Fraud probe investigates how £122m was accounted for at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board
A north Wales health board has been placed under investigation amid allegations that £122m of expenditure may not have been properly accounted for.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, which covers Anglesey, Gwynedd, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham, has commissioned an accounting firm to review alleged errors in its accounts that were identified by Audit Wales.
These include allegations of the health board's inability to properly demonstrate the existence of £72m of expenses that, it's claimed, were incurred but not paid in the year 2020-21, and insufficient evidence to confirm that a £122m expenditure occurred in the year, or was properly accounted for in the correct period.
As well as the review by major accounting firm Ernst & Young, the NHS Counter Fraud Service is also carrying out further investigation work and Audit Wales' auditor general is working on a separate review of board effectiveness.
The health board said a "small number" of staff from its finance department had been placed on a leave of absence.
A spokesperson for Audit Wales said: "The Auditor General’s audit of the Health Board’s 2021-22 accounts identified a number of significant errors and made three recommendations to the board for improvement, including the need for it to undertake a review to understand why the issues occurred and to strengthen its controls accordingly.
"The Auditor General is aware that in response to his recommendations, the Health Board commissioned Ernst Young to undertake an external review of the circumstances that led to the errors identified. In addition, the Auditor General is also currently undertaking a separate high level review of board effectiveness as part of his annual programme of performance audit work at the Health Board."
The health board was put into special measures in June 2015, and de-escalated from special measures in November 2020.
A spokesperson at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said: “EY (Ernst and Young) have completed an external review of the circumstances that led to the Auditor General’s qualified opinion of the Health Board’s 2021-22 financial accounts. NHS Counter Fraud is now carrying out an investigation, which was requested by Audit Wales, and a small number of staff from our Finance Department are currently taking a leave of absence. As I am sure you will appreciate, we have a duty of care to our staff and no further comment will be made while this investigation is ongoing.”