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Fears for patient care in Wales

21st July 2011

Fears have been raised over patient services as health boards across Wales face making unprecedented savings.

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Wales’ seven health boards have not yet identified how they can find almost a third of the £455.7m total saving needed.

Among them are Hywel Dda and Cardiff and Vale University health boards, which have yet to find £39m and £31.5m of savings respectively.

Professor Marcus Longley, director of the Welsh Institute for Health and Social Care, at the University of Glamorgan, said such savings cannot be achieved without affecting patient care because there is not that amount of money not needed in the system.

“In terms of hitting patient care, it seems as if there are two or three phases to this – the first is freezing and not filling vacancies,” he said.

“This is only sustainable for a relatively short period of time because some of these posts are critical. The second stage is stopping doing all those things we should have stopped doing some time ago.”

A third phase, he suggested, was a choice between making serious and strategic changes in the way services are provided.

Helen Birtwhistle, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, pledged that despite the financial challenges, quality and safety of care would remain the top priority.

The Welsh Government said the NHS remained its key priority.

“Despite the UK Government’s significant cuts to the Welsh Government budget, we continue to invest 43% – the largest single proportion of our overall budget – on health and social services,” said a spokesman.

 

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