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Warning systems must be in place if LHBs move to three year budgets - Peter Black AM

2013 Hydref 1 3:31 PM

Peter Black portraitCommenting on the Welsh Government's National Health Service Finance Bill that seeks to give Welsh health boards three years to balance budgets instead of one year, Peter Black, Welsh Liberal Democrats Finance Spokesperson, said:

"The constant cycle of end of year bailouts has been completely unsustainable. Therefore it makes sense for this system to be altered. It will hopefully allow local health boards an opportunity to plan for the longer term, rather than being forced to make sharp unplanned cuts at the end of each year. These cuts affect patient care and safety.

"My main concern with three year budgets is that the Welsh Labour Government and health boards will be irresponsible and stack up a huge amount of debt. Health Boards will only receive allocations annually and any deficits will have to be funded on that basis. As this is a rolling three year budget period this could mean that debts become unsustainable and services people rely on will be cancelled anyway because there will be no money left. This is what has happened in the past and I am not convinced that this leopard will be able to change its spots in the future.

"The Welsh Labour Government has past form on fantasy accounting when it comes to NHS finances. If this bill is successful, the Health Minister must set in place a transparent warning system where we will be able to monitor whether the accounts of the LHB are on track or not. We cannot have a situation where the health service will come to a crippling halt because of Labour's financial irresponsibility."