In the Assembly Chamber this afternoon, Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, has hit out at the Welsh Labour Government after it announced that much of the money allocated for the Health Technologies Fund will go towards replacing already existing equipment.
The Welsh Labour Government has previously acknowledged that the Health Technologies Fund is based on an idea introduced by the Welsh Liberal Democrats during last year's budget negotiations. The intention of the Welsh Liberal Democrats' Health Technologies Fund was to invest in innovative treatments not replace existing equipment.
Kirsty Williams AM commented:
"The whole point of the Welsh Lib Dem Technologies Fund was to offer patients access to innovative treatments that are not available routinely through the NHS. The Welsh Labour Government said they liked the idea and wanted to bring it forward. However, it now seems that the Health Minister has completely missed the point of the fund.
"When discussing the Health Technologies Fund in Health Committee, the Minister said that she had a business case to provide stereotactic radiography and that she was looking at radiotherapy technologies such a CyberKnife. Now, only a month later, the Minister has reneged on this plan and is instead using the fund to replace already existing kit. That was never the point of the Health Technologies Fund and the Minister knows it.
"The Health Minister needs to clarify why she had pulled such a mammoth u-turn in the matter of only a few weeks.
"Only recently we heard how the Welsh Labour Government was giving huge amounts of money for patients to receive private radiosurgery treatment in Harley Street London. The people of Wales deserve better and sending patients to England is often not cost effective.
"It is a sad state of affairs that Velindre hospital has a target to treat 36% of cancer patients using the latest IMRT technology by 2016. In the Royal Marsden Hospital, this procedure is considered routine. The Welsh Liberal Democrats have long argued for the need of innovative radiotherapy treatments to be based in Wales and will continue to do so."