Improvements at troubled North Wales health board could take time, warns Health Minister
Wales’ Health Minister has warned that improvements at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board will take time despite confidence that the right steps are now being taken.
The troubled health board – which provides services to around 700,000 people across the region – was placed back into special measures for a second time this year amid serious concerns about performance, leadership and culture.
It followed a series of damning reports about the vascular services and the emergency department at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.
The Auditor General for Wales also highlighted “deep-rooted issues” with working relationships at the most senior levels of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
It revealed that fractured working relationships within the executive team are preventing the board from working effectively, leading to a lack of confidence from independent members in the team’s ability to tackle the issues.
The board was further rocked by a secret report on financial issues which outgoing Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said “seems to suggest corporate financial misreporting fraud”.
In March Dyfed Edwards, the newly appointed chairman of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, expressed uncertainty about the reparability of the board’s brand.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan appointed former Gwynedd council leader Dyfed Edwards as the new chair after forcing the resignations of all independent board members.
Independent board members accused the Welsh Government of failing to understand the situation and questioning why they were targeted when they had been challenging the executives.
Ms Morgan told the Senedd she lacked the powers even as Health Minister to make top managers step down.
Speaking at a Welsh Government press conference yesterday (Tuesday 6 June), Ms Morgan warned that improvements would not take place overnight at the health board.
Asked when residents in North Wales can expect an enhanced health service, she said: “We’ve got to be clear that this is not going to be a short-term fix, this is going to take a while.
“We need to make sure that the people that work for the health board understand the changes that need to be made.
“We do need to think about a new culture in the health board and we need to make sure that performance measures are improved.
“Our team here and Welsh government are trying to hold the hands of the people who are responsible for delivering for the people of north Wales, that is the health board themselves.
“We do not directly as Welsh Government provide health services, it is the health boards that deliver those services.
“We’ve now put in new independent members to change the way that the the top of the organisation works.
“My understanding is that there’s been a real change in terms of tone and relationships at the top of the organisation. But that now needs to filter through to the rest of the organisation.
“There’s a lot of work to be done in Betsi Cadwaladr, and this is not going to be something that we’re going to be able to turn around overnight.”
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