Managers pocket hip operation cash

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The Independent Online
A Welsh health authority that cancelled 200 hip and knee operations because of cash shortages spent tens of thousands of pounds looking after management, it was revealed yesterday.

Rhodri Morgan, Labour MP for Cardiff West, said Gwent Health Authority had paid out nearly pounds 60,000 in fees, wages and other costs that could have been used to alleviate patients' suffering. The trust disclosed two days ago that 200 patients of non-fundholding GPs would have to wait until April 1997 for a new date for their operations at Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport, following cancellations blamed on "too little money in the system".

A shortfall of pounds 200,000 in the orthopaedics budget was caused by a shift of resources to emergency admissions, said Glan Hafren Trust, which operates the hospital.

But Mr Morgan said the authority had failed to recover a pounds 3,000 unpaid car-leasing debt owed by the former chief executive, Jeremy Hallett. It had also paid out pounds 6,900 in lieu of notice to Ms Julie Sharma, appointed as a senior manager by Mr Hallett earlier this year. She had also been suspended on full pay for 11 weeks at a cost of pounds 14,000, and the legal bill for negotiations about her case amounted to pounds 34,000.

"Money they haven't got for orthopaedics has been wasted on legal fees and services not received. It is no wonder they haven't got the cash for hip operations. However, under the Government's two-tier system of health care, the patients of fund-holding GPs will get their operations."

Gwent Health Authority commented: "We have to react to the resources we have. Our first priority is emergency admissions, clearly."

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