Welsh NHS set for overspend

Tories warn of NHS overspend
Tories warn of NHS overspend

The financial crisis in the Welsh NHS is set to be worse than expected, the Welsh Conservatives warn.

The party cites reports that NHS managers are forecasting a £33 million overspend for the past year.

To remedy the problem, Welsh Conservatives argue NHS trusts need greater financial autonomy, matched by a need to cut bureaucracy and assembly-led targets.

Health spokesman Jonathan Morgan said: "With spending going through the roof people around Wales will rightly ask how they have been able to spend taxpayers' money without demonstrating the improvements they promised.

"We need to give a greater degree of freedom to NHS trusts and the flexibility to manage their resources according to their needs and not the needs of government."

But speaking during prime minister's questions, Tony Blair defended the state of the Welsh NHS. There has been increased investment in the NHS in Wales, Mr Blair told the Commons, pointing to ten more hospital schemes, reduced waiting times and improved treatment.

The prime minister also took the opportunity to defend Labour's record on the NHS across the UK. The annual winter report shows that the NHS is no longer afflicted by an annual "winter crisis", in contrast to the Tory years.

"The truth is the patient is getting a better deal in the NHS Today," argued Mr Blair, attributing this to increased investment.

Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru have been focusing their attention on palliative care. Plaid leader Ieuan Wyn Jones welcomed news of an additional £2 million hospice funding, but said Plaid would increase funding to £10 million a year if elected.

"Plaid is determined to ensure the provision of palliative care in both home and hospice settings is expanded and properly funded," he said.

Mr Jones added: "We recognise the tremendous efforts made by the voluntary sector and want to see this continue, however the government must undertake a greater share of the funding for the care of terminally ill patients."


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