North Wales Community Health Council’s call for an independent review and questioned the suitability of those appointed to lead the response to the critical review of governance at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
He said: “Eleven NHS trusts in England were put into special measures by the UK Secretary of State for Health after an independent investigation by Professor Keogh found a catalogue of failures of hospitals with high death rates across England.
“With only 5% of the population that England has, Wales has nine hospitals, three in North Wales, with equivalent high death rates, but this First Minister and Welsh Government have rejected requests for an independent investigation here.
“The North Wales Community Health Council has strongly recommended that the Minister commissions an independent review, perhaps led by Professor Keogh. However, when I wrote to the Minister for Health about the Community Health Council’s concerns, he simply said that it was the responsibility of the health board.
“Our health boards fire the bullets loaded for them by this Welsh Government and then take the blame for the consequence s. There must be an independent review into Welsh hospitals with high death rates.”
Mr Isherwood added: “A damning in-patient survey at Betsi Cadwaladr, produced by the Picker Institute Europe, shows that the health board has scored significantly worse, on average, in areas including patients not receiving any information explaining how to complain, not receiving copies of letters sent between hospital doctors, and their GPs not being asked to give their views on the quality of care.
“Betsi Cadwaladr states that it has fully accepted the conclusions of the damning review of its governance arrangements by the Wales Audit Office and Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, and apologised for the failings that have occurred. An external support team was established by the Minister for Health to lead the board’s response to the review, led by the Chief Executive of, yes, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board, in conjunction with the acting Chief Executive of Betsi Cadwaladr.
"The same Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board, with high death rates, is now under investigation over neglect, and it is the same Betsi Cadwaladr board acting Chief Executive, who was in that role during periods to which the damning Wales Audit Office governance review applies.”