PRIME Minister Rishi Sunak admitted he was deeply worried about Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) in light of a scathing report over financial dealings.

Mr Sunak made the comment after Clwyd West MP, David Jones, raised the issue of the Ernst and Young report with the Prime Minister at PMQs yesterday (May 24). 

Mr Jones said: "Last year the independent members of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in North Wales became so concerned about the board’s finances that they arranged for Ernst and Young to produce a forensic accountancy report, which revealed serious misconduct on the part of several senior board executives, including a conspiracy to falsify accounts.

"Astonishingly, the response of the Labour Welsh Minister to the scandal was to demand the resignation of those independent board members, while almost all the senior executives in question have been allowed to remain in post, many of them drawing six-figure salaries.

"Does the Prime Minister agree that this disgraceful state of affairs should be investigated by the police, and does he further agree that it demonstrates why Labour is unfit to run important public services in any part of our country?"

Mr Sunak replied: "As my right honourable friend knows, I am deeply worried about the Betsi Cadwaladr hospital trust in Labour-run North Wales. It has been in special measures for six of the last eight years and, as he remarked, the official audit said that there was worrying dysfunctionality.

"I hope that this issue is investigated properly, and I believe that my right honourable friend is in contact with the Secretary of State for Wales to take it further."

A leaked report, by accountancy firm Ernst Young (EY), found BCUHB wrongly and deliberately accounted for millions of pounds.

The report revealed the health board - which was placed back into special measures on February 27 of this year - filed false accounts and failed to gain Welsh Government approval for various multi-million-pound contracts.

It is understood that BCUHB was on course to underspend around £10m of its budget for the 2020/21 financial year. Rather than saving taxpayers’ money, the health board instead set about spending substantial amounts quickly.

EY’s forensic accountants found the BCUHB recorded transactions in its 2021-22 accounts that related to work which contractors had not yet done, or medical equipment which did not arrive until months afterwards.

A criminal fraud investigation into the matter was dropped earlier this year, though an internal review of what happened is continuing.

Dr James Davies, MP for Vale of Clwyd, said: “This report is damning. Its description of collusion between multiple individuals both within and outside of the health board to present dishonest accounts, falsify documents and manipulate and withhold information suggests an indifference to rules and standards and a lack of accountability. 

“It provides yet further evidence of the systemic and cultural malaise that pervades BCUHB – a situation which has been allowed to develop during 25 years of Labour-run devolved government. It is a disgrace that the people of North Wales continue to be so incredibly let down by local NHS services.”


On Monday night, Detective Chief Superintendent Gareth Evans of North Wales Police 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."

BCUHB has nearly 19,000 employees. There have been bitter complaints that hard-working nurses and doctors are being let down by those in charge. 

Darren Millar, MS for Clwyd West, asked in the Senedd on May 23 for the minister for health and social services to make a statement in relation to the contents of the EY report.

He said: "There are many questions which my constituents have been in touch with. There is a lot of anger out there at the way in which this report appears to have been suppressed and people want to what action the Welsh Government is now taking in response to that report and we need some assurances that similar issues aren't occurring in other health boards or parts of the public sector in Wales as well."

He added: "There is no statement this week on the agenda" and that he hoped one could be scheduled "as soon as possible."

A spokesman for the health board commented on Monday: "The management of the issues raised in the Ernst and Young report is progressing in line with existing procedures and policies. It is inappropriate to comment on the status of any employees at this stage."