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Measures agreed to claw back some of the deficit facing Swansea health board

SOME types of pay and spending will be reduced at Swansea Bay University Health board to claw back some of the end-of-year deficit it is facing.

The temporary measures affect what a health board report termed variable pay and discretionary non-pay spending for the remainder of 2019-20.

Along with other actions, this should leave the board £12.3 million in the red on March 31, 2020 – a healthier prospect than the £15.9 million deficit it had been facing.

Health board members could have considered tougher savings measures at their latest meeting, but feared they would adversely impact on unscheduled care and staff morale.

Referring to the revised deficit figure, health board chief executive Tracy Myhill said: “I don’t like it, but it’s where we are.”

The decision to trim back the forecast deficit to £12.3 million is not expected to impact on health board performance commitments in planned care and unscheduled care waiting times, which were agreed in October.

These include that 80.4% of patients arriving at emergency departments by the end of the financial year are seen, referred, treated or discharged within four hours of arrival. The current figure is around 73%.

Another commitment is a hefty reduction in the number of patients waiting more than 36 weeks for planned care – known as referral to treatment – which currently stands at just under 4,500.

Mrs Myhill said: “We could spend less on RTT (referral to treatment), but we don’t want to go there.”
The health board’s £1.1 billion budget has been given a £51 million boost by the Welsh Government this year but unscheduled care pressures and other costs – faced across NHS Wales – have weighed heavily on the financial position.

The Welsh Government, which intervenes in the health board’s operations after placing it in “targeted intervention” status three years ago, has been working with health board executives, along with accountants from KPMG. “It’s acknowledged that we won’t break even,” said Mrs Myhill.

The health board’s workforce director, Hazel Robinson, said: “The balance the executive board is trying to achieve is about making sensible judgements in the short term.”

Finance director Lynne Hamilton said: “I don’t think the board could do a great deal better than £12.3 million. I think it’s the best we can do.”

Mrs Myhill asked for some flexibility on the £12.3 million figure due to the ongoing KPMG work, but said that any large variation would be brought back to the board for consideration.

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