The Welsh taxpayer stands to lose £10m on an “investment” made by the Labour Government as a cancer treatment healthcare group seeks to put itself into liquidation.
It has led to questions from the Welsh Conservatives as to why ministers did not step in to safeguard the investment and save the company given the role it has in providing cancer treatment after the backlog build up during the pandemic.
Rutherford Health (formerly known as Proton Partners International) had its first private centre, and the first in the UK to use proton beam technology to treat cancer, opened in Newport in South Wales in 2016. Rutherford has a workforce of around 280, with around 45 at its Newport centre.
The Welsh Government, as part of a £100m fundraising round, invested £10m in the business seven years ago, overseen by its wholly owned Development Bank of Wales, but now stands to lose out.
Rutherford said Covid had significantly reduced patient numbers, so to boost patient flow it had offered the NHS a not-for-profit UK-wide contract, in addition to existing local ones. However, this was not taken up by Labour-run NHS Wales.
Commenting, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Finance Minister Peter Fox MS said:
“We know that not all investments pay off, but it is galling to see Labour ministers argue for £100m to be wasted on 36 more politicians in Cardiff Bay when the cost-of-living is on the up and they are losing public money.
“The public now need answers as to why the Labour Government did not step in to save the company and safeguard the investment given the vital role the company could have played in addressing the cancer backlogs that have built up during the pandemic.
“The Senedd also needs to know why NHS Wales rejected the offer and whether that precipitated the company’s fall. If there are good reasons for it, that is fine – but transparency over public money is essential.
“Sadly, we too often see cases of the Labour Government being cavalier with our cash, so the rationale behind this loss must stand up to scrutiny or ministers will find themselves being held to account for recklessly risking money that could have been spent on hundreds of new nurses”.