Health minister Eluned Morgan
Health minister Eluned Morgan

Three of Wales’ health boards face increased Welsh Government scrutiny amid concerns about planning, finances and emergency care.

Eluned Morgan, Wales’ health minister, told the Senedd she has escalated intervention at Aneurin Bevan, Hywel Dda and Swansea Bay University Health Boards (UHBs).

She announced new oversight guidance which has five tiers: routine arrangements; area of concern; enhanced monitoring; targeted intervention; and special measures, the highest.

Baroness Morgan warned that all health organisations are facing very real financial challenges, with their budgets worth less today due to inflation. 

She stressed that health boards must meet financial targets to help balance the overall Welsh budget, saying: “That’s why we do have to keep breathing down their necks.”

Aneurin Bevan UHB

Baroness Morgan told the chamber that Aneurin Bevan UHB has made insufficient progress on tackling its growing financial deficit.

She said the Gwent health board, which covers Caerphilly County Borough, will be placed into targeted intervention – the second highest tier of escalation – for finance and planning.

The minister raised concerns about the A&E department at The Grange University Hospital, saying enhanced monitoring will be introduced for emergency care.

The Grange University Hospital, Cwmbran

She announced an additional £14m to extend and reconfigure parts of the £350m hospital which opened its doors in 2020. 

Baroness Morgan said: “It’s my expectation that this considerable investment will result in improved patient safety, comfort and privacy.

“I’m expecting the organisation to respond to ensure further improvements are made.”

Russell George, the Conservatives’ shadow minister, raised concerns that a hospital built only four years ago requires a £14m expansion.

Baroness Morgan pointed to soaring demand, saying: “Nobody would have foreseen that.”

Hefin David said while it is naturally concerning that any health board requires targeted intervention, it is as a result of huge UK-wide financial pressures on the NHS.

Caerphilly Senedd Member Hefin David speaking in the Senedd
Caerphilly’s Labour MS Hefin David

The Labour MS for Caerphilly stressed that the Welsh Government has protected the NHS budget as he welcomed the extra £14m to resolve A&E issues at The Grange.

“I will be contacting the health board for more information on how this will be used to help alleviate the problems,” said Dr David.

‘No change’

Baroness Morgan did not make any changes to the escalation level of Wales’ other four health boards, with Betsi Cadwaladr UHB staying in special measures.

In September, all health boards were placed in enhanced monitoring for planning and finance after failing to balance their books.

Racking up a combined deficit of £150m in 2022-23, six of Wales’ seven boards breached their statutory duty to break even over a three-year period.

Cardiff and Vale, Powys and Cwm Taf Morgannwg remain in enhanced monitoring for planning and finance, with the latter also in targeted intervention for performance.

In a statement to the Senedd on Tuesday January 23, Baroness Morgan said: “These decisions have not been taken lightly.

“They’re the best way to support these NHS organisations and they will improve the quality of service and care people receive in Wales from the health service in their local area; and, ultimately, improve patients’ clinical outcomes.”