Posted: Mon 8th Jun 2015

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board Put Into Special Measures for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Monday, Jun 8th, 2015

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has today been placed to special measures by the Welsh Government.

The decision to place the health board in special measures follows the news that Welsh Government Officials had met this morning to discuss the fate of Betsi Cadwaladr.

Health minister Mark Drakeford says the decision ‘Reflects serious and outstanding concerns about leadership, governance and progress’, with more detail of what this announcement will mean on a practical basis expected in a full statement tomorrow.

Mr Drakeford said: “As a result of the meeting that took place earlier today between the Welsh Government and regulators, I can confirm that Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is being placed in special measures.

“This significant decision is made in line with the escalation framework. It reflects serious and outstanding concerns about the leadership, governance and progress in the Health Board over some time. A thorough and balanced assessment has taken place on areas of concern that will form the basis of actions to be taken as a result of special measures.

“Whilst the special measures apply to the Health Board, I want to reassure patients and communities served by the Health Board and staff working for it that day-to-day services and activities will continue as normal.”

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is the largest health organisation in Wales, providing services across North Wales – including the Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

The health board has come under fire by many over the past few moves, with the proposed move of maternity services, closure of community hospitals and the recent Tawel Fan Mental Health Scandal increasing the pressure and scrutiny on the authority.

Today’s decision to put the health board into special measures has been described as ‘overdue’ by some, who feel that Betsi Cadwaladr has lost the confidence of the public.

Speaking about the decision, Marc Jones, of North Wales Health Alliance, said: “The decision to put BCUHB into special measures is too little and too late. This health board has gone from crisis to crisis over the past few years and has lost all credibility with the general public as well as many staff.

“The failure of the Government to intervene sooner was a missed opportunity to avoid some of the most recent failings, such as the lack of consultation over moving maternity services.

“The NWHA doesn’t believe that we simply need a change of personnel at the top of the board, we need a change of plan. Centralising services, especially community care, doesn’t work and we’re about to embark on yet more changes.

“Frontline staff are overstretched and management seem out of touch with their experiences. Schools and councils in crisis have seen interventions that have turned around failing institutions – we hope special measures for this health board will achieve the same.”

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru AM for North Wales, said: “There has been a failure of political leadership regarding Betsi Cadwaladr for some years now. The Labour Government has washed its hands of the problem for too long and putting the health board into special measures is long overdue.

“The catalogue of problems – including maternity services being moved without consultation, C-Difficile outbreaks, community hospitals closed against clinical advice – stems from a failure to listen to clinical experts and the general public.

“Apologies mean nothing without a change of direction and we’re not seeing that with this health board. There are more significant changes in healthcare delivery on the way and the lack of confidence people have in the board mean that this change is destabilising.

“Nurses and doctors who get things wrong face being struck off their professional registers and would be unable to practice. We’ve seen managers getting things badly wrong who have no similar sanction and continue to work in the field.”

Assembly Member for Wrexham Lesley Griffiths, the former Health Minster until 2012, has responded to the announcement saying: “Failings at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd’s Tawel Fan ward were shocking and it is incomprehensible patients have been treated in this manner. Those responsible in the health board must be held to account and face disciplinary action.”

“After meeting with Health Minister Mark Drakeford AM last week, I am pleased the Welsh Government has acted accordingly and effectively. The serious nature of this incident has resulted in major, decisive action taking place and this now provides the opportunity to resolve outstanding issues.”

“However, this announcement should not take anything away from the excellent frontline NHS staff who work tirelessly under pressurised circumstances to deliver the best possible care for people across Wales. Constituents I speak to always praise the dedicated staff and I recently visited Wrexham Maelor Hospital to meet with workers and witness first-hand the excellent care that takes place.”

Aled Roberts AM for North Wales said: “I am hugely disappointed that the situation here in North Wales has deteriorated to the extent that this drastic decision has needed to be taken. I do, however, believe it is the right decision.

“This is a health board in desperate need of help. That is why the Welsh Lib Dems have been arguing that it’s time it was put into Special Measures.

“We need a health board that has the faith of the people of North Wales. That simply is not the case at the moment. Changes are desperately needed and they are needed urgently.

“It was clear that neither enhanced monitoring or targeted intervention was making the difference. That is why this decision is necessary.

“We are now in uncharted waters. The Health Minister must immediately set out in detail what this decision will actually mean in practice and what it will mean for patients.”

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