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NHS Budget on target 'overall' says Welsh Govt

Following opposition criticism of the news that three health boards overspent their budgets last year, the Welsh Government has issued the following statement:

Overall, the health and social care budget for Wales came in on target in 2013-14, as a result of hard work, prudent financial management and additional funding from Welsh Government to manage specific pressures in the Welsh NHS. Those health boards and NHS trusts, which have demonstrated they have robust plans in place, now have the flexibility to plan their finances over three years.

The Auditor General has qualified the accounts of three health boards but this does not affect patient care or staff working in the NHS. The Health Minister has made it clear we will not continue to provide additional funding to organisations, which do not have robust plans in place and continue to incur deficits year on year.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

NHS overspend is 'embarrassment' say Tories

Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar says the news that three health boards failed to keep within their budgets is 'an unprecedented embarrassment to Carwyn Jones.' He said,

This is an unprecedented embarrassment to Carwyn Jones’ Labour Government and lays bare the scale of Welsh Labour’s record-breaking NHS cuts.

It provides clear evidence that in spite of multi-million pound in year bailouts, Ministers have not provided the Welsh health service with the cash it needs to deliver the services that patients require.

The Welsh Labour Government has starved the NHS of resources for far too long and ignored successive warnings from a growing chorus of voices that health boards were in the red and couldn't make ends meet.

With waiting times spiralling out of control and the ambulance service failing to perform, it is Welsh patients who are paying the price for Labour's health cuts.

Unless immediate action is taken to secure additional investment in the Welsh NHS, the black hole in Labour's health finances looks only set to get even bigger in the coming years and patients will continue to suffer.

– Darren Millar AM, Shadow Health Minister


NHS budget 'successfully managed' says Minister

The Welsh Government says NHS spending in Wales has been brought under control, despite a warning from the Auditor General over three health boards which overspent their budgets. Health Minister Mark Drakeford said,

I am pleased to be able to confirm today that despite the significant service and financial pressures facing the NHS in Wales and the increasing demands being placed on the Welsh Government’s health and social services budget, expenditure for 2013-14 was successfully managed within the overall resources approved by the National Assembly for Wales.

– Mark Drakeford AM, Health Minister

He's told health boards that they will not be bailed out if they fail to keep within budget. Regarding the three which have overspent, he said, 'this must be addressed.'

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board has a robust and approved plan going forward and the Welsh Government is continuing to work with Hywel Dda University Health Board to ensure they develop robust plans to improve service and financial planning for the future.

The Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery, led by Sir Paul Williams, has recognised the issues facing Powys teaching Health Board and has made recommendations for the future.

– Mark Drakeford AM, Health Minister

Auditor reveals three health boards overspent budgets

Three health boards which overspent their budgets have been given an unprecedented 'qualified' sign-off by the Auditor General for Wales.

The boards are Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Hywel Dda University Health Board and Powys Teaching Health Board.

Two other boards - Betsi Cadwaladr and Cwm Taf - only managed to stay within budget by receiving extra funds from the Welsh Government.

The Auditor General, Huw Vaughan Thomas, said:

I have today signed off the last of the 10 NHS accounts for 2013-14 – three of which I have qualified. This is unprecedented in Wales and something which I will be commenting on in much more detail in the autumn when I publish my annual report into NHS finances.

– Huw Vaughan Thomas, Auditor General for Wales

'Cracks showing' as councils meet financial challenges

Councils in Wales have been able to meet the financial challenges so far - despite considerable pressures - but the cracks are beginning to show.

The Auditor General for Wales says many do not have clear and realistic plans in place to deliver efficiency savings, councils are not basing their plans on sound and appropriate financial information and not all councils are effectively monitoring progress in delivering their plans.

The report Meeting the Financial Challenges Facing Local Government in Wales recommends councils should explore more opportunities to work together and with other public services, to reduce costs and deliver improved outcomes for citizens.


Caerphilly council 'must do better' says auditor

Caerphilly Council workers demonstrating last July when the chief executive was awarded a pay rise. Credit: ITV News

A report into governance failings at Caerphilly County Borough Council says things have improved but more work needs to be done.

The council says it welcomes the findings by the Auditor General for Wales and will act on its recommendations.

The report points to a number of factors that led to failings claiming the appointment of a new chief executive in 2010 led to "a greater appetite for risk and pressure". There were also weaknesses in the way business cases were prepared and in the transparency of reports.

Governance failings at the council were caused by a combination of weaknesses and, while the authority is improving now, it is too early to tell if this progress can be sustained is the conclusion of the special inspection report published today.

The report makes 8 recommendations for improvement, including calls for the council to:

Clarify in an understandable way, the governance and decision-making roles of - the Cabinet; Chief Executive; Corporate Management team; Corporate Directors; scrutiny committees and Audit Committee.

Ensure that it maintains appropriate documents of all decisions made and by whom, to provide assurance that decisions made are appropriate and transparent and strengthen risk management processes.

Auditor General: NHS emergency care "deteriorating"

Waiting times at A & E "have increased". Credit: Tim Ockenden / PA

There has been "a general deterioration" in health services for patients in Wales who require unscheduled medical treatment.

That's according to an audit report out today.

The Auditor General for Wales blames rising demand, workforce challenges and problems with patient flow in hospitals.

But the report says the most recent data shows some encouraging improvements, which now need to be sustained.