The Welsh Government has announced that all health boards will now be in some form of escalation status amid concerns about the extreme financial challenges they are facing caused by years of UK Government austerity measures and record levels of inflation.
There are four levels of intervention available, which trigger increased support for NHS organisations from routine arrangements (the lowest intervention level); enhanced monitoring; targeted intervention to special measures (the highest rate of intervention).
Due to the incredibly tough financial climate, health boards have been unable to submit financially balanced Integrated Medium-Term Plans. Those health boards, which were not already in a form of intervention for planning and finance, will be escalated to enhanced monitoring.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said:
It is disappointing that all health boards have been escalated for planning and finance. We do not make these decisions lightly and it reflects the very difficult financial position we are in, as a result of inflation and austerity, and the challenges affecting health boards.
We are seeing operational pressures, long waiting lists, and an extremely challenging financial position in the NHS – but this is not unique to Wales.
We will support health boards to improve their financial planning positions, but some difficult decisions will need to be made as we work through this very tough financial challenge. In the coming weeks and months, together with the NHS, we will be working with the public to outline where savings need to be made to reduce these significant budget deficits.
Significant improvements have been made at Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board (CTMUHB), which have enabled the Minister to reduce the intervention level from targeted intervention to enhanced monitoring for maternity and neonatal services. She said the change demonstrates the huge efforts made by staff at the units to turn around a very challenged department.
The governance, leadership and culture, trust and confidence functions at the health board have also been de-escalated to enhanced monitoring following significant progress in addressing the concerns and recommendations raised in the 2019 Audit Wales and Healthcare Inspectorate Wales review.
The Health Minister added:
While there are still some areas where further improvements are required, it is clear progress continues to be made across Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board. I am encouraged by these improvements and would like to thank all the staff at the health board for all their hard work in supporting and transforming maternity and neonatal services and governance, leadership and culture, trust and confidence functions.
New escalation levels of the other NHS Health Boards, trusts and Special Health Authorities in Wales have also been set out today.