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Health board predict just under £25m deficit for next year’s budget

Bronllys hospital near Brecon is the headquarter of Powys Teaching Health Board (Pic: Google Streetview)

POWYS Teaching Health Board (PTHB) has revealed that it will be setting a deficit budget of just under £25 million for the 2024/2025 financial year.

This is more than double the £12 million deficit they are predicting for this year.

The budget for next year is set to be £421 million.

At a board meeting on Wednesday, March 20 members were told of the grim financial outlook while discussing their new five year integrated plan.

Reasons behind the financial issues includes the county’s ageing population which is predicted to see one third of residents aged 65 or above in 10 year’s time.

This will put stress on the NHS as many older people will be living with long term health conditions.

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PTHB director of finance Pete Hopgood said: “There’s a significant financial challenge and we’re unable to deliver a balanced plan to meet the three year break even statutory duty.”

He explained that a lot of time had been spent scrutinising the economic assumptions around inflation, growth of the economy and the “ability” of PTHB to lessen the financial pressure and deliver savings.

Mr Hopgood said: “Our plan has a deficit of £24.95 million and we have a savings target of £7.9 million.”

He believed that the board would need to look “in year” at improving the financial situation by finding further “savings opportunities.”

Board member Mick Gianassi asked what the “implications” of the deficit would be for PTHB.

He wondered if this would mean the health board would need to dip into reserve budgets, borrow money or delay any building or improvement works.

Mr Hopgood: “As a health board we cannot borrow, and we do not hold reserves.”

He explained that if the plan is agreed “strategic cash support” will be received from the Welsh Government and would cover the “fact” that PTHB’s: “outgoings will be more than our incomings.”

Newly appointed chief executive Hayley Thomas explained that PTHB already receives “enhanced monitoring” from the Welsh Government on finance and planning.

Ms Thomas said “There could be a scenario where we will face escalation as a result of this plan, and we need to be prepared for that eventuality.

“I’m not afraid of increased escalation because it comes with further scrutiny and support.”

She added that it would show the government that PTHB is: “doing all we can.”

Ms Thomas said that the level of savings in this plan is “substantial” and that it needs to “feel achievable” from the perspective of front line staff.

Ms Thomas added that it would be a “reasonable ask” if the Welsh Government expected PTHB to get back into a balanced position quicker than the five year period.

Hayley Thomas – the new chief executive of Powys Teaching Health Board

Board chairman, Carl Cooper stressed that senior staff and board members had worked together on the plan which is a “route map to sustainability.”

Board member Ronnie Alexander said: “This is our best offer, and we need to be open and honest about that and to me it satisfies the public duty.

“It’s better to do that than submit something that’s not based on practical reality.”

He believed it would be important next year to show “sustained progress” on achieving improvements.

The board unanimously approved the plan which now be submitted to the Welsh Government.

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