How the NHS Wales wastes money on bureaucrats in non-jobs yet has lethally long waiting lists that would shame a Third World country

Guy Adams in The Mail 22nd October 2014: How the NHS Wales wastes money on bureaucrats in non-jobs yet has lethally long waiting lists that would shame a Third World country 

Today, we highlight the tragic cases of the Welsh patients stranded on waiting lists…

It’s very worrying when I find myself in agreement with the Daily Mail…. They overstate every case and headline, but there is many a truth hidden behind their headlines this week.

Somewhere in north-west Wales is an office occupied by one very well-remunerated employee of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Local Health Board.

At a time of supposed austerity, when the principality’s Labour government has reduced health spending by 1 per cent a year, resulting in total cuts of more than 8 per cent since 2010, he (or she) earns a £43,414 a year. In addition, their pension is topped up by £6,078.

However, this well-paid NHS staffer has no key medical role, but is instead the health board’s ‘carbon manager’.

Quite what this job actually entails (presumably it involves raising the profile of energy conservation) and what relevance it has to healthcare, is anyone’s guess.

But in the free-spending, politically-correct world of the Welsh NHS, there are other posts akin to ‘carbon manager’. Betsi Cadwaladr also pays £50,000 for a ‘head of communications’, along with £30,000 for a ‘leadership officer’, £30,000 for a ‘head of equality, diversity and human rights’, and another £30,000 for a ‘senior equality manager’.

They are part of the army of people recently identified by the Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) pressure group as being employed in weird and unnecessary ‘non-jobs’ by the Welsh NHS last year.

In a report, which it believes exposed the tip of an iceberg of public waste, the TPA detailed the munificent pay packages, bizarre job titles and pointless remits of 43 of the Labour-run service’s non-clinical staff, who together earn a total of £1.5 million a year.

During 2013 (the last year for which the information is available), their ranks included a ‘sustainable transport manager’ in Gwent on £30,308 per year, a ‘leadership/management coach’ in Cwm Taf on £40,511 a year, and an ‘equality and diversity lead’ in Velindre NHS Trust on another £40,511.

Nurse Beth Prout has a rare form of stomach cancer, and has been waiting since June to get life-saving surgery in England
Robin Williams, 69, had to wait three months to be referred to a consultant and another six months for an appointment for an angiogram. He accuses the Labour authorities of ‘a level of incompetence I’ve not seen before in my lifetime’

…Cardiff, where Robin was originally treated, was the subject of an investigation last year by the Royal College of Surgeons, who inspected its hospitals amid concerns that it has some of the country’s highest mortality rates.

But in Wales, effectively a one-party Labour state, its government has shown precious little appetite for reforming the bloated public sector.

Proof is the fact that Cardiff has, for example, spent £75 million on a ‘communities first’ scheme which involved (among other things) teaching residents of Ebbw Fawr to ‘design your own tattoo’ or take part in a ‘guitar-making course’.

And an IT project named Merlin, meant to cost £220 million over a decade, has already cost the government £270 million in its first seven years.

Another £36 million was spent by Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones on a back-to-work scheme called Genesis, which was described as ‘under-performing’ when it closed in 2013, after managing to help just 800 people gain jobs. That’s £45,000 for every person it took off the dole.

Back in Newport, a 78-year-old former post mistress has particular cause to complain about Welsh government waste.

June Crum has had to spend her life-savings on open-heart surgery after waiting 18 months for treatment on the Welsh NHS.

She took the decision in April after being told — despite having just been taken to hospital with heart problems — that it would be six months before she made it to the top of the waiting list.

‘My hands had turned blue and some of my fingers black. I thought I had left it too long. I was very frightened. I thought I was going to die.

‘When I found I could be waiting until October, I took my savings out of my Isa and decided to pay for it.’

The procedure cost £19,444. In the sad parallel universe of the incompetent Welsh NHS, that’s less than half the amount Labour health tsars see fit to spend on a single health trust ‘carbon manager’.

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About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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