Welsh NHS could face 'significant financial pressures' due to Covid pandemic, report finds

Experts says 'tough spending decisions' in the future following the pandemic. Credit: PA Images

There could be 'significant financial pressures' on the Welsh NHS because of the Covid-19 pandemic and a predicted funding shortfall of over £500 million, a report suggests.

Academics at Cardiff University are warning that Welsh Government ministers face some 'tough spending decisions' in the future.

The report by the university's Wales Governance Centre says the shortfall between projected costs and funding could be as much as £740 million in 2022/2023.

The authors looked at pre-pandemic NHS spending trends and projected costs from Wales's ageing population.

It also analysed how the pandemic will cause additional funding pressures for the NHS over the next Senedd term.

The report suggests there could be 'significant financial pressures' on the Welsh NHS because of the pandemic. Credit: PA Images

Guto Ifan, a researcher on the Wales Fiscal Analysis project, said: "While the Welsh Government appears to be in a position to meet funding pressures this year, in the face of significant post-pandemic spending pressures, the outlook for the Welsh budget is relatively austere.

"Current UK Government spending plans contain no Covid-19-related funding for years after 2021-22 and assume NHS spending in England returns to pre-Covid-19 multi-year spending plans next year.

"Only passing on health-related consequentials to the NHS would likely fall short of funding pressures but would still entail cutting most other areas of the budget in 2022-23.

"The next Welsh Government will need to balance these additional pressures against huge funding challenges elsewhere in the budget and the potential use of devolved tax levers."

The Welsh Government has already allocated additional funds for the NHS due to the pandemic, which included £1.2 billion in May 2020 to set up field hospitals and the test and trace programme.

There was also an additional £800 million "stabilisation package" for the NHS.