Welsh Government Refuses Health Board Bailout

The Welsh government has indicated that four struggling health boards will not receive any bailout money, despite the fact that their overall budget deficits will treble in size in due course.

Collectively, the four boards in question are expected to accumulate a deficit of £146 million in the current fiscal year.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (ABMU) has already publicly conceded that the financial position of the trust is extremely challenging.

ABMU has stated that it is attempting to reduce the number of agency staff it has relied on in order to reduce costs.

There have also been overspends at Betsi Cadwaladr in north Wales, Cardiff and Vale board and Hywel Dda in mid and west Wales.

Betsi Cadwaladr’s deficit is now forecast to be £30 million, Hywel Dda £49.9 million, ABMU £35m and Cardiff and Vale is £31 million in the red for the 2016/17 financial year.

There will be no obligation placed on the health boards to reimburse the money, but the health boards will be ordered to deliver balanced budgets during the next financial year.

Betsi Cadwaladr has been under direct control of the Welsh Government since June 2015, while all of the other boards have been placed under an increased level of scrutiny.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething suggested that there is little danger of services being cut due to funding.

“We’ll change services but that’s because we should change some of our services, because they currently don’t deliver the right value and the best quality,” Gething stated.

But a spokeswoman on behalf of the Welsh government indicated the position of the authority, namely that the situation of the health boards’ finances must improve sooner rather than later.

“The position in these four health boards is unacceptable, and we have made it clear that we expect them to take action to significantly improve their financial position.”

The spokeswoman went on to outline the fact that no bailouts will be proffered.

“Individual organisations that exceed their allocated resources, have not – and will not – be bailed out. The government is working alongside all organisations to improve their respective positions, and the overall health budget will be balanced for the 2016-17 financial year”.

In the current climate, the government has suggested that a public debate should be conducted on how to resurrect the fortunes of the healthcare system.

Some of the boards in question are already forecasting an even worse financial position for next year than in the current 12-month period.

A spokesman for the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board indicated that every effort has been made to balance the books.

“We have worked hard throughout the year, and worked closely with Welsh Government, to address our challenges, and we will continue to do so going forward.”

While Stephen Foster, of Hywel Dda University Health Board, conceded that the fiscal position of the board is far from ideal.

“This is not the financial situation that we would want to find ourselves in and we are putting together significant plans to turn it around.”


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