Posted: Wed 29th Jan 2020

More than half of all incidents resulting in death reported by health boards in Wales came from Betsi Cadwaladr

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jan 29th, 2020

More than half of fatal incidents in the Welsh NHS over the last 12 months have happened in North Wales’ Betsi Cadwaladr health board despite only covering 20% of Wales’ population.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has defended the figures – released on Tuesday – they show that 53% of all incidents resulting in death reported by health boards in Wales came from Betsi Cadwaladr health board.

The First Minister was being challenged by Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price during First Ministers Question (FMQ’s) in the Welsh Parliament yesterday..

Mr Price said that there had been “an alarming rate” of patient safety incidents in the Betsi Cadwaladr health board and that between December 2018 and November 2019 there were 40 incidents resulting in death registered within Betsi.

Between November 2017 and November 2019 there were 520 incidents within Betsi that resulted in death or serious harm – higher than all the other health boards combined.

Adam Price said this was “disproportionately high” given that the health board covers roughly around 20% of the population of Wales and asked the First Minister if this was a case of “an underlying problem within Betsi” or “severe under reporting elsewhere in Wales”.

The First Minister replied that the figures were a sign that people “were not afraid to speak up”.

Adam Price said the First Minister’s response suggested that under reporting of serious incidents could be a “general problem in other health boards in Wales” apart from Betsi.

Speaking in the Senedd chamber today during FMQs, Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price said,

“Betsi Cadwaladr, now in its fifth year of special measures has an alarming rate of patient safety incidents. Between November 2017 and November 2019 there were 520 incidents within Betsi that resulted in death or serious harm – that total is higher than all the other health boards in Wales combined.

There is either an underlying problem within Betsi or there is severe under reporting elsewhere in Wales. Which is it?”

Defending the figures, the First Minister said that “reporting incidents and learning from them” has become part of the culture of a health board that they “want to see everywhere in Wales” saying,

“We say we want a learning culture and a culture where people are not afraid to speak up and have things recorded and when that happens we have questions that say, ‘Oh, everything must be awful. Look at the incidents reported. We can’t have it both ways.’.”

Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price continued,

“Between December 2018 and December 2019 there were 41 incidents resulting in death registered within Betsi. That’s 53% of all such deaths reported by Welsh health boards – this is disproportionately high when you consider that the health board covers about 20% of the population of in Wales.

“If I’ve understood the First Minister correctly […] he seems to be of the view that there is under reporting of serious incidents in the rest of Wales? And presumably there are deaths as a result of under-reported incidents through health boards in the rest of Wales?

“Is the First Minister saying now that the key failing, the lack of reporting of serious incidents that was at the heart of the problem at Cwm Taf is actually a general problem in other health boards in Wales apart from Betsi?”

 The First Minister said he “said no such thing”.

Executive director for nursing and midwifery Gill Harris told North Wales Live: “A culture of incident reporting is crucial in helping us to learn lessons to prevent further harm.

“We want to encourage transparency in the care we provide and support staff in learning where care can be improved.

We strongly encourage staff to report both incidents and near misses to maximise this learning.  

The figures being reported do not necessary reflect the number of incidents that occurred. Instead, they show the number of reported incidents – which may have occurred sometime prior to this period – that have been investigated, closed and uploaded to the National Reporting and Learning System.”

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