Contents of leaked report into financial irregularities at health board revealed
Adam Price has shared details of a leaked report into financial irregularities at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) with the Senedd.
The Welsh Government recently declined to publish the Ernst & Young report which sparked a major fraud investigation at BCUHB last December.
The Ernst & Young audit of the Board’s 2021-22 accounts found that £122 million of expenditure was not properly accounted for.
On 18 April it was reported that the NHS Counter Fraud Services Wales investigation of the health board – which is now back in special measures – concluded that no further action would be taken.
The Plaid Cymru leader shocked the Senedd by divulging some of the contents of the document.
“The report says ‘We have found that costs were posted to the incorrect financial year and that the statements were deliberate and the mis-statements were not limited to a single individual or team,’” quoted Mr Price, before adding: “Since this, by definition almost, seems to suggest corporate financial misreporting fraud, why is the NHSs own fraud investigation team concluding that no further action should be taken?
“The original report that triggered this investigation concluded that BCUHB financial accounts were deliberately falsified with millions of pounds of expenditure posted wrongly in 2021-22 in order to avoid losing those funds at the year end.”
“The First Minister said that he understood that NHS Counter Fraud Services Wales had concluded that “no criminal charges needed to be brought.”
The leaked report contains the name of a company which is an approved supplier across the NHS, Mr Price revealed.
“That company altered a proposal document and misled Audit Wales in the process,” he added.
“The report documents financial misreporting fraud in relation to a named service provider involving a seven-figure sum being deliberately attributed to the wrong financial year.
“In order to recognise the company entry in the wrong financial year, a purchase order was made on 31 March 2022 with incorrect details which were intentionally designed so that it would not be sent to the company.”
The purchase order was drafted by a member of the separate NHS procurement services team which is outside of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB).
The NHS Procurement Services Team and the NHS Counter Fraud Services Wales are both divisions of NHS Wales shared services partnership.
Mr Price said this was a conflict of interest and the suggestion of direct involvement by the NHS central procurement team in false representation was “a source of serious concern.”
The Senedd was told that a copy of the report was sent to Welsh Government in January of this year.
“Are you saying that ministers have not seen that report?” asked Mr Price of the First Minister, who confirmed they had not, and shared the reason for that: “There were already accusations in circulation that the report would implicate Welsh Government ministers or civil servants in the improprieties it had discovered.
“The report was not shared with anybody who could potentially be named in that report.
“Instead, it went directly to the head of the ethics and propriety section of Welsh Government who could not possibly be implicated in anything the report said.”
Mr Drakeford added that he was pleased to be able to tell the Senedd that the report is not critical in any way of Welsh Government ministers or civil servants.
The First Minister maintained that the report cannot be published at this time because it would lead to the identification of the individuals involved who are the subject of a disciplinary procedure.
Mr Drakeford said that if Mr Price has concerns about the decision reached with NHS counter fraud, then he should take that up with them.
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