The Welsh Government says organisations running the NHS in Wales have met this year's financial targets. It had been predicted the boards would still face a shortfall despite a £145m 'final' bailout from the Welsh Government last October.
Former leader of Plaid Cymru Ieuan Wyn Jones, who's now the party's finance spokesperson, has waded into the row over the Welsh Government's claims that local health boards have met their financial targets.
This is an astounding attempt by the Labour Welsh government to mislead us into thinking that our LHBs have stayed within budget. I’ve been raising the financial mismanagement of some LHBs for months – and now the Welsh Government has had to bail them out again. A few months ago when the last massive financial bailout was made, Labour ministers gave assurances that they would bring this situation under control, but they have clearly failed. Now, this new £12m bailout will just mean less money for next year.
“Labour now intends to downgrade hospitals and centralise core services rather than get to grips with the financial mismanagement that is causing these problems.”
At best the Welsh Labour Government’s claims of a ‘remarkable achievement’ are misleading. At worst they are completely false. It is more than clear that three health boards have been given last-minute additional funding. It is wrong to claim that all have broken even, if money has been brought forward from next year’s budget. This is effectively a loan. It is definitely a bail-out. This kind of ‘Enron economics’ is absolutely unforgivable.
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams has responded to Health Minister Lesley Griffiths over the financial position of local health boards, calling it 'fantasy accounting'.
I am absolutely flabbergasted that the Health Minister can call this a ‘remarkable achievement’. What’s remarkable is that the Health Minster thinks that this is an achievement.
Local Health Boards have a statutory obligation to balance their books and break even at the end of the financial year. It is clear, even in the Health Minister’s statement, that three of the seven health boards haven’t met their 2011-2012 financial targets. What they are doing is taking money from their 2012-13 allocation to cover up their financial incompetence from 2011-2012.
This is another way for Welsh Government to hide the debts that are building up in the NHS; debts that could add up over time to potentially dangerous levels. This is fantasy accounting at its best – or worst!
– Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
Plaid Cymru has criticised the Welsh Government's claim that local health boards have made a 'remarkable achievement' by meeting financial targets. Plaid’s health spokesperson, Elin Jones said:
The remarkable achievement will be when LHBs are able to break even without having to close services or rely on additional funding like the £145m they had over the past financial year. Plaid Cymru wants to see an NHS that doesn’t have to spend the last 3 months of every financial year in funding crisis having to cancel operations and close services.
Expect an extremely strong reaction to the Welsh Government's claim that local health boards have met their financial targets. 'Disgusting' and 'deceitful' are just two of the milder responses so far. I'll update with political reaction as soon as I have it.
According to the Welsh Government, the organisations running the NHS in Wales have met their financial targets for 2011/12. It had been predicted that local health boards were facing a shortfall of up to £50m despite a £145m bailout given to them last October.
The Welsh Government now says they'll break even but has confirmed that three boards have still needed to bring forward some of next year's budget in order to balance the books. Aneurin Bevan, Cwm Taf and Powys will be allowed to spend around £12m from 2012/13. Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said,
Last October, I said NHS managers will be held to account for the financial management of their organisations – with strong action taken if financial targets were not achieved.
To end the dependency on year-end financial support, the Welsh Government provided the NHS with an additional £145million in October, with a warning that there would be no further support in the financial year.
But she said allowing three boards (Aneurin Bevan to spend some of next year's budget didn't amount to further support.
This was never going to be an easy task, and three of the seven Local Health Boards have been permitted to bring forward a small percentage of next year’s funding to help meet their targets. The amount brought forward represents only 0.2 per cent of the NHS budget, which I am pleased to say has broken even in 2011-12.
“As a condition of this flexibility, my officials have commissioned an external financial review of these organisations’ financial plans.