North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood (pictured) has called on the Welsh Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, to resign for “failing to deliver" the required improvement at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) which covers Llangollen.
Speaking in the Welsh Conservatives debate on the troubled North Wales Health Board, Mr Isherwood expressed concern that BCUHB has been in Special Measures for coming up to four years, said that the Health Minister’s “repeated statements that he ‘expects to see action’ have become hollow”, and called for him to stand down.
Mr Isherwood said: “The self-proclaimed party of the NHS, Labour, is responsible for just seven Health Boards in Wales. It is shocking that five of these are in special measures of some kind.
“The largest of these, serving 1 million people, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in North Wales, will not be celebrating the fact that next Saturday will be four years since it was placed into special measures. Ministerial oversight of these special measures arrangements has been with the current Health Minister.
“No Conservative Prime Minister has ever cut an NHS budget. Under Labour, however, Wales was the only UK Nation to see a real terms decrease in identifiable expenditure on health between 2010 and 2016.
“Betsi Cadwaladr entered special measures after horrific reports emanated from the Tawel Fan Mental Health ward.
“The Welsh Labour Government has failed to heed the warnings of the Ockenden Review of this - and consistently ignored the concerns of families involved.
“They have instead relied on the 2018 HASCAS review which was described as a cover-up by the families."
He added: “In January Donna Ockenden said she had seen ‘insufficient progress’ in improving mental health services and revealed that staff had told her services ‘were going backwards’.
“Her 2018 Review was repeatedly informed that from the Health Board’s birth in October 2009, there was very significant cause for concern in the systems, structures and processes of governance underpinning a range of services provided by Betsi Cadwaladr.
“Speaking here in May last year, I asked the Health Minister why the conclusions of the HASCAS report Commissioned by Betsi Cadwaladr did not stack up with the findings of Donna Ockenden’s 2015 report, which the Welsh Government had accepted - or with a Healthcare Inspectorate Wales Report, or Dementia Care mapping work, both in 2013, the year that the Health Board states that it was alerted to serious concerns regarding patient care on the Tawel Fan ward. In fact, I had highlighted concerns in 2009.
“While frontline staff are working incredibly hard, last month the Public Accounts Committee found that the Welsh Government’s intervention with the Board has had ‘little practical impact’.
“The North Wales Community Health Council stated that it totally agreed with this report’s recommendations - and referred to a letter sent to the Health Minister in which they stated there is a belief among its members that Special Measures is now ‘the new normal’ and ‘appears to have lost its impact’.
Mr Isherwood also highlighted that the latest A&E figures show that Betsi Cadwaladr remains the worst performing in Wales, and that Wrexham Maelor hospital’s A&E department only saw half of its patients within four hours, and referred to the fact that in January, the North Wales Coroner, John Gittins, stated that ‘ambulance hold ups, staff shortages and the difficulty of getting speedy A&E care have contributed to numerous deaths and may claim more lives’.
He added: “This Health Minister’s repeated statement that he ‘expects to see action’ have become hollow.
“He needs to accept his responsibility for failing to deliver the required improvement at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, and honourably resign.”