Health board placed in special measures due to ‘serious concerns on leadership and culture’

Wales’ biggest health board has been placed into special measures again, the Welsh Government has announced.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board was placed into special measures after a series of problems in 2015. It was taken out in 2020 but has now gone back in.

The whole board has been removed because of “serious concerns about performance, leadership and culture”.

Health and social services minister Eluned Morgan said: “I have serious concerns around the performance of the health board and I have not seen the improvement in services I expect for the people of North Wales. I have therefore decided to take action to rectify this.

“I have informed the board that I am putting the organisation back into special measures with immediate effect.

“This significant decision is made in line with the escalation framework. It reflects serious concerns about the performance of the organisation, about its governance, and issues with leadership and culture that are holding back progress.

“I recognise that the health board has had significant challenges for a number of years and has worked hard to overcome these challenges. But now is the time for new leadership to deliver the improvements that are needed.”

Dyfed Edwards, a former leader of Gwynedd Council, has been appointed the new chair of the board and is joined by three independent members.

Ms Morgan added: “Every day thousands of people are receiving good care from the NHS in North Wales but there is a large degree of inconsistency in safety, performance and quality across the region. Addressing this inconsistency will be the focus of the new board.

“Whilst special measures will apply to the organisation, I wish to reassure both patients and communities served by the health board, as well as the staff working for it, that day-to-day services and activities will continue, with an increased focus on quality and safety.”

Plaid Cymru health spokesman Rhun ap Iorwerth blamed Welsh Government incompetence and called on Ms Morgan to quit.

“Rather than pointing the finger of blame at the board, Welsh Government should be looking closer to home,” he tweeted.

“This is as much a failure of ministerial leadership as it is leadership within Betsi Cadwaladr. This all happened on Labour’s watch.

“The people in the north of Wales have witnessed damning report after damning report about their health service.

“They’re the ones that have been suffering under this dysfunction, incompetence and chaotic mess at hands of Labour Welsh Government.

“The patients and staff of Betsi Cadwaladr deserve better from their government.

“The least they deserve is an apology, but what we all need is the government to step up and take responsibility for this mess.

“The question is what will it take for the health minister consider her own position in the matter?”

Russell George, the Welsh Conservative shadow health minister, said: “As we have said since the decision was originally made, the health board should never have been taken out of special measures – it had not demonstrated sufficient progress to justify the move and seems to have been made out of political expediency, occurring just before the election.

“Whilst it is frustrating to see the board return to special measures, it is clearly a necessary move. However, the Labour Government needs to ensure that patients are put first.

“The Welsh Government has a lot to answer for after letting the situation degrade to this point, failing the people of North Wales who deserve far more from their health board.”

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds said: “This is the right decision, but Labour should never have allowed the situation to deteriorate to this point in the first place.

“It is clear that the health board shouldn’t have been taken out of special measures in 2020 and we now need to understand why that happened prematurely if the problems are still so extensive.

“People in North Wales cannot continue to pay the price for Welsh Government inaction.”

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