North of Wales’ health board facing ‘very challenging situation’ amid critical reports
Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
The north of Wales’ health board is facing a “very challenging situation” following a series of critical reports, its chair has admitted.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has come under fire in recent weeks after an inspection of the emergency department at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd (YGC) highlighted concerns over “lengthy delays” faced by patients.
It saw Health Inspectorate Wales (HIW) categorise the department at the hospital in Bodelwyddan as a “service requiring significant improvement”.
The health watchdog also flagged up problems at the emergency department at Ysbyty Gwynedd in a report published in April, including oversight of the waiting area and delays in transferring patients with time critical conditions.
It came shortly before complaints raised by nurses at the Bangor hospital over claims of bullying and “unreasonably long working hours” triggered a review of working conditions.
And in February, the health board was warned to make urgent improvements or it could be placed back in special measures after a damning report into vascular services in the region.
Betsi Cadwaladr’s chair Mark Polin told a recent meeting of health board members that the issues had led to question marks over the effectiveness of its leadership.
However, the former chief constable of North Wales Police insisted plans were already in place to deliver the changes needed.
He said: “We are in a very challenging situation in terms of some of the performance concerns that we have discussed previously and will be highlighted today.
“(These include) the number of adverse reports that we are seeing from Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, from our own internal audit department, from Audit Wales and from others.
“We also have a number of serious incidents and never events arising.
“We are in the midst of a very challenging period and we need to demonstrate that we are recognising that situation and responding accordingly.”
Recent events have led opposition politicians in the Senedd to question whether the health board was brought out of special measures prematurely.
Betsi Cadwaladr was removed from Welsh Government control in November 2020 with its escalation status changed to “targeted intervention”.
But Wales’ Health Minister Eluned Morgan has rejected calls from Plaid Cymru to scrap the health board.
She also told its critics that their comments were making it more difficult to recruit healthcare staff in the region.
Speaking at Thursday’s (May 26, 2022) meeting, Mr Polin said all of the recent reports were in the process of being addressed.
He said: “We are going to have to ensure that we have a greater level of confidence than we have had around the adverse incident reports that are arising.
“They require urgent attention and are receiving urgent attention.
“Concerns have been highlighted by staff and particularly nursing staff at Ysbyty Gwynedd and they are also being examined as a priority.
“Immediate steps have also been taken to address the significant issues highlighted by HIW at YGC emergency department but more clearly needs to be done in that regard.”
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