The plight of one Wrexham nurse highlights how the NHS is being privatised by stealth after a decade of underfunding and mounting waiting lists, says a North Wales MS.
She is now considering selling her home to pay for private health care that would enable her to keep working in her job.
Plaid Cymru's Llyr Gruffydd MS, who will raise the case in the Senedd today, said he is increasingly concerned that more and more people are opting to go private in sheer desperation at the length of NHS waiting lists.
He said: "The NHS in the north of Wales has been under huge strain for a decade. Funding has not kept pace with demand from a growing elderly population and the lack of a clear workforce plan to keep nurses and doctors in post has led to an over-reliance on agency and locum staff. This has been costing as much as £3 million a month in Betsi Cadwaladr health board alone.
"The upshot of this long-term funding and staffing problem has now reached a head. That's why nurses and other health professionals are striking for better pay and to protect the NHS that they believe in so passionately. I support their cause wholeheartedly.
"But there is another more serious consequence of these funding and staffing failures - the privatisation by stealth of many health services. It's happening on a huge scale in England but increasingly in Wales we're seeing patients going private because they need treatment to continue working.
"In one case I've been made aware of, a Wrexham nurse is having to sell her home to pay for an operation she needs on both hands. She has carpal tunnel problems that cause her hands to swell, shooting pains, burning sensations, and it shoots up to her elbows. As she is a dental nurse, this is causing huge problems in terms of her work as well as her life in general. The struggles to use machinery that is essential for her work.
"Having being told the waiting list was 12 months in July 'if urgent', she was then told in September that she was now classed as urgent but that the waiting list was now two years.
"In desperation, she is considering going private with her father offering to pay. She is now selling her house with a view to paying him back."
Mr Gruffydd added that this was not an isolated case in the region: "This is just one story but many other patients have told me about their reluctant decision to go private because they are in pain and it's affecting their daily lives.
"The NHS is failing these people - not because of the staff there but because the UK Government and Welsh Government have failed to provide enough funding and staffing to ensure waiting lists are manageable. This was a problem before Covid and, while the pandemic made things worse, we are still in a deep crisis.
"We should also bear in mind that some Tory MPs are funded by private healthcare companies, which have a vested interest in ensuring the NHS cannot cope adequately. Health care should not be driven by profits for large multinationals but this is what we're seeing as the Tories undermine one of most precious institutions."
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