Byline: Madeleine Brindley Health Editor
ALMOST pounds 10mwas taken out of the NHS budget last year to pay the directors of Wales' 22 local health boards, the Western Mail can reveal today.
This is the same as the cost of the much-needed extension to the world-renownedWelsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery, in Swansea.
The figures givean indicationof the scale of possible savings from plans to reorganise the nation's local health boards.
Chief executive salaries alone amounted to almost pounds 2m - more than the price of a revolutionary open MRI scanner for the second phase of the Children's Hospital for Wales.
If proposals tocut the number of LHBs in Wales to just eight are approved, it could save the NHS several million pounds, with the various board of directors' pay totalling pounds 9.57minthe past year. It is hoped any savings could be ploughed into improving patient services in the community and in hospitals.
One of the major criticisms of LHBs, since their introduction four years ago, has been the cost of employing 22 sets of executive board members.
Health Minister Edwina Hart announced the start of a consultation into the plans for the radical restructuring of LHBs last week.
But despite the potentially huge financial savings from shrinking this layer of bureaucracy, Mrs Hart said cost was not the driving factor behind the proposals for change.
"My ultimate aim is to improve patient care and the patient experience," she said.
"This is not driven by issues of cost. These proposed changes will be contained within the current finances.
"The experience and expertise of the people whowork within the NHS are its most important asset."
If the proposals are accepted it would see eight LHBs covering the same areas as the current NHS trusts-Powys LHB, whichhas the highest paid chief executive and board costs, is expected to remain in its current guise. …