Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) is to remain in Special Measures despite progress and a series of improvements across several areas.
BCUHB is the largest health organisation in Wales, providing services across North Wales – including the Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
However in June 2015 the health board was put into Special Measures by the Welsh Government following increasing pressure and scrutiny in the wake of the Tawel Fan mental health scandal and the proposed relocation of some maternity and cancer services.
A written statement published by Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething this afternoon outlines the outcomes of a recent meeting between the Welsh Government meets with the Wales Audit Office and Healthcare Inspectorate Wales.
Under the ‘Joint Escalation and Intervention Arrangements’ the organisations meet twice a year to discuss the “overall position of each health board and NHS trust in respect of quality, service performance and financial management”.
The latest meeting took place in January 2019 and the tripartite group considered that progress had been demonstrated since the last meeting in July 2018 in those organisations in targeted intervention:
Within the statement it is noted that the Out of Hours performance at BCUHB “is now at a level that is comparable to other organisations” and as a result is no longer a special measures concern.
Mr Gething continues onto that say that progress has been made in several areas of the health board, including improvements to mental health – although it is acknowledged that there is further work to do.
The statement adds: “The tripartite group recognised the way in which the organisation had responded to the Ockenden and the Health and Social Care Advisory Service (HASCAS) reports.
“Quality and safety governance has been strengthened and improvements are becoming evident. The new chair is strengthening governance and board effectiveness.”
However the health board is to remain in special measures, with Mr Gething explaining: “Despite improvements in some
areas compared to last year, BCUHB still faces a challenging improvement agenda as it works to improve performance and governance within the context of a sustainable three year plan.”
In response to the Health Minister’s announcement that the health board was remaining in Special Measures, Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, said: “Any improvement in Betsi Cadwaladr health board’s performance is to be welcomed but we are almost four years into Special Measures and there are still huge problems in our local NHS.
“More than £30 million is still being spent annually on agency staff, there are more than 1400 vacancies including 565 nurses and A&E services in our main hospitals are at breaking point.
“Special Measures was supposed to be a temporary measure but we’re almost four years in with direct Welsh Government control and the signs of improvement are few and far between.
“The Health Minister must take responsibility for the health board’s performance but shows no sign of apologising for the ongoing problems staff and patients are facing.”
In August 2018 Mr Gething announced a cash injection of almost £7 million to help “push forward improvements for patients” at the health board.
Speaking at the time Mr Gething said: “In May I set out my expectations for the Health Board over the next 18 months, and made a commitment to provide more intensive support, including additional resources to quickly and efficiently deliver the improvements needed to the health board.
“Today’s funding forms part of that support. It will be used to set up stronger operational governance and accountability at the Health Board and to push forward financial improvements.
“I expect to see significant improvements for patients as a result, especially in planned and unscheduled care across North Wales.”
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