Welsh NHS energy costs to spiral by more than double as councils warn they may not survive

Video report by ITV Cymru Wales national correspondent Rob Osborne

The NHS in Wales is expecting its energy costs to more than doubles over the winter months and into next year.

Figures obtained by ITV Cymru Wales show some health boards are anticipating rises of at least 200%, with councils also expecting significant rises.

Of Wales' seven health boards, four report rises of more than 200%, meaning many hospitals and other NHS sites are due to experience eye watering rises in running costs.

Anticipated energy price increases by Welsh health board

Health Board | 2021/22 price | anticipated price in 2022/23 | Rise

Betsi Cadwaladr: 2021/22 = £13,561,370 | 2022/23 = £32,471,633 | Rise = 139.4%

Cwm Taf: 2021/22 = £8,665,918 | 2022/23 = £28,399,083 | Rise = 278%

Aneurin Bevan: 2021/22 = £10,547,392.71 | 2022/23 = £23,518,691.00 | Rise = 123%

Cardiff and Vale: 2021/22 = £10,524,663.40 | 2022/23 = £31,712,000 | Rise = 201% (Forecasted spend from August 2022 - March 2023)

Swansea Bay: 2021/22 = £ 9,638, 217 | 2022/23 = £ 15,639,000 | Rise = 62%

Hywel Dda: 2021/22 = £6,215,673 | 2022/23 = £19,795,080 | Rise = 218.5%

Powys Teaching: 2021-22 = 1,383,000 | 2022-23 = 4,418,000 | Rise = 219.45%

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Nesta Lloyd-Jones, assistant director at the Welsh NHS confederation, told ITV Cymru Wales: "The NHS was under a huge amount of strain even before the impact of the cost of living crisis.

"The increase in prices will have a detrimental impact on people's health and wellbeing and demand on the NHS's services, and it will have an impact on the NHS's finances.

"Health boards across Wales could see a tripling of gas and electricity costs in the next financial year."

'The most difficult winter on record'

Coming off the back of two winters inundated with Covid cases, the NHS is now bracing for another tough winter.

As well as energy costs, the NHS and other public services are also dealing with the increase in costs of other items such as food and equipment.

However, as it battles these price rises, it says it isn't receiving any further funding to meet those additional demands.

Ms Lloyd-Jones believes NHS leaders are preparing for "the most difficult winter on record".

"It's looking look it's going to be worse than during the pandemic," she continued.

"The NHS isn't getting any extra money from the government. Therefore it will be harder for NHS bodies to break even.

"While they are really working to tackle the NHS backlog and the growing demand for care as a result of the pandemic.

"Difficult choices will have to be made by NHS leaders, so we are calling on the Welsh and UK Government to do more when it comes to financial needs.

"There were already very difficult financial decision to be made prior to the recent announcement of the increase to the energy cap. It's looking at what services are really required and what efficiencies can be made across the NHS."

'We can't close libraries that have already been closed'

Andrew Morgan of RCT council has warned there is next to nothing left to cut when it comes to services

Local authorities also say they are worried that authorities could be tipped over the edge financially, forcing them to possible have to make cuts to workforces and services.

According to figures obtained by ITV Cymru Wales, most councils are forecasting spending on electricity and gas to rise by at least a quarter, while Denbighshire council is forecasting a rise of 53.4%.

Andrew Morgan, who leads Rhondda Cynon Taf council (RCT), told ITV Cymru Wales: "During any year in austerity, the worst gap in funding for RCT was £24 million. Next year, we are currently projecting £36 million.

"We don't have the services, to make service changes to. We can't turn off more street lights than are already turned off.

"We can't change LED lights that have already been changed once. We can't close libraries that have already been closed."

While the UK awaits its next prime minister and what steps either Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss will take to address the cost of living crisis, the Welsh government says it can do no more than it is already doing.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "We are doing all we can, with the resource and powers available to us, to help NHS Wales organisations and local authorities manage the impact of increased energy costs on their overall financial positions.

"However, our budget has not been increased to respond to these increased costs. 

"That's why we continue to call on UK Ministers to take urgent action now to reduce inflation and provide the help families, communities, and public services need during these difficult times."