North Wales health watchdog calls for ‘urgent action’ to ensure patients can access safe healthcare
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A health watchdog has called for “urgent action” to ensure patients in North Wales can access safe healthcare.
The comments by the North Wales Community Health Council (NWCHC) follow another damning report into the running of one of the region’s three main hospitals.
Health Inspectorate Wales raised concerns into the operation of the emergency department at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd after finding “significant issues relating to the timely provision of medical and nursing care”.
It was also announced last week that some vascular patients in North Wales would have to travel to England to receive their treatment at either the Royal Liverpool University Hospital or the Royal Stoke University Hospital.
It came as Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) said it was facing “immediate operational pressures due to consultant availability and nurse staffing” in the department.
The Welsh Government has so far resisted calls to put the health board back into special measures over recent issues.
However, the chair and chief officer of NWCHC have written to Welsh Health Minister Eluned Morgan calling for Betsi Cadwaladr to have a “more challenging and sceptical environment” imposed upon it.
It follows claims that statements made by the health board should be treated carefully.
In their letter, Jackie Allen and Geoff Ryall-Harvey said: “In preparation for our meeting on 31s1 March 2022, we wrote to your advisers about our concern that successive Health Ministers have continued to accept assurances from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board that are either not supported by evidence, that prove to be wildly optimistic or where we see a reversion to old patterns of behaviour almost immediately.
“At the meeting we were clear that it is for BCUHB to take the necessary action to put their failings right ‘on the ground’ but that we looked to the minister to hold them to account when they do not.
“We remind you that following the Royal College of Surgeons report on vascular services, we wrote to you with a strong suggestion that complex vascular patients should be treated in Liverpool while the vascular service in North Wales was reconfigured and the safety recommendations made by the RCS were implemented.
“We were concerned that progress towards the recommendations was unacceptably slow. This suggestion was rejected and in a few short weeks we had two Never Events.
“Recently, following further investigations, more serious incidents and a raft of resignations, the service in North Wales has been closed to aortic aneurism patients — complex vascular services are now to be provided in Liverpool and Stoke.
“The North Wales CHG provides a complaints and advocacy service and we often take those complaints to the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales.
“At our meeting on 31st March I told you that the CHC has had to advise the PSOW on many occasions that evidence and statements given by BCUHB cannot be taken at face value and that they must always be tested.
“We remind you of this and again offer the same advice to you, minister. We would like to see a much more challenging and sceptical environment for BCUHB when making claims that all is well.
“You will recall that you expressed yourself satisfied with the reassurances you were receiving from BCUHB in March 2022 and felt it unnecessary to take any immediate action.
“Your deputy minister expressed the same views in relation to mental health care in North Wales.
“In the light of recent events, including a second adverse HIW report on ED at Glan Clwyd, we urge you to bring forward your planned review in October.
“We believe it would be entirely inappropriate to let matters continue in the current fashion for a further two months. Urgent action is now required to secure the safe healthcare that people in North Wales expect and deserve.”
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