Betsi Cadwaladr health board approves budget with £14.2m deficit

Wrexham Maelor The budget includes £5m towards improving waiting times

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Health bosses in north Wales have approved an interim budget which is set to deliver a net deficit of £14.2m.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is trying to save £42.8m over the next year to break even by 2017.

Several board members told an extraordinary meeting in Wrexham they were "uncomfortable" agreeing the budget.

As part of the budget, a £5m spend towards tackling patient waiting times was approved.

A spend of £3m will also be used towards initiatives to boost care in the community, to try and reduce the number of people being admitted to hospital.

The interim budget will be submitted to the Welsh government on Tuesday, as part of the operational plan for the coming year.

The health board's director of finance Russell Favager said: "All public sector organisations across the UK face similar challenges.

"The budget and financial plan the health board has approved reflect the balance between financial stability and the risk of unintended impact on maintaining safe, high quality care.

"The board has therefore taken the unusual step of agreeing a budget which we know will result in an overspend in the coming year, but which will drive us back towards a long-term position of financial balance."

Betsi Cadwaladr, which is the largest NHS organisation in Wales employing more than 16,000 staff and serving 650,000 people, runs hospitals including Ysbyty Gwynedd, Glan Clwyd Hospital and Wrexham Maelor.

Savings outlined include:

  • £4m by better management of medicines and prescribing
  • £1m by improving efficiency and cut down cancelled appointments in outpatients
  • £1.8m from patients having shorter stays in hospitals
  • £1.5m by focusing on the use of agency and bank staff

"There is no doubt that this budget will create a real challenge in some parts of the health board but it is critical that the board establishes a strong financial grip for [its] long term viability," said Mr Favager, who took over as finance director last August.

In 2013, a damning report by health and financial watchdogs revealed a series of financial and "significant" management failures.

It found operations had been delayed and waiting lists allowed to grow at hospitals to avoid financial problems getting worse while infections had been under-reported.

The health board now has a new chairman and chief executive and the Welsh government has been helping it make improvements.

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