Plaid Cymru’s health spokesperson Rhun ap Iorwerth MS has expressed “grave concern” at recent findings of maladministration in relation to patients on Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board waiting lists.
On Thursday 9 September an own initiative public interest report was issued under the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2019, following an investigation into a complaint against Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
The investigation looked into “possible incidents of service failure and maladministration” in relation to 16 patients waiting for urgent prostate cancer treatment in August 2019.
It was found that referring patients for treatment in England, meant that these patients were then not included in breach reports if they exceeded waiting time targets, nor were assessments completed to see whether harm had been caused to these patients as a result of the long wait.
The Welsh Government confirmed that its expectation was that the health board should have policies in place with English providers to mirror Welsh standards such as breach reports and harm reviews.
In August 2019, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board was under special measures, which meant that Welsh Ministers had formal intervening powers over the health board.
The health board was taken out of special measures in November 2020, at move which, at the time, Mr ap Iorwerth met with “scepticism” saying that “the board’s problems are chronic and structural, and that major changes are still required.”
Mr ap Iorwerth has previously called for a “new health and care landscape in the north”, and says that today’s report adds to his view that the health board is “too big and cumbersome, with standards suffering as a result of Labour mis-management.”
Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, Plaid Cymru’s health spokesperson said,
“Yet again we hear reports of service failure within Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board while it was in special measures, and receiving additional support from the Labour Welsh Government.
“It is of grave concern to learn that the practice of referring patients to treatment providers outside of Wales, meant that these patients did not receive the standards set out in Welsh health policy, nor were they included in missed target time reporting.
“Wider, equally serious questions remain about capacity and succession planning in the urology department.
“While we can take some comfort that the health board has accepted the recommendations made in this report, the fact remains that this is another blow to the already waning confidence the people of north Wales have in their health board.
“It adds to concerns that Betsi Cadwaladr has long been unfit for purpose – that it is too big and cumbersome, its agenda is too centralised for the remote communities it is meant to serve. How much more evidence do we need of slipping standards as a result of a maladministration and lack of strategic direction?”