Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board came under strong criticism from the deputy leader of Wrexham Council this morning, who branded their lack of attendance at meetings to tackle substance misuse in Wrexham a “disgrace”.
Deputy leader Cllr Jones challenged BCUHB about their attendance this morning at a meeting between health board representatives and members of the Safeguarding Communities & Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee at the Guildhall.
Described as a “unique process” to Wrexham, Cllr Jones explained that a Gold Command Group had been established to help tackle issues with substance misuse locally and to ensure there are “no blockages for recovery”.
The group consists of high level councillors and Wrexham Council Officers, along with the local MP Ian Lucas, Assembly Member for Wrexham Lesley Griffiths, police, social services and the housing department. With substance misuse treatment, mental health and other health issues obviously connected to the issues under the Gold Command, BCUHB were made members.
Today Wrexham Council’s Deputy Leader challenged BCUHB representatives over their non-attendance and lack of engagement. Cllr Jones told the meeting he was unhappy with the attendance at just one meeting, and had written to BCUHB’s Chief Executive Gary Doherty ‘expressing concern on behalf of Gold Command at the lack of engagement’.
This is not the first time the health board have been challenged for their involvement with helping tackle substance misuse in Wrexham, with Cllr Jones last month calling on BCUHB to do more to tackle issues with substance misuse in the town.
Speaking today Cllr Jones said: “Issues of substance misuse be it alcohol or drugs are not unique to Wrexham.
“What we have tried to provide is unique solution. Part of that we’e established a single point of contact and that single point its leasing with all elements necessary to deal with recovery of those involved with substance misuse.
“Still health are not engaging at a strategic level. (BCUHB) have attended one of the last six Gold meetings and each time as of last Friday they come with an excuse for not attending.”
He added: “I find this an absolute is a disgrace. We should be working in partnership, clearly health are not working in partnership. The aim is to reduce the burden on all our resources, the police, social service housing and health.
ultimately by providing a comprehensive solution to reduce problems. But without the effective engagement of the health board this is not going to work and we will fail.
“I am, as is the MP and AM, disgusted the health board continues to fail to attend our Gold Command meetings.”
Rob Smith, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s East Area Director, responded offering apologies for the non attendance and to take away the concerns raised and look for clarification in supporting the group.
Mr Smith said that BCUHB had attempted to get someone to attend however for ‘all sorts of reasons we could not’. Reasons expressed included an unusually high level of sickness at a senior level in the mental health department at BCUHB.
Mr Smith riled Cllr Jones after promising to look at the issue, by suggesting there might have been a ‘misunderstanding in terms of what is expected’.
Cllr Jones fired back, saying he cannot be “any misunderstanding to the expectations”, with several written exchanges between senior Wrexham Council officers and BCUHB over the issue
He also pointed out: “I do accept the resourcing issue. But this is high priority and something to reduce the burden. This is also something the public expect us to be dealing with.”