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Health boards face ‘major challenge’ to contain spending in Wales

NHS Wales is facing a funding crisis after the Wales Audit Office said health boards had a combined deficit of £69m six months into the current financial year.

The WAO also warned there were no signs of a let up in financial pressures in the near future as there was a risk health boards would not deliver on their efficiency plans.

The letter from Huw Vaughan Thomas, auditor general for Wales, said: ‘NHS bodies face a major challenge in the next six months just to contain their extra spending against plan.’

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: ‘Health boards across Wales have already responded to the financial challenge by delivering significant savings against a background of unprecedented and unforeseen pressures on the health service in the first half of this financial year.

‘They are currently forecasting to deliver a further £220 million savings this year in addition to the £600 million they delivered over the last two years.’

Welsh GPC chair Dr David Bailey said the overspend was a real problem, but that GP funding would be a safeguarded: ‘Cuts are effectively deeper in Wales secondary to the Barnett formula, so yes there is a real problem though GMS remains cash limited and effectively ring fenced.’

The Barnett formula is a mechanism used by The Treasury in the United Kingdom to adjust the amounts of public expenditure allocated to the devolved nations.