Two ‘concerning safety incidents’ identified in vascular services in North Wales as complex cases moved to Liverpool
The health board in North Wales has said there have been further failings in its vascular services just weeks after Health Minister Eluned Morgan issued a warning to make urgent changes or face being placed back in special measures.
Betsi Cadwaladr has said it has identified two recent “concerning safety incidents”, meaning complex cases will now be sent to Liverpool for at least a month while the health board investigates.
Plaid Cymru said it’s “another week, another alarm is raised about vascular services in the north of Wales” and called for total transparency from BCUHB about the circumstances.
In a statement, the health board said: “Recently there have been two concerning safety incidents in the vascular service.
“We are investigating these to ensure that we learn from them to improve the service we provide for our patients.
The health board said it was currently experiencing staffing capacity issues and “in the process of recruiting to help address these.”
The statement says: “A strengthened team will ensure that we are better placed to deliver the service that the people of North Wales have a right to expect.
“The safety and experience of our patients is our utmost priority.
“While we continue to appoint additional expertise to strengthen our team, a very small number of complex vascular cases will receive very specialist care from our colleagues at the Liverpool vascular network.
“We expect around four additional emergency procedures per week will take place at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Trust, rather than Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. This arrangement will be in place for four weeks and then reviewed.”
In February, Welsh Health Minister Eluned Morgan issued a “clear warning” to Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to improve vascular services or face “further escalation measures”.
The North Wales health board has come under fire after a “damning” report into vascular services in the region, which raised serious questions about the quality and consistency of care.
The health board was taken out of special measures in November 2020 after then Health Minister Vaughan Gething praised a number of service improvements.
It meant the board was placed into the less serious “targeted intervention” category.
The Health Minister warned the health board it could face further measures if improvements aren’t made.
It follows an ultimatum being issued for the board to implement recommendations from a review by the Royal College of Surgeons within the next three months.
Dr Nick Lyons, Executive Medical Director at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said: “We are implementing the recommendations of the recent Royal College of Surgeons reports on our vascular service.
“These include working in closer collaboration with the Liverpool vascular network on complex vascular cases.
“During the next few weeks, we expect to be strengthening the capacity and capability of the existing vascular team further.
“We are also temporarily adding more consultants onto our on-call rota to ensure the safety of our patients.
“We are being open and transparent about the challenges in this service. It is the only way we can build trust and confidence with the public we serve.
“I am sincerely sorry for the delay to the treatment of our vascular patients and recognise that it may cause inconvenience and distress.
“Patient safety and experience is the driver of this decision, which is a temporary solution while we put in place steps to assure ourselves that the service has the right workforce capacity and capability.
“Our relentless focus is on doing the right thing for our patients and delivering the best possible outcomes across our North Wales network.
“We remain resolute that the Board decision to consolidate the vascular service in a hub and spoke model was the right one and is supported by the Royal College of Surgeons as the best arrangement for the North Wales population.”
Rhun ap Iorwerth, Plaid Cymru spokesman for health and care, and the Senedd Member for Ynys Môn said: “Another week, another alarm is raised about vascular services in the north of Wales.
“The categorising of the service last week by Health Inspectorate Wales as a ‘service requiring Significant improvement’, following the publication of a damning report by the Royal College of Surgeons, highlighted again why I, and my Plaid Cymru colleagues, have been right to raise concerns about – and to oppose – the recent centralisation of services.
“Now we’re told that there have been ‘two concerning safety incidents’. ”
“Whilst respecting patient confidentiality, we need total transparency from BCUHB about the circumstances.
“But we also need to see vascular services in the north being put in the highest possible level of special measures as work begins to restore patient confidence and to restore the quality of local services.”
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