Six local health boards facing combined £230m deficit

Last year, four health boards needed extra money from the Welsh government to break even

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Six of Wales' seven local health boards are predicting a combined deficit of around £230m this financial year.

A BBC Wales analysis reveals they face financial gaps of up to £66m.

Opposition AMs are concerned about the impact on patients, while a patients' group called for transparency.

It comes after the public spending watchdog warned that cash bailouts from the Welsh government so health boards can balance their books were "not sustainable".

The auditor general said four boards will face bigger deficits because of loans they received last year.

Cardiff and Vale health board has the biggest deficit to make up at £66.75m. It has an additional debt to the Welsh government of £12m about which it is discussing repayment terms

It is followed by Betsi Cadwaladr LHB in north Wales which predicts a gap is £64.6m

Analysis: Welsh NHS cash challenge

Aneurin Bevan LHB forecasts a shortfall of of £48m, Cwm Taf £28.4m, Hywel Dda £12.8m and Powys Teaching LHB £8.1m.

The total budget of the NHS in Wales is around £5 billion.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR PATIENTS? Carol Lamyman-Davies, director of the Board of Community Health Councils in Wales

The fact that some health boards have had to draw upon the next year's financial reserves to break even shows that there are no more bail outs possible for the NHS in Wales.

What it does highlight to patients is that many services are unsustainable at this time. Change is inevitably going to happen.

Health boards need to be open and transparent about the increasingly difficult problems they are facing. This isn't just about lack of funds either.

There are difficulties surrounding the recruitment of suitably qualified doctors to some specialties such as paediatrics, emergency medicine and psychiatry.

The health care workforce is ageing and will likely retire within the next decade. The population of Wales is also living longer placing greater strain on the NHS.

The quality and accessibility of safe, sustainable services must be everyone's first priority for the people of Wales in these austere financial times.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg said it was unable to provide a figure.

Break even

Aneurin Bevan, Cwm Taf, Cardiff and Vale and Powys received a combined £24m in Welsh government loans to help them break even at the end of the last financial year.

The Welsh government denies the money is a bailout and says it has ordered LHBs to pay it back.

Health Minister Lesley Griffiths revealed last month that she had stepped in to help three of the boards break even.

The Conservatives demanded to know why her statement in May did not refer to the £12m received by Cardiff and Vale.

The Welsh government later pointed out that the finance minister had disclosed the money publicly at a meeting of the cross-party finance committee in February.

Details of the loan were contained in a report from the Wales Audit Office (WAO) on Tuesday.

It said health boards were under financial pressure while demands on services were rising.

Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black said: "I am seriously concerned about the state of LHBs finances for this new financial year.

"If four LHBs failed to balance their books last year after cutting services and making huge savings, the challenge is going to be even harder this financial year and I am worried that patient care and safety will suffer.

The Welsh government says the WAO recognises the achievement of NHS organisations in meeting their financial targets and that ministers had taken a "prudent course of action" to support them.

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