Welsh NHS: Health boards face budget struggle, says RCN

A nurses' leader says she fears health boards in Wales will struggle to balance their books.

Tina Donnelly, director of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Wales, said acute emergency departments across the country were continuing to see unprecedented calls on their services.

Her comments came as Welsh health boards revealed budget overspends.

It has led some health officials to order cuts to overtime and agency staff spending.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Heath Board (ABM) said on Thursday that it was taking the steps as its current financial position was "a cause of great concern".

In the four months to July, its overspend was £7.5m.

The picture is repeated across Wales.

  • Cardiff and Vale had an overspend for the four months to July of £12m, while it needs to hit a savings target of £72m by the end of the year.
  • For the first three months to June, Betsi Cadwaladr in north Wales, had an £8.6m overspend, with £64.4m in savings to be found.
  • For Cwm Taf, the overspend is £2.5m with a £23.7m saving required
  • Hywel Dda in mid and west Wales has a £4m deficit and £36m in savings to find.
  • Powys health board recorded an overspend of £3.8m with a savings target of £19m.

"The difficulty is that you cannot help being ill in Wales, so the demand is there," said Ms Donnelly.

"Unfortunately for the NHS and the local health boards, they have seen an unprecedented demand in emergency care services continuing, what normally continues as winter pressures going on throughout the summer.

"If that demand is not resourced then there will have to be changes again later in the year if the health boards are to come in on budget."

Public protests

The problems facing health boards has led to some to examine ways to reorganise their services, including the Betsi Cadwaladr board in north Wales.

Hundreds of people turned out on Thursday in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, to protest at the proposals, which would effectively see the town's community hospital closed.

But as a day of meetings with the public in Blaenau got underway, Sally Baxter from the health board stressed that the plans were not all about financial savings.

"These are changes we want to make anyway," she said.

"The financial context we have, let's be plain, is going to mean we have to make some changes to cope.

"But this is about about improvements and making sure that services are fit for the future."

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