Wales

NHS charity Awyr Las spending referred to watchdog

Ysbyty Gwynedd Image copyright Google
Image caption Awyr Las is based at Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor

An NHS charity has been referred to the Charity Commission after pledging £450,000 to pay for a staff engagement programme.

The money was agreed as part of a bid to lift Betsi Cadwaladr health board out of special measures, imposed to raise its standards.

Aberconwy Conservative AM Janet Finch-Saunders referred the health board's charity, Awyr Las, to the commission.

The health board said staff education was a "legitimate expenditure".

Awyr Las - or Blue Skies - receives donations to provide everything from life-changing equipment to comfy chairs in emergency departments.

The staff engagement strategy was approved by the health board in 2016.

It was produced at the insistence of the Welsh Government as one of the improvements it had to make after it put the organisation into special measures.

'Scrutiny'

In March, Ms Finch-Saunders raised the charity spending money on the engagement programme with Health Minister Vaughan Gething.

In reply, he told her the use of charitable funds have to "meet the requirements of the Charities Acts and the Charity Commission guidance for England and Wales and is subject to scrutiny" by the local health board's charitable funds committee.

Ms Finch-Saunders has now called for an investigation, saying the financial commitment may have been made "erroneously".

The Charity Commission has been asked to comment.

The health board said on Tuesday that any donation made to a specific ward or service goes directly to that department.

"While the health board already provides a range of training, charitable funds can add extra amenities and support additional training to expand staff knowledge and bring new ideas into the health board," a spokeswoman said.

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