Police conclude investigation into troubled health board’s finances
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
North Wales Police say they’ve concluded an investigation into Betsi Cadwaladr health board’s financial dealings and a final report is now being prepared.
In June the police revealed they were in the ‘process of reviewing’ a damning report into Betsi’s finances and were considering whether to launch a full probe.
It followed accountancy firm Ernst & Young writing a scathing report over financial dealings at Betsi Cadwaladr, including deliberately incorrect entries into their own accounts as well as finding “systematic cultural failings” in the organisation’s finance team.
The report has not been released to the public and a probe by NHS Counter Fraud Wales concluded that no further criminal action would be taken.
But police chief and ex-Betsi chairman Mark Polin said the health board should face a public inquiry or police investigation over the report.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak backed calls for a probe – with other politicians from Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Conservatives joining the call.
Consequently, North Wales Police announced they would make an “assessment” on the calls for a probe.
Today North Wales Police’s Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Harrison said: “We have now concluded a review of all available material, including a significant number of annexes which provided supplementary information.”
He added: “A final report is being prepared which will be subjected to independent legal scrutiny. We are unable to comment further until this has taken place.”
The health board said they couldn’t comment on the police statement.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s AGM takes place tomorrow afternoon at Llandudno’s Trinity Community Centre, followed by a regular board meeting on Thursday.
On the AGM’s agenda is Betsi’s annual report and accounts, which has revealed the health board is facing an initial planned deficit for 2023/24 of £134.2m.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked the health board’s interim CEO Carol Shillabeer about the huge deficit and the challenges ahead.
She said: “Our major issue as a health board has been the increase in costs associated with essential supplies like energy and utilities, along with increased staffing costs from pay awards, which weren’t in the original government funding. Just like everyone’s costs have risen, so have ours. Every health board in Wales is looking at its finances.
“We certainly need to look at the costs relative to temporary and agency staff, while enabling appropriate and safe levels of staffing, and look at how we contract and who we contract with.”
She added: “Ultimately some of the investments we wanted to make will have to be reviewed, and some developments will have to be phased over different periods.”
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