NHS in Wales needs to change, says auditor general

13 Oct 14
The NHS in Wales will need radical change in the way some services are provided, the auditor general for Wales has warned.

By Mark Smulian | 14 October 2014

The NHS in Wales will need radical change in the way some services are provided, the auditor general for Wales has warned.

In his NHS Wales: Overview of Financial and Service Performance 2013/14 report, Huw Vaughan Thomas found that NHS Wales broke even in 2013/14, despite three health boards being over-spent.

However, this was achieved because the Welsh Government’s Department of Health and Social Services received an additional £200m of funding from other departments and reserves, and NHS bodies made significant financial savings.

The report warned that NHS Wales will struggle to make improvements to services in the future without transformational change.

‘Despite significant effort, NHS bodies are finding savings increasingly difficult to manage and this was underlined by three NHS bodies having their accounts qualified earlier this year,’ Vaughan Thomas added.

Despite the break even being achieved, ‘what is clear is that the NHS cannot continue as it is, some tough decisions will need to be made to change the way services are provided and this will require the support of politicians’, he added. 

In particular, he urged NHS bodies to better quantify and prioritise capital expenditure, improve the quality of the three-year integrated plans and gain a better understanding of their workforce savings plans. 

Service performance was mixed and many key targets, such as those for waiting times for planned and emergency services, were not regularly achieved.

‘It is good to see performance in areas such as prevention is improving but some cancer and stroke care targets are not being met and waiting times have generally got worse,’ the auditor general said.

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