New Chairman uncertain if Betsi Cadwaladr’s ‘brand’ can be repaired after returning to special measures
Dyfed Edwards, the newly appointed chairman of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, North Wales’ largest health board, has expressed uncertainty about the repairability of the board’s brand.
The health board – which provides healthcare services to 700,000 people in north Wales – was put back into special measures by the Welsh government last month due to “serious concerns” over its performance, leadership, and culture.
The decision to return BCUHB back to special measures follows a damning report from the Auditor General for Wales, which highlighted “deep-rooted issues” with working relationships at the most senior levels within the health board.
Betsi Cadwaladr has faced criticism over its health services, particularly in vascular and emergency medicine.
The Auditor General report led to increasing pressure on ministers to dismiss executives due to the criticism of the organisation’s management.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan appointed former Gwynedd council leader Dyfed Edwards as the new chair after forcing the resignations of all independent board members.
Independent board members accused the Welsh government of failing to understand the situation and questioning why they were targeted when they had been challenging the executives.
Ms Morgan told the Senedd she lacked the powers even as Health Minister to make top managers step down.
Mr Edwards believes executives within the health board should evaluate their positions within the organisation and consider whether it might be best for them to explore “other options”.
While Mr Edwards reassured the public that the board is safe, he acknowledged the need for improvement in numerous areas, with safety being the top priority.
In an interview with BBC Wales, Mr Edwards described his new role as an opportunity, despite the challenges.
When asked if the board’s brand was irreparable, he said it was an “interesting question” and admitted that he was unsure of the answer.
He emphasised the need for reorganisation from a position of strength, whether through a name change or restructuring.
Despite the ongoing issues, Mr Edwards assured the public that the health service is safe to use and cited his personal experiences with the quality of the service provided.
He said: “I think of it as strangely an opportunity because we are in a challenging position. But I think we can create success. It’s going to take time, but I have seen things around me that are encouraging.”
Mr Edwards, asked if the board’s brand was irreparable, said it was an “interesting question“.
“Sometimes, something sticks with a brand and then it does not matter what you do. It’s broken and you need to reset.”
“I’m not sure about the answer to that at the moment. I think the important thing when you reorganise, you do it from a position of strength, whatever it is, whether you change your name, or change your formation. So let’s get to a good place.”
He insisted that the next board meeting will see the same personnel that are at the board currently.
But he added: “Whether we are executive members or independent members, we have to take stock and ask ourselves: are we able to contribute to the success of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board going forward?”
“Then I think it’s right that people say, ‘yes, we’re going on a journey, I want to be part of that, or perhaps it’s best I consider other options at the moment’.”
He said the vacant post of chief executive will be filled quickly, and that the board has to improve “in a number of areas”.
On top of the list at all times will be safety – that’s something we’re very keen to look at, to make sure the services we provide are safe.”
“The second thing is the bigger question of who is coming through the front door and how are people getting out through.”
“We need to improve and there’s an awareness of that.”
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