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First Minister accused of failing mental health patients following damning report

30 May 2024 4 minute read
First Minister Vaughan Gething – Image: Senedd Cymru

Emily Price

The First Minister has been accused of failing patients following the publication of a damning report into mental health services in north Wales.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) was put into special measures in 2015 amid financial woes, management failings, growing waiting lists and a critical report into a mental health unit.

It was de-escalated prematurely by the then Health Minister, now First Minister, Vaughan Gething.

Opposition parties say the decision by Mr Gething was made for political purposes ahead of the 2021 Senedd election.

A number of reviews and reports have been carried out since BCUHB was first placed into special measures a decade ago.

The Welsh Government commissioned the Royal College of Psychiatrists between May and December 2023 to asses how many of the recommendations were completed.

The report looked at four key reviews into mental health care in north Wales between 2014 and 2018.

It found that just 36% of the recommendations to improve services had been completed fully.


Plaid Cymru’s Mabon ap Gwynfor says the report shows that BCUHB were on the “right path” but couldn’t complete the recommendations because the former Health Minister de-escalated it too early.

He said: “This is a damning report. People’s health and wellbeing has been put at risk because of failures to put right decades old mistakes.

“Vaughan Gething’s fingerprints are all over the abject failure to sort out the most pressing and fundamental issues within the NHS in Wales. We know from the UK Covid Inquiry that Vaughan Gething took his eye off the ball in terms of pandemic preparedness, but we now know that his complacent attitude was no isolated incident.

“The Health Board has questions to answer and must make this a priority, but more worrying is the fact that the political messaging back in 2020 was that things were OK when they clearly were not.

“This shows a shocking disregard for the wellbeing of the people of north Wales and the First Minister must immediately rectify this by ensuring that the funding and support is given immediately to resolve these outstanding issues. This happened on his watch and I’m afraid that I have little confidence that the current First Minister will do anything to fix this.”

The Welsh Conservatives described the report as “scandalous”.


Shadow North Wales Minister Darren Millar said: “It is an absolute disgrace that so many recommendations have yet to be implemented after more than a decade since they were made.

“That the recommendations have not been implemented in spite of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board being in special measures for such a long time is scandalous.

“The Welsh Labour Government is directly responsible for these failings and the responsibility lies at the current First Minister, who took the irresponsible decision to remove the Health Board from special measures in the run up to an election for political reasons.

“People deserve an apology from the First Minister and rapid action to address shortcomings.”

The details of the report are due to be discussed by the Board at a meeting this week.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “In recent years there has been a large number of critical reviews, reports and a prosecution concerning Mental Health and Learning Disability services across Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

“As part of the special measures intervention, we commissioned the Royal College of Psychiatrists to undertake a review to assess the extent to which these recommendations have been completed.

“The health board has accepted the review’s key findings and we expect them to deliver those, while continuing to make progress in implementing safe and effective policies across its mental health services.

“We are pleased that the review authors highlighted the dedication of health board staff and their clear commitment to patient care and to service improvement.”

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christine alan
christine alan
13 days ago

where can I find a copy of the report?

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