Paul Davies AM, today (November 5, 2019) questioned the First Minister on the value of paying an NHS Wales manager – who works for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board from his home in Spain – earning almost £2,000 a day.
During First Minister’s Questions, Mr Davies, the Welsh Conservative Assembly Leader, asked Mark Drakeford: “Is it acceptable that management consultant Philip Burns will receive more than £360,000 for his nine-month contract with NHS Wales?”
Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board has been in special measures since June 2015, following a damning mental health services’ report alleging institutional abuse.
Mr Davies pressed further, saying, : “[Mr Burns’ fee of] £360,000 could be used to recruit actual doctors and nurses given that North Wales has the second worst ratio of patients per senior doctor in the UK, spent tackling the high number of patients waiting more than 12 hours in A & E, or used to help prepare the health board for the winter months.”
He then asked Mr Drakeford to accept that his Government had failed patients across North Wales, adding: “Can you tell us what you’re doing to rectify this embarrassing situation?”
Mr Davies described the First Minister’s response as “… simply not good enough”.
He continued: “Under your stewardship, Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board is simply not fit for purpose anymore, and the people of North Wales deserve better. It’s unacceptable that whilst you’re allowing managers to sun themselves up in Spain, people are desperately waiting for treatments and services.”
Earlier this year the Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee reported that Welsh Government support has been “insufficient”, and that actions 'had little practical impact' on changing the health board's performance.
Mr Davies then challenged the First Minister and his Government to “step up and show some real leadership on this issue”, before asking him to state what targets his Government has set the health board to take it out of special measures.