also written to Welsh health minister Mark Drakeford about his concerns over the number of cross-border patients being treated in the county after the Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which buys health services for the county, revealed the £700,000 bill.

Councillor Calder said the financial pressure is being made worse as Shropshire Council has one of the lowest per capita public health grants in England.

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