Ed Miliband defends Welsh government's handling of NHS

It would be 'nonsense' to take advice from David Cameron's health policy in England, said Ed Miliband

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Labour leader Ed Miliband has defended the Welsh government's handling of the NHS.

He said First Minister Carwyn Jones and his team were doing an "excellent job" making the health service "as good as possible".

It would be "nonsense" to take advice from David Cameron's health policy in England, he said.

Asked whether he could name Wales' Health Minister, Mr Miliband said he did not want to get into "quizzes".

Welsh Labour's record on the health service has been used by Prime Minister David Cameron as ammunition against Mr Miliband.

It has been criticised over longer waiting times and missed targets for ambulance response times in Wales.

But Mr Miliband told BBC Wales that First Minister Carwyn Jones and the Welsh government were doing everything they could to raise standards.

He added: "It's really important to remember that about 40% of the Welsh budget goes on the NHS and we've seen big cuts handed down from Westminster, but within that context I think Carwyn is doing an excellent job in seeking to make the NHS as good as possible."

Since Mr Jones became first minister four years ago, the number of people waiting for hospital treatment has risen from 227,000 to 416,000.

And a recent report by the auditor general for Wales said unscheduled care services - such as accident and emergency units - were deteriorating across the country.

'Frankly nonsense'

It said too many patients, in particular older people, spent longer than 12 hours in emergency units.

Mr Miliband admitted the NHS in Wales faced "challenges", adding: "The reality... is that you've got the Welsh government's budget which is controlled by the [UK] government and they've cut the budget significantly, and of course therefore the Welsh government is having to cope with the impact of that."

The Labour-run Welsh government has chosen not to protect the health element of its budget, unlike England.

Mr Miliband said the "idea that Wales should take lessons from David Cameron, I think is frankly nonsense".

Asked whether he had spoken to Wales' health minister, Mr Miliband replied: "I have talked to Carwyn, of course, about a range of issues including the health service in Wales."

Asked whether he knew who the Welsh Health Minister [Mark Drakeford] was, Mr Miliband said: "I'm not getting into quizzes."

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