'Marbella man' advisor leaves struggling Welsh health board

  • Published
Views of MarbellaImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Philip Burns lived in the exclusive Spanish resort of Marbella

An advisor who sometimes worked from his Spanish home while costing a struggling health board almost £2,000 a day has had his contract terminated.

Philip Burns was dubbed 'Marbella Man' as he did work from his Costa del Sol home while advising a Welsh health board which is in special measures.

It emerged Betsi Cadwaladr health board planned to pay him £360,990 for a nine month contract.

The board says his contract has ended early due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He has now left his interim recovery director contract two months early.

Betsi Cadwaladr has been in special measures - the highest form of Welsh Government intervention - since a damning report in June 2015.

Mr Burns was appointed by the north Wales health board's former chief executive Gary Doherty in a bid to revive Betsi's fortunes.

The board then confirmed it was employing Mr Burns, through healthcare consultancy firm Hunter Healthcare, on a nine month contract worth £360,990, or £1,990 a day.

Betsi described the sum at the time as "market rate for this level of expertise".

The recovery programme Mr Burns was in charge of was supposed to yield savings and efficiencies for the organisation, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

But the board's projected deficit to the end of the 2020/21 financial year is expected to be around £40m.

The board is also expecting additional pressures of around £10m caused by the coronavirus pandemic as it looks to make savings of £45m this financial year.

Image caption,
Management consultants have been asked to help improve health services across north Wales

It emerged in a freedom of information request that the Welsh Government was to finance £350,000 towards payments made to Mr Burns.

His post was one of 38 management consultant roles uncovered by Plaid Cymru AM Llyr Gruffydd.

"At the same time they were paying Mr Burns, they tried to introduce changes to thousands of nurses' rotas that would have meant NHS staff having to work an extra shift a month for nothing," said Mr Gruffydd.

"The savings from that plan, which were shelved but not abandoned by the board after opposition by trade unions and Plaid Cymru, would have been less than Mr Burns was being paid for his nine-month stint as 'recovery director'.

"It now emerges that his contract has been terminated with two months to go. So the positive news is that the board has saved £70,000, but they've paid him almost £300,000 in eight months to achieve what exactly?

"I understand that the focus of both the board and Welsh Government must be to deal with Covid-19 in the short term, but at some stage we must have answers about the £5m spent in recent years on these management consultants in north Wales."

Mr Burns' contract was due to expire in June, but a spokesman for the health board confirmed it had been finished early and his contract had not been paid up in full.

"The health board took the decision to stand down the recovery programme for a period of time to focus on the Covid-19 response," said the spokesman.

In all, Mr Burns was due to earn more than £360,000 for his nine-month-stint, while conducting 20% of it from his home in Marbella.

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.