Clwyd West MS Darren Millar has this afternoon challenged the Welsh Health Minister over the latest damning report concerning Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and asked what action she is taking “to ensure that all those responsible for the behaviour identified in the report are going to be held accountable for their actions”.
In this afternoon’s meeting of the Welsh Parliament, Darren told the Minister that “people across North Wales are pretty angry at the moment about what is happening in the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board”, and urged her to publish an action plan outlining the work that she’s now going to commission to make sure that the matters unveiled in the Ernst & Young forensic report of accounting issues at the board are “properly investigated and, where necessary, referred to the police for criminal investigation too”.
He also criticised the Minister for not acting sooner, given that she was given a copy of the report four months ago.
Speaking in the Senedd Chamber, he said:
“I was given an anonymous copy of the Ernst & Young forensic report of accounting issues at the board, and I have to say it is absolutely damning. Its findings include false accounting and the manipulation of documents, which amount to fraud. These were done in the knowledge of senior members of staff at the health board, including the Chief Executive and the Finance Director. The junior staff who pushed back against these appalling practices were overruled by their superiors and there, then, were deliberate efforts to hide those actions from Audit Wales and the forensic investigators from Ernst & Young. It absolutely stinks.
“The report still isn't in the public domain -in spite of the significant public interest in these issues.
“It's been four months since that report was published and I cannot fathom why, in that period, those individuals who were responsible for these actions have not been dismissed from that health board.
“You've had this report for four months, Minister - four months it's been lying around. I find it, frankly, very disturbing that you're only just starting to have these conversations about whether there are wider implications when, quite clearly, the report implies that there are wider implications because this goes beyond Betsi into an organisation that has multimillion pound contracts across the Welsh NHS, and also into the heart of the NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership, with the head of procurement in that organisation inappropriately drafting purchase orders.
“I think the public, quite rightly, will want to have some assurances that the Welsh Government is now going to look at every single health board in Wales to make sure that the sorts of practices, which didn't just occur in a single year in the Betsi Cadwaladr health board - the report refers to this being at least across a period of two financial years - haven't occurred elsewhere. So, when will you publish an action plan as to the work that you're now going to commission to make sure that these matters are properly investigated and referred to the police for criminal investigation too?”