We asked the Conservatives about the biggest issue facing Wales and this was their answer

The Welsh Conservatives launch their General Election campaign in a barn in Monmouthshire
-Credit: (Image: Will Hayward)

The Welsh Conservatives can't say how they would meaningfully increase funding to the Welsh NHS. Earlier today the Welsh Conservatives launched their general election campaign in a barn on a farm in Monmouthshire.

During it WalesOnline caught up with Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies. Mr Davies has been vocal in challenging Welsh Labour about the serious issues in the Welsh NHS and the Welsh Tories have said they would "properly fund" the health service in Wales.

WalesOnline tried to find out how they would do this, but to no avail. For the latest analysis of the biggest stories, sign up to the Wales Matters newsletter here.

READ MORE: The Welsh NHS is on its knees and this is who put it there

READ MORE: Why did they launch their election campaign in a barn?

WalesOnline: No one who looks at the waiting list in the Welsh NHS would think it was going well but what would you do differently?

Andrew RT Davies: We have said that in the early days [presumably of the pandemic] we would have brought the surgical hubs and diagnostic centres into play. This would have suppressed those waiting times, because people would have got the diagnosis that they required at the diagnostic centres, and then gone into the surgical hubs to have the surgery that was required. And that would have suppressed the waiting time numbers.

But that is in the past. If I were to put you in charge of the Welsh NHS how would you fix it?

We'd have a far faster rollout of diagnostic centres and surgical hubs in the first instance. We'd also have a strategic workforce plan in place which I appreciate isn't a tap turned on straight away but you have to start somewhere. And we'd be commissioning as much independent capacity as we possibly can to get that independent capacity working on behalf of the NHS.

But to get the Welsh NHS back on track you don’t just need small administrative tweaks, you need more money. How are you going to pay for that?

I accept that it's not just small administrative tweaks, but you have to put those small steps in place to get the overall gains. Being a farmer, I know you need to create a seed bed to put the seed in to make the seed grow…

How are you going to pay for those seeds?

One example is that the Welsh Government has put £300 million into free school meals. We believe free school meals are important for those children who require them and who are on universal benefits or for families who are struggling in poverty. Likewise, in summer holidays, we believe it should continue to the summer holidays. But we don't believe that £300 million should have been spent on supporting solicitors and doctors who are on 40% tax rates and ultimately can afford to pay for school meals.

But realistically you wouldn’t be saving £300m because lots of people will still be getting free school meals. Even if you did save that much, the Welsh NHS budget is £10bn. This is still a drop in the ocean compared to what's needed. Where would you be getting extra money? That wouldn't touch the sides.

It would make a sizable difference in some of the numbers that we're talking about. We would spend the £1.20 that comes from the UK Government in its entirety, as opposed to the Labour government. I can't read you the whole budget as we stand in our shed in Monmouth but I've given you a taste of what we would do.

How you would pay for it. I don't understand where that money is going to come from. You say you will pass the full consequential on to the Welsh NHS but that means you have to take some out of education and housing. Which will it be?

I've said to you we would have made decisions previously and where we think Labour have gone wrong. We have a comprehensive spending review coming up after the election and we would be making a strong case to make sure that more money was allocated specifically to waiting times so that we get that resource back into Wales.

When Mr Davies he talks about the “£1.20” what he means is that Wales receives £120 of Barnett-based funding for every £100 per person of equivalent UK Government spending in England. This is in part to account for the fact that it is more expensive to deliver the same service in Wales because of the older/sicker population and the spread out nature of our people.

At the moment the Welsh Government doesn't pass on the full amount they get from the NHS, in England, to the NHS in Wales. They take some to put in housing and education (though it is a bit more complex than that) and argue that this has increased health benefits long term. You can see a full breakdown of the challenges in the Welsh NHS here.