Frustration has been voiced after a bid to publicly debate the performance of North Wales’ crisis-hit health board was placed on hold.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has been in special measures since June 2015 and has some of the worst performing A&E units in the country.
A group of independent councillors in Flintshire had been hoping to highlight delays faced by patients at Wrexham Maelor Hospital at a full council meeting held in Mold yesterday .
It came after Flintshire Independents deputy leader Carol Ellis described how her husband was forced to wait on a trolley for more than six hours in the hospital’s emergency department after being taken seriously ill in September.
However, they were told their motion calling on the Welsh Government to take urgent action could not be discussed because of rules which restrict the activities of local authorities during the build up to the general election.
Group leader Bernie Attridge said he believed the so-called purdah guidance should be reviewed.
Speaking at County Hall in Mold, he said: “Our group has had a notice of motion on hold for the last couple of months.
“It hasn’t been able to come, and I feel it’s a lot more important than some of the stuff we’ve had on the agenda.
“The rules don’t apply to Welsh Government – they’ve had three or four debates on Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board and that’s what our notice of motion was about, but we’re not allowed because of purdah.
“It just doesn’t seem right that everyone else in politics can discuss issues, but we can’t here in Flintshire.”
Members of the independent group said they had been approached by several people who encountered long waits at the Maelor since Cllr Ellis shared her story, including some who faced delays of more than 12 hours.
It led to a motion being put forward to all councillors in Flintshire asking them to support calls for the government to step in amid growing criticism of the region’s health board.
But the council’s chief executive said it had given the correct advice to postpone it being heard with the NHS heavily under the spotlight during the election campaign.
Colin Everett said: “We’ve given you very good advice that I think others should follow.
“The legal restrictions that are specific to local government are enshrined in local government legislation.
“Welsh Government is a sitting government with a different set of restrictions, and it is allowed to carry on its normal business.
“There’s only been one report and one notice of motion that we haven’t included, because they would definitely touch on areas that are major areas of manifestos.
“The NHS isn’t fully devolved to Wales; we know there are specialist services in England we also access so we have to be careful.”
Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).