“Responsibility must lie with Welsh Government” says Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, as whistle blower reveals top managers have been removed following patient death
A letter from an anonymous whistle blower reveals that senior staff have been moved from posts following the death of a patient from suicide in April of this year.
The death happened at the controversial Hergest Unit, a specialised mental health hospital situated within the grounds of Ysbyty Gwynedd run by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB).
These allegations have been confirmed by Jo Whitehead, the Chief Executive of BCUHB, who was subsequently alerted to the anonymous letter by Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW).
In a letter dated 21st June 2021, Ms Whitehead confirmed to HIW that the West Head of Operations and the West Head of Nursing had been “relocated” to take up “alternative” duties, and that an external investigation would commence following the death of a patient by suicide in the Hergest Unit.
It has been eight years since concerns raised by staff at the Hergest Unit were first documented, and eight years since Robin Holden was commissioned to undertake an investigation into the mental health unit.
The findings from Holden’s report preceded another damning report at another mental health unit in the BCUHB, which led to the health board being placed in special measures in June 2015.
BCUHB was taken out of special measures in the run up to the Senedd elections, but Health spokesperson, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS says “questions must be asked” over this decision.
Mr ap Iorwerth says “enough is enough” and that Welsh Government must be held accountable for the “premature” decision to take BCUHB out of special measures.
The Holden Report has never been published in full.
Spokesperson for health, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said,
“The continued scandals must be urgently addressed, and my heart goes out to all the families that continue to be affected by these tragedies. Questions must be asked how Betsi Cadwaladr was able to come out of special measures when serious problems within mental health units clearly persist.
“Staff members have told me in recent days that problems of underinvestment and under resourcing still haven’t been addressed. Enough is enough. Leadership arrangements have once again been highlighted as a weakness – both by the staff that I’ve been speaking to, and in the letter from the Chief Executive.
“Welsh Government must accept responsibility for addressing these long running and deep rooted issues. If no decisive action is taken, these tragic episodes will continue, leaving an ever growing list of bereaved families with unanswered questions.”
Mr ap Iorwerth also repeated previous concerns about the structure of health delivery in the north of Wales:
“The actions taken in response to this tragedy may be seen by BCUHB as a sign of new determination to address issues in mental health care, but the that fact we’re talking about a huge board split into East, Centre and West indicates another continuing problem. That issues can get so out of hand in different parts, suggests once again that this is a board that is too big and unwieldy, and that a fresh start may be the only answer.”