Wales

Chief David Sissling 'confident' NHS Wales will balance books

  • 18 November 2012
  • From the section Wales
David Sissling
Image caption David Sissling said the Welsh government is working with the health boards to 'analyse their deficits'

The chief executive of the NHS is "increasingly confident" that Wales' health boards will balance their books despite warnings from a committee of AMs.

David Sissling said the Welsh government is working with the health boards to "analyse their deficits".

He said detailed plans have been drawn up to help them to break even.

Last week, figures showed health boards were failing to meet saving targets by a significant margin.

Assembly members warned they were "unconvinced" the health boards would come in on budget.

The government's plan explores all areas of spending, including staffing costs.

"I think there's increasing confidence they will hit their break even targets and do so without in any sense compromising the quality of care," Mr Sissling said.

"They now have very detailed plans for the second half of the year which apply to a number of different areas.

"The figures are, of course very, very large but they represent just one to two per cent of the overall budgets, we need to keep it in proportion to the scale of the overall NHS expenditure."

But in a report, the assembly's finance committee said: "Given the unanswered questions on affordability and the financial track record of local health boards we are unconvinced that LHBs will come in on budget this year."

Mr Sissling claimed that "a very significant increase in demand" for unscheduled care, such as in accident and emergency, particularly amongst the elderly, had made it more difficult for health boards to cut their spending in the first half of the year.

He said there had been a 10% rise in demand for unscheduled care by those aged over 85.

Concerns

Mr Sissling said some health boards faced increased costs due to the high level of agency staff or locum doctors employed to cover staffing shortages.

Health Minister Lesley Griffiths will also carry out an NHS funding review in the coming weeks.

She is likely to recommend budgets for health boards be set over a period of three years, not one, so services can be better planned.

Mr Sissling also defended the work and advice given to health boards by the National Clinical Forum, the body that gives expert advice to health boards.

It comes after concerns were raised after BBC Wales revealed a report on NHS changes in north Wales was re-written to make it more positive.

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