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Call for Welsh Government apology after failings at Ysbyty Gwynedd mental health unit

08 Dec 2021 4 minute read
The Hergest Psychiatric Unit, Ysbyty Gwynedd. Photo by Eric Jones is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Welsh Conservatives will today call on the Welsh Government to apologise to patients and the families of those adversely affected by the failings at the Hergest Unit in Bangor’s Ysbyty Gwynedd.

The Senedd will today debate the Holden Report, which revealed a “culture of bullying” and “low morale” among staff in the Hergest Unit, which was said to be in “serious trouble” and a place where “patient care is undoubtedly affected”.

The report was not published for eight years by the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board, but was released in full following an order by the Information Commissioner.

The Conservative motion includes a clause proposing the Senedd regrets the delay between the publication of the report and North Wales’ Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board being placed in special measures. It was only put in the highest level of intervention by the Welsh Government in June 2015.

Shadow Minister for Mental Health James Evans MS said that the Holden Report “exposes serious failings in leadership and management” at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

“It is only right that the patients and their families affected receive a full and frank apology from those culpable: the Board and from Ministers in Cardiff Bay,” he said.

“The delays in releasing the report have cast huge doubts, not only on the Health Board and the Labour Government’s ability to deliver dignified and effective mental healthcare, but its commitment to accountability and transparency. “


The Holden Report was commissioned in 2013 following a petition by staff on the Hergest Mental Health Unit in Bangor.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board had attempted to prevent the report’s publication, saying that it would breach the confidence of members of staff who contributed to it.

However, following a tribunal last month, the health board said that a redacted version can now be made available to the public.

Alongside publishing the report, Jo Whitehead, chief executive of BCUHB, said: “We acknowledge that the delay in publishing this report has frustrated some of those with an interest in it.

“Having reflected on the way that this has been handled, the board has decided that in the interests of openness and transparency, future reports of this nature will be made public.”

The report details that staff felt unable to raise concerns to senior management because they “feel very intimidated and fearful for their jobs if they speak out.”

The Welsh Conservatives have raised concerns that problems have continued on the war since the report was compiled, In one case a woman was left severely malnourished while on the Hergest Unit.

In 2016, Jean Graves was left severely malnourished while she was on the Hergest Unit – years after patient safety concerns had been identified and investigated by Holden. The Public Services Ombudsman, also found a series of failures by the Board in relation to her care, and her son received an apology from the Health Board for her treatment.

Shadow Minister for North Wales Darren Millar said that the “significant time lag” between the report’s completion and the decision to place the Health Board in special measures raised questions.

“The inability of Ministers to deliver the change they promised in north Wales’ mental health services is a scandal,” he said. “It’s been eight long years since this report was written and more than six years since the advent of special measures yet massive challenges remain. This situation cannot continue.”

The health board’s vice chair Lucy Reid said when the report was published that processes had been updated but added lessons must be learned.

“This was many years ago, and services have changed considerably since then, but it’s important for our population, patients and partners that we are able to clearly demonstrate that we have learnt from and implemented recommendations made from any of our reviews, regardless of how the concerns originated,” she said.

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2 years ago

The queue to make apologies is stuffed full of Tories with lists of apologies from “there was no party” Johnson.

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