Cross-border Hospital Services

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): When I was Secretary of State, I was always keen to praise success in Wales. Would the Secretary of State care to congratulate the Welsh NHS on having a nurse-to-patient ratio that is a fifth higher than that of England, where his Government have cut the number of nurses by 7,000? Will he also congratulate the Welsh Government on recruiting doctors at a much faster rate than in England?

Mr Jones: I am always keen and ready to give praise where praise is due. Certainly, Welsh clinicians and nurses do a wonderful job. The fact remains, however, that outcomes in Wales are significantly worse than they are in England, which, to be frank, is something about which the right hon. Gentleman should join me in expressing concern. I also suggest that he have a word with his friend the Welsh Minister for Health and suggest to him that he might wish to take on board the recommendations of Professor Keogh.


Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): Is my hon. Friend aware that 750,000 TB cases—the most lethal ones—come from South Africa’s gold mines, and contribute 9% of the global total of TB cases, which are often linked to HIV? If so, does he agree that it is vital for the British Government to talk to British-owned companies that are mining gold in South Africa to try to resolve that terrible epidemic?

Nic Dakin: I thank my right hon. Friend for that intervention. He is absolutely right that the Government have a leadership role to play both globally and in relation to British companies involved in South Africa and elsewhere. I am sure that the Minister will also pick up on that point when he responds to the debate.

Measles Outbreak

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): What sort of early intervention have the Government ordered to prevent a contagious spread of measles from the outbreak in the Neath and Swansea area of more than 700 serious cases? Thousands of parents across Britain will have been tormented by the choice of whether to vaccinate their children for measles, mumps and rubella because of the scare. Surely the Minister should take serious action to instruct public health officials to combat this issue.

Dr Poulter: We are taking exactly that action to make sure that the vaccine is available and to promote the uptake of it. The right hon. Gentleman will of course be aware that the problems and concerns about the failure of some families to take up the vaccine resulted from some mis-used data in the past. That was a regrettable incident concerning the use of medical data, and is unfortunately causing great problems now. We are committed to making sure that those vaccines are available to the children who need it.