Posted: Thu 18th Nov 2021

Call made for inquiry into management of Betsi Cadwaladr health board

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Nov 18th, 2021


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A call has been made for an inquiry to be held into the management of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

Last week, it was revealed that doctors working at emergency departments in north Wales had written to health board officials to warn them that patients are dying in ambulances and waiting rooms due to overcrowding.

The issue was raised in the Senedd on Tuesday (November 16) by Aberconwy MS Janet Finch-Saunders, who highlighted the high level of nursing vacancies in the area.

The Conservative MS compared it to the 66 executive directors, pan-regional directors, regional heads and leads employed by the health board.

Ms Finch-Saunders urged First Minister Mark Drakeford to establish an inquiry into the running of the health board and to examine whether it should have been removed from special measures last year.

During a plenary session in the Senedd, she said: “In spite of this top-heavy management structure, you will be aware of letters received last week by doctors working at emergency departments at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Glan Clwyd and Maelor, and they warned you and others that our medical and nursing leadership has failed to address patterns of behaviour that cripple efficiency and that have not evolved for decades.

“These alarming letters underline that departments have become routinely crowded to the point where delivering even the most fundamental aspects of emergency medicine, such as rapid ambulance offload, triage, early assessment and investigations, and time-critical interventions in sepsis, stroke, cardiac care, major trauma and resuscitation are well compromised.

“And that’s despite a current vacancy rate of 670 vacancies for front-line nurses.

“Given this chaos that exists within this board, will you liaise with your Minister for Health and Social Services to establish an inquiry into the management to determine whether taking them out of special measures, just before an election, was in fact the right decision?”

Then Health Minister Vaughan Gething announced the decision to downgrade the escalation status of Betsi Cadwaladr to targeted intervention in November 2020.

He said the decision had been taken due to the amount of progress made by the board in recent years, as well as the difficulty special measures status was causing in terms of recruitment.

The move was criticised in some quarters with concerns remaining over mental health services.

In response to Ms Finch-Saunders’ comments, Mr Drakeford said the issues raised by doctors were being taken seriously.

He said: “I have seen the reply that the board made to those letters in July of this year.

“They are genuinely very important points, and the board is taking them with the seriousness that they deserve.

“They have 800 more nurses in place in Betsi Cadwaladr than they did at the start of the last Senedd term, so that’s 800 more people able to help the board in providing the services that people in the member’s constituency and across north Wales rely on and deserve.

“The health service, in every part of Wales and in every part of the United Kingdom, is under the most enormous pressure.

“It may not be good enough for the member, but she has no magic wand, and she has no easy answers to these problems and neither does anybody else.

“She can be assured and, more importantly, residents of north Wales can be assured that the whole effort of the board and its senior management is directed to doing everything they can to deal with the daily pressures that the health service is experiencing.”

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