North Wales health chiefs’ cost-saving strategy comes under fire from Welsh Conservative AM

A Welsh Conservative AM has criticised the cost-saving strategy of health chiefs in North Wales who’ve presided over a £30m annual budget shortfall.

Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board recently launched a money-saving campaign called #BIGSAVE.

A poster and leaflet (see attached) - forwarded to the Welsh Conservatives - calls on staff to contribute ideas as to how the health board can bring its loss down to “at least £26m this year”.

Closing windows, turning lights off and shopping around are among the cost-cutting measures suggested.

In a video Russ Favager, the health board’s director of finance, can be heard telling staff that “we all have a part to play in this” when referring to the health board’s financial dire straits.

Darren Millar - the Welsh Conservative Assembly Member for Clwyd West - has welcomed the initiative but said “the biggest avoidable cost by far” are those associated with the “incompetence” of senior managers at the health board.

He points to the example of the health board’s use of agency staff. A freedom of information request submitted by the Welsh Conservatives shows that of all Wales’ seven health boards, Betsi Cadwaladr spent the most money on highly expensive agency staff.

Between the financial years 2014/15 and 2015/16, the health board’s spend soared from £31,011,000 to £37,424,000 – a rise of 21%.

Mr Millar said: “While I'm pleased to see the launch of this initiative, the truth is that the health board should have been listening to their staff years ago.

“The biggest avoidable costs by far are those associated with the incompetence of senior managers.

“Whether it's special measures, poor staff management, locum costs or uncertainty over services; Betsi Cadwaladr has cost Welsh taxpayers a small fortune.

“Rather than lumping responsibility for their budget shortfall on frontline staff, Betsi’s health chiefs should be reflecting on their own behaviour.”