Betsi spending £2m a month on temporary staff – including Marbella Man

“Disgrace” as troubled health board remains in special measures

The accounts of troubled north Wales health board Betsi Cadwaladr should be a cause of “real concern” for Welsh Government, Plaid Cymru North Wales MS Llyr Gruffydd has said.

Annual reports and accounts published today (see attachment p. 23) show staff absences at Betsi Cadwaladr for 2019/20 had risen substantially compared with 2018/19.                                                                                                                                              

The board also spent £26.8m on agency staff – £2 million a month.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has been in special measures – and under the direct control of Welsh Government, for five years.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales MS said that the fact that the annual budget for temporary staff hadn’t reduced significantly over the past few years should be a source of “real concern” for the Welsh government and that since being in special measures had “dozens of management consultants” – including the infamous ‘Marbella Man’ Phillip Burns who was employed as an interim Recovery Director for nine months at a cost of £353,450 – plus expenses of £16,888. 

Mr Gruffydd said it was a “disgrace” that the Welsh Government didn’t seem to have a plan to recruit, retain and train enough nurses, midwives, doctors and other key workers in the NHS locally.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales MS, said,

“Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board is spending more than £2 million a month on agency staff, a large number of whom are senior management executives as well as nurses filling gaps on the wards. Staff sickness and absence is increasing because frontline staff are overstretched in the most demanding times the NHS has faced in recent years.

“The £26.8m annual cost of temporary staff hasn’t reduced significantly over the past few years and this should be a source of real concern for the Welsh Government, which has had direct control of the health board for the past five years. 

“This period of special measures has recently seen the employment of dozens of management consultants, including the infamous ‘Marbella Man’ Phillip Burns who was employed as an interim Recovery Director for nine months. The cost of the Recovery Director’s contract for that nine months to 31 March 2020 was £353,450 plus expenses of £16,888 – £40,000 a month.

“We’ve yet to see what savings or improvements he and the other management consultants have made to the health board but my focus is on ensuring we have enough frontline staff to provide the care that’s needed here in north Wales. I’m unconvinced that, since special measures were imposed more than five years ago, the Welsh Government has a plan to recruit, retain and train enough nurses, midwives, doctors and other key workers in the NHS locally and that’s frankly a disgrace.”

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