Health minister Lesley Griffiths said that all capital spending projects in Wales would be delayed until health boards submit their plans in the new year during a scrutiny session of the National Assembly’s Health Committee.
Griffiths wants to scrutinise the projects to assess their importance.
Opposition parties say the decision will put jobs at risk and delay improvements to hospitals.
Plaid Cymru health spokeswoman Elin Jones described the decision as “mind-boggling”.
She said: “This amazing admission by the Health Minister suggests mind-boggling ignorance of the economic crisis that we’re in. Not only has this Labour Welsh Government failed to take any action to help employers and save jobs during this latest crisis – we now learn that Labour is making life worse for the construction sector by unnecessarily delaying projects that could be starting now.
“Although there’s a £17m reduction in next year’s capital budget, this in no way merits putting all projects on hold in this way.”
Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said: “I have already tabled a formal question demanding the Minister to provide detail on which projects will now be shelved – I am calling on her to come clean today, so that people across Wales will know what the impact will be on their services.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said work on all contracts which has been committed and approved would continue as planned but future decisions would have to made based on a tighter budget and “finite resources.”
He said: “It would be totally irresponsible for us to approve all bids from health boards for capital investment in major projects before we understand their relevance with their final plans for service delivery. Work on all contractually committed and approved projects will however continue as planned.
“As a result of the significant cut to our capital budget by the UK Government, we must ensure that all future capital investment is focused on maximising improvement in patient care, so that we can deliver within our finite resources.”