‘Blow to confidence’ in health board as patients transferred from Wales to England treated ‘unjustly’
A north of Wales Senedd Member has said that Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board has delivered “another blow to confidence” after an ombudsman found that patients transferred to England had been treated “unjustly”.
Eight patients referred for urgent prostate cancer treatment in August 2019 waited too long for treatment but did not show up in Wales’ figures because they were being treated over the border, according to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.
Ombudsman Nick Bennett’s investigation found that as a result the patients’ cases were not assessed to see whether harm had been caused as a result of the long wait.
Ynys Môn MS and Plaid Cymru Health Spokesperson Rhun ap Iorwerth said that the failings had happened while Betsi Cadwaladr was in special measures and as such were “a result of Labour mis-management.”
“Yet again we hear reports of service failure within Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board while it was in special measures, and receiving additional support from the Labour Welsh Government,” he said.
“It is of grave concern to learn that the practice of referring patients to treatment providers outside of Wales, meant that these patients did not receive the standards set out in Welsh health policy, nor were they included in missed target time reporting.”
The Ombudsman’s investigation found that the Health Board “failed to monitor the provision of care and treatment for all patients as it should have done under its contracting and commissioning arrangements”.
Nick Bennett, said: “While the Welsh policy position at the time meant there was no requirement to produce breach reports to the Welsh Government or to carry out harm reviews for patients treated in England, the geographical location of treatment should not have left these eight patients in a position where they were denied the harm review process because they were treated outside Wales.”
He added: “Regardless of the Welsh policy position at the time, the Health Board was obliged to undertake appropriate monitoring of the care and treatment of its patients under its commissioning and contracting arrangements.
“It should also have considered the impact of the delay in treatment in these cases. These failures amounted to maladministration.”
While the health board accepted the findings and apologised, Rhun ap Iorwerth said the findings were worrying.
“While we can take some comfort that the health board has accepted the recommendations made in this report, the fact remains that this is another blow to the already waning confidence the people of north Wales have in their health board,” he said.
“It adds to concerns that Betsi Cadwaladr has long been unfit for purpose – that it is too big and cumbersome, its agenda is too centralised for the remote communities it is meant to serve.
“How much more evidence do we need of slipping standards as a result of a maladministration and lack of strategic direction?”