Wales Election 2016

Leanne Wood: I'll accept 10% savings to re-invest in NHS

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Media captionLeanne Wood says all savings would be ploughed into frontline NHS services

Plaid Cymru's leader has said she would be prepared to accept efficiency savings of 10% in the NHS.

At Tuesday's manifesto launch the party set out plans to find annual efficiency savings of £300m, or around 4%, in the health budget.

Now, in a BBC Wales Today interview, Leanne Wood said she would be prepared to go further.

"I want to save as much in terms of efficiencies as we possibly can in the NHS," she said.

The money from the efficiency savings would be re-invested in the overall NHS budget, which Plaid say would be £925m higher in total in 2020-21 than this year.

Plaid say they would set up an expert commission to find the details of the savings if they win power.

In response to repeated questioning about efficiency savings in the overall health service budget, Ms Wood said: "If business people in that commission identify 10% of efficiency savings in the NHS to plough back into front-line services for staff, for doctors, for nurses then I will take that, but let us see what they come out with first."

Image caption Plaid's election manifesto was launched on Tuesday

The Welsh NHS currently implements 3% efficiency savings every year, covering areas like wages and the cost of medication.

Plaid plans to introduce efficiency savings of £300m in line with a review which was carried out in England by the end of the next assembly term.

The proposed savings amount to 4% of the budget, and are in addition to £300m of savings elsewhere in the public sector and a separate saving of £150m a year by merging back-office functions in the public sector in areas like payroll and IT.

Plaid plans to re-invest the savings back into front-line services.

Ms Wood said: "We are not saying that we would fully implement all the recommendations that those business leaders would identify.

"Political decisions would take place and we would ensure that when savings are made they would not impact on the people who are worst off in our society, but they will tighten up the operation and they will make efficiency savings and things leaner."

Following the interview, a Plaid Cymru spokeswoman said: "It is very clear from the quote used in BBC reports that Leanne Wood was referring to the Budget Savings Commission which has been tasked with finding £200m of savings, and to suggest otherwise is misleading.

"Ms Wood said in the interview that if the commission identifies 10% of those £200m worth of savings within the NHS budget then of course she would be prepared to consider them, and would implement them if it meant more money for front-line NHS services.

"Plaid Cymru yesterday became the first party ever in a Welsh Assembly election to openly publish its financial proposals for the next 5 years."

Nick's analysis: 'Plaid keen to show it is serious about government'

We're not used to hearing Leanne Wood talk about creating lean organisations, bringing in the private sector and tightening up the public sector.

But those are the words being used by the Plaid leader, who has been so closely associated with the language of anti-austerity in the past.

Leanne Wood is keen to stress the savings will be re-directed to the front-line, in other words they are not being cut.

But the decisions behind those savings would inevitably be unpopular, and require major changes to workers, even possibly redundancies.

Savings on this scale are unusual in a Plaid manifesto but the party is keen to show it's serious about being in government and serious about introducing what it says are radical policies.

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