Health Minister asked to consider position as Betsi Cadwaladr returns to special measures
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board will be put into special measures by the Welsh Government due to “serious concerns” over its performance, leadership, and culture, according to Health Minister Eluned Morgan.
The board’s chair, vice chair, and independent members will step aside, with new people set to be appointed to lead the organisation.
The Health Minister acknowledged that the health board has faced significant challenges for a number of years and has worked hard to overcome them, but new leadership is needed to deliver the improvements required.
She also stated that while special measures will apply to the organisation, day-to-day services and activities will continue, with an increased focus on quality and safety.
Ms Morgan said: “Every day, thousands of people are receiving good care from the NHS in north Wales, but there is a large degree of inconsistency in safety, performance, and quality across the region.
“Addressing this inconsistency will be the focus of the new board.”
Responding to the announcement, Plaid Cymru spokesperson for health and care, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: “People in the north of Wales deserve an apology over Betsi chaos on Labour’s watch.
“A little over two years since the ill-fated decision to take Betsi Cadwaladr prematurely out of special measures – conveniently before the 2021 Senedd elections – and we now hear that the health board is being put back into special measures, and members of the independent board have been made scapegoats.
“Rather than pointing the finger of blame at the board, Welsh Government should be looking closer to home.
“This is as much a failure of ministerial leadership as it is leadership within Betsi Cadwaladr. This all happened on Labour’s watch.”
“The people in the north of Wales have witnessed damning report after damning report about their health service.
“They’re the ones that have been suffering under this dysfunction, incompetence, and chaotic mess at the hands of Labour Welsh Government.
“The patients and staff of Betsi Cadwaladr deserve better from their government.”
He added: “The least they deserve is an apology, but what we all need is the government to step up and take responsibility for this mess.”
“The question is what will it take for the Health Minister to consider her own position in the matter?”
Independent members resigned from their posts, citing concerns about the future of healthcare services.
In a letter seen by our sister site Wrexham.com, the members criticised the Welsh Government’s “grasp of the situation” and raised doubts about the Health Minister’s response to a recent damning Audit Wales report.
They also highlighted serious failings in the financial management of the health board, which resulted in a counter-fraud investigation.
According to the members, the responsibility for service quality and governance had been placed on their door without recognising the limitations of their powers as independent members.
A number of direct appointments to the board have been made by the minister to ensure stability.
The non-executive team will be led by Dyfed Edwards as the new chair of the health board, a former leader of Gwynedd Council and the deputy chair of the Welsh Revenue Authority.
The new chair will focus on renewing the leadership and culture of the health board which will support its workforce to provide safe and effective services for the people of north Wales.
Dyfed will be supported by Gareth Williams, Karen Balmer and Rhian Watcyn Jones as interim independent members of the board.
Further direct appointments will follow in the next few weeks.
A campaign to recruit new independent members to the board who will take the organisation forward beyond this initial period of stabilisation will commence later this year.
Key to developing and building a sustainable organisation will be the appointment of the substantive chief executive. The recruitment process for this post is about to start.
The health board will also be supported by an intervention and support team.
Gill Harris, interim chief executive at Betsi University Health Board, said: “Following the publication of the Audit Wales report on board effectiveness last week and in light of the significant challenges we continue to face, the Health Minister has today announced that the health board will be escalated into special measures.
“While this is extremely disappointing, I acknowledge that more needs to be done at a greater pace to regain the confidence of our staff and our communities.
“The increased level of intervention and support that special measures will provide will involve working more closely with Welsh Government and the development of an improvement plan with key milestones.
“The arrangements will also involve the creation of a health board turnaround team during the coming weeks.
“The dedication and effort of our 19,000 staff has been recognised and this decision will help us to ensure our communities get the services they expect and deserve.
“I would like to thank Mark Polin, Lucy Reid and all of the independent members for their support during some of the most challenging times the NHS has ever faced.”
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