Wales

Betsi Cadwaladr criticised by Plaid AM over £2,000-a-day consultant

Betsi Cadwaladr hospitals in north Wales
Image caption Management consultants have been asked to help improve health services across north Wales

A health board has been accused of spending more money on a management consultant than it would save by cutting paid breaks for nursing staff.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) confirmed it was paying £1,990 a day for an "interim recovery director".

It described the sum as "market rate for this level of expertise".

It comes as nursing staff were told paid 30 minute shift breaks could be cut in a bid to save £25,000 a month.

Plaid Cymru's north Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd said it raised questions for board bosses.

The board confirmed it was employing Philip Burns, through healthcare consultancy firm Hunter Healthcare, on a nine month contract worth £360,990.

A Freedom of Information request by Mr Gruffydd to BCUHB revealed it had also taken on a further four temporary directors from consultancy firms.

It has set aside a budget of £538,440 for those individuals, it added.

Image caption Nurses are being told their paid 30 minute breaks could be cut

The appointments followed recommendations from a National Assembly committee, which suggested outside expertise should be brought in to help improve services at the board.

The board has been under partial Welsh Government control since being placed in special measures in 2015, following a damning report.

A health board official said it was paying the "market rate for this level of expertise" and added interim staff had been appointed "in accordance with our standing financial instructions to undertake specific roles for a short period of time".

But Mr Gruffydd said: "Further questions need to be asked about senior management's decision making and their use of outside management consultants earning astronomical rates."

He added he was especially critical of the payments following the debate on changes to nursing rotas.

"The health board's plan to change nurse rotas will save less than they're paying this one person [the interim recovery director] every month."

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