“Full accountability and transparency” needed in answering “very, very serious questions” about the handling of struggling health board’s financial irregularities

Plaid Cymru has called for “full accountability and transparency” in the handling of the latest scandal to hit struggling health board, Betsi Cadwaladr.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for health and care says there are “very, very serious questions” that need to be answered.

The BBC has reported that ‘finance officials’ at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) ‘deliberately made incorrect entries into their own accounts’.

The findings were from an investigation by accountancy firm Ernst & Young (EY), commissioned by BCUHB, which found the health board ‘wrongly accounted for millions of pounds’.

Concerns about the deliberate falsification of accounts, detailed within the Ernst & Young report were first raised in the Senedd by Adam Price MS earlier this month.

Mr Price also raised concerns about why NHS Counter Fraud Service Wales had discontinued their investigation into financial irregularities at the board, whether there was a conflict of interest within NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership scheme, and sought assurance that a named company which altered a proposal document – misleading Audit Wales in the process – was no longer a named supplier.

In response, the First Minister said “it’s not for me to explain” the conclusions drawn by NHS counter-fraud team on the basis he is “not responsible for them.”

Responding to the BBC report, Plaid Cymru spokesperson for health and care, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said:

“Plaid Cymru has made it clear that we believe there are very, very serious questions to be answered here, and it is fundamental that the Welsh Government is able to ensure that those concerns are answered satisfactorily. After all, health is devolved to Wales, and responsibility for organisational control of the health service lies with the Welsh Government.”

“We need clarity over why, on the one hand, we have a report by EY that provides evidence of deliberate falsification of accounts, and deliberate alterations of financial documents, including by a member of the separate NHS procurement services team. Yet on the other hand, a decision was reached by NHS Counter Fraud Service Wales that no further action would be needed.

“At the same time, we also need clarity on how apparent conflicts of interest were managed between the NHS procurement services team and NHS Counter Fraud Service Wales, both of which are divisions of NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership.

“This is a gravely serious matter, and Welsh Government must provide reassurance that they are dealing with this in an open and transparent manner. When it comes to the handling of public money, particularly with regards to a health board that has recently fallen back into special measures, full accountability and transparency in process is of paramount importance.”