Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is to be taken out of special measures after five years, the Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething has confirmed today.
The body responsible for hospitals and other NHS services across north Wales had been under Welsh Government control since the summer of 2015.
It is the largest health organisation in Wales, providing a full range of primary, community, mental health, and acute hospital services for a population of around 694,000 people
The health board will be de-escalated from special measures to targeted intervention with immediate effect. Services including maternity and out-of-hours, have already come out of special measures in 2019.
Vaughan Gething, said: “I have decided that Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board will come out of special measures and move into targeted intervention. My decision is informed by the advice I received following a meeting between the Chief Executive of NHS Wales, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales and Audit Wales.
“We have seen improvements across the health board and have greater confidence that it will make further progress. Throughout the pandemic the organisation has worked hard to play its role in caring for people affected by the virus. During what has been an unsettling time for public health across the world, I’m pleased to announce this positive news for North Wales and NHS Wales.
“I want to thank everyone at the health board who has contributed to improving services. The progress has only been made because of the commitment and hard work of our staff. Whilst there has been improvement, there are still areas of concern such as mental health and the health board fully recognises there is still further work to do. Targeted intervention is still a heightened level of escalation that requires significant action on the part of the health board.
“The Welsh Government has committed a further £82m per year over three-and-a-half years to support the health board as it enters a new phase under targeted intervention and continues its ongoing work to improve. This substantial investment will be used to improve unscheduled care; build sustainable planned care, including orthopaedics; and deliver improvements in mental health services.”
Welsh Conservative health spokesperson, Andrew RT Davies MS said that after five years of special measures – the longest of any health organisation in the UK – any genuine progress at Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board would have to be welcomed.
“Staff and volunteers have gone above and beyond to deliver health services to the people of North Wales that they deserve, especially during Covid-19. Their dedicated and hard-work needs to be commended,” he said.
“However, concerns over governance and delivery of services for the people of North Wales are as pertinent today as when the health board entered special measures under the stewardship of this health minister in 2015.
“Let’s ask the most important question about this decision: what has happened since last month to so radically improve things at the board?”
He noted that the Health Minister had said, on October 7, just six weeks ago: “However, there remained concerns on performance and strategic solutions that may require specific external support. Specifically, the group wanted some further assurance from the health board in respect of progress in mental health services.”
Andrew RT Davies said he had “heard of miraculous recoveries” but “not like this”.
“We do hope this is not a cynical electoral ploy ahead of May’s Senedd elections, and marks a genuine first step to turning the organisation into an effective provider of first class health care, where patient safety and delivery of quality services in North Wales comes first,” he said.