1. ITV Report

Status quo of NHS 'unaffordable'

NHS bodies are reported to have made savings of £285m in 2011-12 Photo: Andrew Parsons/PA Archive

The Auditor General has warned that while funding for the NHS is set to deplete over the next three years, the financial pressures facing the health service are due to increase to £1bn.

The latest report by the Wales Audit Office shows that the NHS has met its financial targets for the past year. This, however, is not without help from the Welsh Government. A bailout in the region of £157m was given to support the health service, £24.4m of which was taken from next year's funding.

In short, even after the very significant savings already made, the status quo is simply unaffordable and there have to be service changes to secure its long-term future.

– Huw Vaughan Thomas, the Auditor General

Huw Vaughan Thomas, the Auditor General, says that by breaking into next year's budget the financial burden felt by health boards over the next two years will intensify. But, he adds, it will also "reinforce the Welsh Government's tougher message about the importance of cost control."

In an attempt to secure the health care service, Mr Thomas says work is underway in a number of areas including reviewing the accounting regime, improving funding opportunities and engaging clinicians in financial decisions.

Mr Thomas concludes that this year's audit proves that the way the system is at the moment is 'simply unaffordable' and changes need to be made.

Although it is encouraging that health bodies in Wales have made substantial savings, the fact they have required substantial sums of money from the Welsh Government to address their financial difficulties, is unsustainable in the current economic climate.

– Darren Millar AM, the Chair of the National Assembly for Wales's Public Accounts Committee

In response to the report, the Welsh Government says it accepts the recommendations made of which, it says, many are being addressed.

We have always been upfront about the challenge our NHS represents and about our belief that no area of public service can be spared from trying to find efficiencies. We have allocated an additional £288m to the NHS in the current and next two years with the expectation this will put the NHS on a sustainable financial footing.

– Health Minister, Lesley Griffiths AM

This week, all three opposition parties in the National Assembly united to table a motion of no-confidence in the Health Minister Lesley Griffiths.

The debate will take the place of a Liberal Democrat opposition debate next Wednesday.

Adrian Masters has more on today's report.