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Four out of five Welsh health authorities in deficit

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 20 March 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:758
  1. Roger Dobson
  1. Abergavenny

    Health authorities and trusts in Wales have been told they must put their finances in order. The Welsh health minister, Jon Owen Jones, has warned them that his officials are closely monitoring the situation in the wake of an audit on the financial health of trusts and authorities in the principality.

    “I take this audit report extremely seriously, and while the responsibility for running their affairs lies with the health authorities and trusts themselves, I want to make it clear that the Welsh Office is actively involved in discussions with them to ensure that determined steps are taken to place the NHS in Wales on a sound financial footing,” he said.

    The National Audit Office report showed that four of the five Welsh health authorities had reported deficits and that overall, the financial position of NHS trusts in Wales had worsened during the year. It is understood that a dozen trusts are forecasting debts for the end of the current financial year.

    The report and its warnings come only weeks before the elections for the Welsh National Assembly in May. The assembly will spearhead health policy in the principality and may have to deal with the overspending problem.

    Jones was quick to point out that an additional £164m ($262m) has been put into the NHS in Wales since the Labour government came into office and a further £1bn would be spent over the next three years as a result of the comprehensive spending review.

    He said that the Welsh Office was working closely with health authorities on short term cash needs, medium term recovery schemes, and plans for sustainability in the long term. Trusts in deficit either have recovery plans or are working on them monitored by the Welsh Office.

    Meanwhile, the Welsh Office is predicting that a reconfiguration of trusts which takes place on 1 April will over time deliver savings of up to £10m a year.

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