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The NHS in Wales: faring worse than the rest of the UK?

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h1750 (Published 08 April 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1750

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. John Appleby, chief economist, King’s Fund, London, UK
  1. j.appleby{at}kingsfund.org.uk

John Appleby examines whether government attempts to use the Welsh NHS to discredit the Labour Party are valid

Aneurin Bevan—founding father of the NHS and, of course, a Welshman—once said that the sound of a dropped bedpan in Tredegar would reverberate around the Palace of Westminster. What was true then has increasingly become the case now, but for different political reasons. With the Labour Party in charge in Wales (and hence in charge of the NHS in Wales), the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government has not resisted the temptation to make unflattering comparisons between the Welsh and English NHS.1 For some, pointing out that on a variety of measures the Welsh NHS does not perform as well as the English NHS has the fishy smell of a red herring; a distraction from difficulties the English NHS has also been suffering recently.

But not only is a descriptive comparison of the performance of health services in different countries notoriously …

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