Crisis-hit North Wales health board may face ‘no other option than to be split up’
A crisis-hit health board may face “no other option than to be split up” a north Wales MS has claimed.
The Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has been subject to Welsh Government intervention since 2015.
The board formed in 2009 following an amalgamation of the former North East Wales, Conwy and Denbighshire and North West Wales NHS Trusts.
Now Plaid Cymru’s health spokesman has used the five year milestone of special measures to call for the possible breaking up of Wales’ largest health organisation, which currently encompases all six north Wales counties.
Rhun ap Iorwerth, the member for Ynys Mon, described the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board as having a “history of serious short comings”.
With the board having come under recent fire for discharching almost 1,700 mental health patients during the Coronavirus crisis, issues with a seemingly outdated data system has also led to an under-reporting of Covid deaths by the health board.
As a result, Mr ap Iorwerth said “there may already be no option” but to split the health board and “start afresh.”
“With Betsi Cadwaladr Heath Board now having been in special measures for five years, there are some inescapable and fundamental questions about whether things can be turned around,” he said.
“From serious mental health failings, to wasteful expenditure on external business consultants, under direct Welsh Government control, Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board has gone from one public problem to another.
“Wherever we are, this pandemic has made us all think more about the kind of health service we need, how it must be properly resourced and its workforce supported. But here in the north of Wales, it’s also focused minds on whether Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board is fit for purpose.
“I have no desire to pursue reorganisation for its own sake but I’ve certainly concluded, and more and more people in and around the NHS tell me they agree with me, that there may already be no option now but to splitting up this health board, and start afresh.
“It’s a step which, as things stand, I would be willing to take if I were to become Health Minister after the election. “
The Welsh Conservative leader, meanwhile, was critical of the Welsh Government for allowing the board to “languish” for such a time.
Paul Davies MS said: “The Welsh Labour Government has failed to get to grips with the issues in North Wales and last year the Health Minister said he would not set a timetable to get the health board out of special measures.
“Sadly, another year passes, and the impact of Covid-19 will be significant in future changes needed.
“But the Welsh Conservatives will not let this continue. On the first day as your First Minister I will order a swift but thorough review into Betsi Cadwaladr UHB.
“Within a month I will then publish a clear and comprehensive roadmap, with a timetable, of what needs to be achieved and by when, to get Betsi out of special measures.”
The Welsh Government said: “A wide range of good quality health services are provided every day across north Wales and steady progress has been made while the health board has been in special measures, especially in maternity services and out-of-hours care.
“Before the pandemic, it was our assessment that further progress was needed in leadership and governance, performance, financial management and mental health services.
“As we work with the health board to re-start normal activity alongside essential services, we will be working with the interim chief executive and the chair to realise the health board’s longer-term transformation.
“We want the board to achieve sustainable and high-quality health and care services, which will enable the health board to step-down from special measures.”
By Gareth Williams – Local Democracy Reporter
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