Health chief admits Welsh NHS faces £70m overspend

David Sissling, Chief Executive NHS Wales Credit: National Assembly for Wales

The Chief Executive of the NHS in Wales has admitted that the service will have to find £70m worth of savings if it's to break even at the end of this financial year. David Sissling said the figure which was described as the 'most likely scenario' by the Wales Audit Office last week was 'realistic.'

But he insisted that the local health boards which operate services will break even. He told AMs on the Public Accounts committee that the £70m figure sets out the 'level of pressure' facing the NHS.

£45m surge in demand**

Mr Sissling pinned the blame for the difficulty in reigning in spending in the NHS on unforeseen increased demand which he said was costing it £45m. Most of that demand he said stemmed from an unexpected surge in the numbers of older people moving to Wales from England.

He also told the committee that the Welsh NHS has a contingency fund of £50m which could be used to help out those boards which are struggling most with the increased demand.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar - who's also the chair of the committee which questioned the NHS chief executive - called the situation 'a shambles' and blamed the Health Minister Lesley Griffiths:

Even with stinging cuts to frontline services and massive reductions in support for frontline staff, the likelihood of our NHS breaking even is almost non-existent. No matter how it’s disguised, the contingency fund basically amounts to yet another bailout. That’s something that the Health Minister said would not be needed. On the one hand she tells them there is no option but to break even. On the other hand she stashes millions in the bank for a bailout. Labour’s management of this situation is an absolute shambles.