First minister Carwyn Jones has cleared his health minister Edwina Hart of misleading the Welsh Assembly, saying he was “surprised and disappointed” by the claims against her.
He was asked to investigate after opposition ministers accused Ms Hart of withholding a report into the health service.
Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams asked the first minister to investigate whether Ms Hart had breached the ministerial code by not releasing the document when asked.
In his reply, Mr Jones said: “I am both surprised and disappointed by your claims.
“I can assure you that I am completely satisfied that the minister has not misled the assembly over this matter, nor did she seek to do so.”
He said Ms Hart made clear that McKinsey was hired by the chief executive of the NHS and the local health boards to help draw up a five-year plan.
He said McKinsey collected the views of health boards, trusts, clinical leaders and trade unions on the challenges facing the NHS. A slide presentation was used to help the process.
“I understand that the document you refer to is simply a compilation of slides used,” he said.
The assembly government has denied the existence of a so-called McKinsey report and called the work produced by the company a “discussion document”.
Under the heading “shortcomings we have heard”, the slides say strategic objectives are “too numerous and not prioritised, so none or the wrong ones are implemented”.
They add that “implementation lacks accountability” and that “initiatives are financially unaffordable”.
In his letter, the first minister added that the slides were prepared a month after last year’s reorganisation of the NHS and contained criticisms of the old system.
“You may wish to call a compilation of slides, which were also produced in hard copy, a report, but it is not.
“The minister was not involved in this process and nor was she given a copy of the slides.”
He said the company had confirmed there was no “McKinsey report”.