The fiery response by the Government yet again demonstrates that they are simply unwilling to answer the questions properly put by the Opposition.
The public now has a very clear picture of the challenges faced by the Opposition where the Government are often less than forthcoming in parliamentary exchanges.
Despite what was implied in the Government’s intemperate response, MrPhillips was in the Parliament chamber on 24 March 2023 and the question related to the contractual arrangements between the Government and Spanish ambulance contractors. It was revealed in the House that in 2022 the Government has spent nearly £400,000 on Spanish contractors to transit GHA patients in Spain and for the first four months of 2023, the Government had spent over £200,000. It would appear likely that that the overall figure for 2023 may well exceed £600,000.
The public deserve to understand why two of our GHA ambulances have been out of action for several months putting as risk the health and safety of patients requiring this service. The Government must now immediately reassure the public and answer question the GSD have put to it.
Secondly, the Government characterises thefailure to put in place a permanent solution to allow our ambulances to cross the border so that our people can undergo routine treatment as a “Brexit consequence”. The suggestion that the GSD would somehow compromise sovereignty to allow patients to attend routine appointments in Spain is ridiculous and unworthy of a response.
What the Government cannot do is hide behind its failure to get this issue dealt with. If the Government are saying that the Spanish Government are not prepared to allow sick people requiring routine medical treatment in Spain unless we allow them to encroach on our redlines on sovereignty jurisdiction and control, we have a bigger problem than anyone would have anticipated.
With less reliance on UK tertiary providers and increased use of healthcare provision in Spain, access by our own ambulances is critical and a long-term solution must be found beyond using Spanish contracted ambulances.
The Government now needs to set out in detail: (1)why they have been unable to resolve this issue thus far: and (2) what other measures are being considered to enable our ambulances to transport patients to Spain. If no solution can be found, they should say so instead of putting out smoke screens for their continuing failures on Brexit related issues.