Wales-Scotland clash over NHS winter pressures

Vaughan Gething

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Vaughan Gething said NHS Wales and social care are under considerable pressure

Scotland’s first minister has criticised Welsh health secretary’s assertion that recent spikes in demand could not “reasonably” be planned for.

Vaughan Gething highlighted a 54% rise in demand for ambulances in the “red” category – the most life-threatening – on New Year’s Eve in Wales.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon disputed his planning claim, saying Scottish ministers had “properly planned”.

She called Scotland’s NHS the “best-performing” in the UK.

She was addressing Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

In Cardiff Bay on Wednesday, Conservative Angela Burns asked a question on the “crisis in the Welsh NHS this winter, in light of reports that services are at breaking point”.

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Nicola Sturgeon: “We have properly planned”

Mr Gething said that this winter “we’ve seen extraordinary reversals of the norm”.

“For example, in out-of-hours care, we saw a significant spike in Cardiff and the Vale, when normally in the Christmas period—on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – you see a fall in calls for services, but this year we saw a significant rise,” he told AMs.

“So, these are not pressures that you could reasonably plan for in terms of those spikes.”

After rejecting that claim, during Thursday’s First Minister’s Question Time at Holyrood, Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish NHS faced “unprecedented pressures”, with flu rates for the first week in January “four times what they were in the same week last year”.

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