AMs to vote on plan to bring Betsi Cadwaladr out of special measures after 30 months of Welsh Government control

Assembly Members will today (29/11) vote on calls for the Welsh Government to publish a plan for bringing a North Wales health board out of special measures.

Betsi Cadwaladr health board first entered into the highest form of Welsh Government control in June 2015 – 30 months ago.

A Welsh Conservative motion – due to be debated later today in the Siambr – will also call on the Welsh Government to clarify how it intends to ensure that the delivery of services at Betsi Cadwaladr are not undermined by its projected £50m deficit.

Despite being in the highest form of Welsh Government control, Betsi Cadawaladr still trails behind Wales’ other six health boards on a number of major performance indicators.

As well as having the highest projected budget deficit, the health board has the worst record in the country for patients waiting longer than four hours in A&E, with latest records showing that 29% of patients exceed the Welsh Government’s target time.

In addition to this, waiting times for routine treatments have spiralled, with the number of patients waiting longer than 52 weeks for routine surgery rising from 94 patients in June 2015, when Betsi first entered special measures to 2,491 in September 2017 – a rise of 2550%.

In June 2015, just 80 people waited more than a year for trauma and orthopaedic surgery, but as of September 2017, 1,782 patients had been waiting longer than a year for trauma and orthopaedic surgery – a rise of 2127.5%.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Angela Burns AM, Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Secretary, said:

“Patients in North Wales will rightly be wondering why after 30 months of special measures the standard of care in Betsi Cadwaladr has actually become worse.

“More than an extra £10m has been spent on keeping the health board in special measures, and its budget overspend is set to reach £50m, yet we still haven’t seen a plan for improvement from the Cabinet Secretary.

“Today we are inviting Members from across the Siambr to unite in condemnation of the Welsh Government’s mishandling of healthcare in North Wales, and to demand a clear and instructive roadmap towards coming out of special measures. We should settle for no less.”

Mark Isherwood, the Welsh Conservative Regional Assembly Member for North Wales, said:

“Figures show that the average time that an English NHS trust stays in special measures is currently 21 months – nine months fewer than those Betsi has spent stuck in a Welsh Labour-controlled state of limbo.

“So if this was a health board in England, the data suggests we would have by now seen an improvement.

“That patients are routinely waiting more than four hours in A&E and longer than a year for routine surgery is nothing short of a scandal.

“Today we will bring the Welsh Government to book over these failings, and demand from the Cabinet Secretary a strategic underpinning to the millions of pounds that are being thrown at Betsi to keep it in special measures.”

/Ends

Notes to Editors:

Debate Motion

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales:

1. Welcomes the crucial role Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board frontline staff play in delivering services and supporting patients across north Wales.
2. Notes the Welsh Government’s decision to place Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in special measures in June 2015.
3. Believes that the Welsh Government has failed to address increasing waiting times in north Wales and the health board’s deteriorating financial position.
4. Calls on the Welsh Government to:
a) clarify what steps it is taking to ensure that the financial uncertainty at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board does not undermine the delivery of services;
b) publish a clear action plan for returning the health board to its normal status; and
c) explain the measures the health board will undertake to improve patient outcomes.