Posted: Wed 13th Sep 2023

“Extreme financial challenges” sees escalation of Welsh health boards for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Sep 13th, 2023

The Welsh Government has announced that all health boards will now be in some form of escalation status amid concerns about the extreme financial challenges they are facing.

There are four levels of intervention available, which trigger increased support for NHS organisations from routine arrangements (the lowest intervention level); enhanced monitoring; targeted intervention to special measures (the highest rate of intervention).

The Welsh Government say that due to the incredibly tough financial climate, health boards have been unable to submit financially balanced Integrated Medium-Term Plans.

A report by Audit Wales last week showed Wales’ seven main health boards recorded a collective deficit of £151.9m in the last financial year of 2022-23.

Those health boards, which were not already in a form of intervention for planning and finance, will be escalated to enhanced monitoring.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “It is disappointing that all health boards have been escalated to enhanced monitoring for planning and finance.

“We do not make these decisions lightly and it reflects the very difficult financial position we are in, as a result of inflation and austerity, and the challenges affecting health boards.

“We are seeing operational pressures, long waiting lists, and an extremely challenging financial position in the NHS – but this is not unique to Wales.

“We will support health boards to improve their financial planning positions, but some difficult decisions will need to be made as we work through this very tough financial challenge.

“In the coming weeks and months, together with the NHS, we will be working with the public to outline where savings need to be made to reduce these significant budget deficits.”

Health Minister Eluned Morgan

The Welsh Government has come under fire for today’s announcement, with Plaid Cymru accusing the health minister of “losing grip” on the NHS.

Calling the situation ‘serious’, Plaid Cymru’s Health and Care spokesperson Mabon ap Gwynfor said the Minister should “urgently address” the implications of escalating intervention arrangements and provide a “clear picture of the financial wellbeing of Health Boards” alongside a “meaningful plan” to give patients confidence ahead of increased winter pressures.

Back in the spring, health boards were already warning the Welsh government that their overspend this year would be much higher at about £650m.

Plaid Cymru’s Health and Care spokesperson Mabon ap Gwynfor MS said: “All health boards in Wales are now in some form of escalated measures. This is serious.

“For the Government to publish this as a Written Statement with no opportunity for immediate Senedd scrutiny is a cynical move by a Minister that seems to have lost grip on the entire situation.

“It should not have taken until now for the Minister to realise the gravity of the situation health boards were in and to take action.

“The Health Minister must urgently address the implications of escalating intervention arrangements and provide both a clear picture of the financial wellbeing of Health Boards and a meaningful plan that gives confidence to patients, particularly with undoubted winter pressures approaching.”

Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister, Russell George MS said: “This is a sad indictment of the state of our Labour-run Welsh NHS, after a quarter of a century of successive Labour Health Ministers, every health board in Wales is now at some level of government intervention due to poor performance.

“While it is positive that the Labour Health Minister is taking some action by acknowledging the dire state of our Welsh NHS, I have little faith given the lack of improvements we are seeing in health boards already being monitored that much will change in the coming months.

“Welsh Conservatives brought forward innovative solutions from surgical hubs to diagnostic centres and encouraged Labour to adopt Rishi Sunak’s NHS workforce plan, but instead we continue to see nearly 30,000 waiting for over two years for treatment in our Welsh NHS.

“Don’t forget that Wales has received a record funding settlement from the UK Conservative Government and for every £1 spent on health in England, Wales receives £1.20, yet Labour only spend £1.05 on the health service. Welsh Conservatives would ensure the full £1.20 is spent on our Welsh NHS.”

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