A HEALTH board has said claims that it could cut funding to a community-based cardiac service are “entirely wrong”.

The Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) community heart failure service provides post-diagnostic support for patients at community hospitals, GP surgeries and community health centres across North Wales following a recent discharge from hospital.

Since it launched in 2015 it has prevented more than a quarter of users from being admitted to general hospital by helping to manage their symptoms and treatment.

BCUHB, which has been in special measures since 2015 and had an in-year deficit of £41.3million in 2018-19, has listed the service as a ‘spend to save’ project. It costs about £430,000 a year with estimated savings of £1.5million.

However Mabon ap Gwynfor, county councillor for Llandrillo and Cynwyd, said he had been alerted by “concerned GPs” that the service “was due to be disbanded until a last-minute temporary reprieve”.

“The health board has spent the last year unable to decide on whether to continue the service funding, despite the evidence presented of lives improved and hospital admissions saved,” he said.

A letter by Graham Thomas, GP at the Corwen Family Practice, who is the GP lead for All Wales Cardiac Network and Chair of the All Wales Community Cardiology Steering Group, said there has been "a slow but steady attrition in the clinical service” due to the lack of funding which was an “entirely predictable result”.

“There are good reasons to believe that the investment should have been steadily increased to provide further benefits to patients and to the BCUHB hospital services,” he said.

Dr Thomas said that with £600,000 funding per annum the service could make £2.5m savings.

“This saving is of course in addition to the work and costs diverted from GPs and their staff in Primary Care, General Cardiology Out Patients and Hospital Emergency Departments,” he said.

Cllr ap Gwynfor said the situation “has exposed serious deficiencies in the health board management’s ability to make simple decisions”.

“The future of the service remains uncertain and is likely to deteriorate further without guarantees of long-term funding,” Cllr ap Gwynfor said.

A BCUHB spokesperson said the health board has been carrying out a “robust evaluation” of the service “to ensure the best use of public funds”.

“It’s entirely wrong to suggest we are looking to cut funding to this service,” the spokesperson said. “We asked the service to complete a business case which takes into account an evaluation of the service and its performance, as well as detail on how it can be replicated in other areas of North Wales.

"As with all requests the health board receives to commit funding, we need to go through a robust evaluation of the benefits of non-recurring projects to ensure the best use of public funds.

“This request for a business case is not about stopping the service, but about ensuring we have the best approach to providing this service to people across North Wales."

The spokesperson added: “More work is needed to ensure this business case takes into account the future development and provision of the service.

“We fully recognise the value of the heart failure service, and are actively working with the service so that, together, we can continue to ensure this service remains available to people in North Wales.”