Welsh Government boosts funding for Swansea Bay health board
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
Swansea Bay University Health Board is getting more funding in recognition of deprivation levels in the area – a decision described as “a very significant moment” by its chairwoman.
Emma Woollett said the funding increase meant the organisation, which has reported financial deficits in recent years, could forecast a balanced budget and invest more money in services.
Speaking at a health board meeting on July 28, she said: “Welsh Government have acknowledged the shortfall of our funding allocation for the deprivation levels of our population and have agreed an uplift in our recurrent allocation to allow us to focus on improving the population health of Swansea Bay.”
Ms Woollett said financial discipline was still required for the health board to forecast a balanced position this year and for future years.
“This is undoubtedly a very significant moment for the health board,” she said.
“Welsh Government’s decision to support our case reflects greater confidence in us as a board and the organisation as a whole, and that’s a huge achievement for the team and every member of the health board.
“Having a balanced financial plan means that we are no longer saving to fund a deficit. Every penny we save can go into investment in our services, which is a position which I think we all wanted to be in for some time.”
Ms Woollett said it put the health board, which runs hospitals and other health services in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, spends around £1.4 billion a year and employs nearly 12,500 people, in significantly greater control of its own destiny.
She added: “It is imperative that we continue to give confidence to Welsh Government, our local partners and most importantly of all the local population we serve.”
The extra funding will allow the health board to fulfil a statutory requirement to produce a document called an integrated medium-term plan.
This plan provides an overview of how a health board is performing against national and key local measures. Swansea Bay University Health Board will now submit a revised plan to Welsh ministers which factors in the extra funding.
Mark Hackett, the health board’s chief executive, wrote in his report to fellow board members: “Clearly, we will be held to account to achieve financial balance this year and in future, but the opportunity now to strive to achieve the symbolic ‘£0’ or better is a tremendous psychological boost for all our leaders and teams.”
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