Posted: Tue 3rd Oct 2023

Hospital waiting times “not good enough” admits North Wales’ health board chief

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Oct 3rd, 2023

The interim chief executive of North Wales’ health board has admitted hospital waiting times are not good enough but says things are improving.

Interim chief executive Carol Shillabeer also said plans for the regeneration of Rhyl’s hospital might need to be scaled down or completed in stages.

Ms Shillabeer spoke to the Local Democracy Reporting Service at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s AGM last week. When asked if she was happy with current waiting times, she said she was not.

But Ms Shillabeer claimed there had been improvements, blaming COVID for some of the issues.

“I don’t think we can be happy at all with waiting times, ” she said.

“We know – not just because of COVID – that COVID played a massive part on (affecting) planned care and waiting times were too long for surgery.

“The good news is we’ve seen about a 50% reduction over the last 12 months for people who are waiting over 52 weeks, and we’ve seen a 40% reduction in people waiting over 36 weeks. So there is progress being made, good progress, but the list size is still very big, and new people are being added to the list.”

She added, “The teams are working differently with the full support of the board to try and see more patients in a different way.”

[Carol Shillabeer]

The LDR service also asked the interim chief executive again about Rhyl’s Royal Alexander Hospital.

Denbighshire County Council agreed a business case for the regeneration of the hospital in March 2021, but the project stalled and is awaiting Welsh Government approval for the allocation of the tens of millions of pounds of funds needed.

But now inflation is believed to have increased the project’s cost – with some estimates as high as £60m. Last week Ms Shillabeer said the project would have to be reassessed.

But speaking at the AGM at Llandudno’s Trinity Community Centre, Ms Shillabeer indicated the hospital might need to be regenerated in stages.

“So the Alex is a very special place for people in the community,” she said.

“We recognise that. It’s quite a big place, and it is quite old. I know there’s been business cases put forward to the (Welsh) Government. But the biggest challenge is the availability of the capital funding we need to make the changes.

“So one of the things that we are needing to do now is to try and regroup if you like and say, OK, so this was a very large scheme in which inflation of the cost of supplies has really pushed the price up. How might we do some of this differently? Do we do it in phases. Do we change the scope, so limit it and then grow it over time?

“It’s been a long time with people not knowing very much about what is going to be happening, and it’s time for us to be able to reassess that and let people know where we are at with it.”

She added: “But we have to think about the prioritisation with the capital pot being so small, so these are quite tough decisions.”By

By Richard Evans – Local Democracy Reporter

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