North Wales Police making ‘assessment’ over concerns raised on health board financial matters
North Wales Police has said it is set to make an “assessment” on concerns raised over financial issues at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
As North.Wales has previously reported, it has been claimed in the Senedd that an unreleased report on the region’s health board “seems to suggest corporate financial misreporting fraud”.
Leaked copies of the report appear to be in circulation, with the Daily Mail referring to it as “spanning 95 gruesome pages“.
In a statement released last night, Detective Chief Superintendent Gareth Evans said: “We are aware of media reports regarding financial matters at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and have also had concerns raised with us by individuals.
“We are liaising with colleagues in other agencies regarding enquiries already undertaken in order to make an assessment and will issue an update in due course.”
The report by Ernst and Young Report is not yet public, and the Welsh Government has refused a Freedom of Information request for it to be released.
The issue was raised in the Senedd last week at First Minister’s Questions by the leader of the Welsh Conservatives.
Andrew RT Davies said: “First Minister, the Ernst and Young report seems to be doing the rounds. I appreciate it’s a confidential report, and it was brought up last week in this chamber, and you confirmed that you had not had sight of that report.
“I hope that you went from this chamber and made yourself familiar with the report; I know the Health Minister has had sight of it.
“There are some damning assessments of the function that the health board undertook in awarding contracts and conducting genuine business of the health board in spending public money.
“Can you give us what your assessment is of that report today, please, because it does warrant action on behalf of the Welsh Government to instil confidence that this type of behaviour will not be repeated again?”
First Minister Mark Drakeford replied: “I take a different approach to the leader of the opposition—I don’t go looking for reports that have not been made available to me, when those reports are meant to be confidentially held amongst those people who have a legitimate right to access them at this point in the process.
“I tried to make these points last week. There is a process here. The report is not a report of the Welsh Government. The report is owned by those who commissioned it—that is the board of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
“There are people who are named in that report, there are people who are likely or may face action taken against them as a result of that report. That is why the report ought not to be in circulation in the way that the leader of the opposition described.
“I am sure, because of the assurances I have had, that the board are taking the report seriously, that they will discharge the responsibilities that now lie with them now that the NHS counter-fraud organisation has concluded that there are no further criminal charges that it wishes to pursue as a result of the report.”
Mr Davies responded: “This report clearly identifies executive overreach and management decisions that were taken based on information that was withheld from the board.
“Surely, those independent members, who were forced to resign on the basis of what’s in this report, are owed an apology by the Welsh Government.
“Will you make that apology today and confirm that the Government is acting in unison with the health board that is in special measures to address these concerns in the Ernst and Young report? ”
The First Minister maintained his position, stating: “Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is not run by the Welsh Government. I don’t think it’s difficult for the leader of the opposition to grasp this.
“The legal obligations for the conduct of that board, including the legal obligations to respond to the report, which they themselves commissioned, lies with the board itself. That is just inescapably a matter of where legal accountabilities lie.
“As I explained, I am confident, from what I have been advised, that the board will take all that very seriously. Now that it’s in a position where any action lies with them, rather than with those who made an assessment of criminal liabilities, they will act on the basis of the report that they have received.
“I’m afraid members here who want to jump the gun, who want to quote reports that they have no legal standing in having seen, and who expect me to follow them down that very mistaken course of action, will not find me doing so.
“It’s for the board to take action. There are people whose careers are at stake here. Whatever you think, those people have rights that have to be respected. The board will do it in that way and that’s the right and proper way for things to be done.”
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