Today marks four years since Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board was placed under direct Welsh Government control.
Welsh Conservatives marked this sad anniversary this week by holding a debate in the Welsh Parliament, asking the Welsh Government to act now to bring in key changes to take the board out of special measures.
The debate’s intentions were rejected by Welsh Labour; instead, they came together – joined on this occasion by the Brexit Party – to vote through a watered-down motion. Echoing the long drawn-out process which took them to the previous day’s decision to reject the M4 relief road, Welsh Labour pledged to wait until they received more advice before acting. Four years after the board was placed under governmental control.
The Welsh Government is now providing additional support to five out of seven health boards in Wales, and these four years at Betsi make it one of the longest periods an NHS body in Great Britain has been under special measures.
Residents of North Wales under the care of Betsi Cadwaladr are spread across a huge area of the country, making up 23% of the entire population. Despite this scale, residents are still regularly struggling against the worst A&E waiting times in the country, the highest number of reported patient safety incidents, and an almost-crippling shortage of GPs, midwives and community nurses.
Commenting on the anniversary, Shadow Minister for Health, Angela Burns AM, said:
“It was of course disappointing to hear the Welsh Government on Wednesday insist on continuing the weak leadership and endless delays which have seen Betsi Cadwaladr remain in special measures.
“I set out a clear plan to end the dithering and aid the recovery of the board, but typically it was rejected for the receiving of further advice and more procrastination.
“On this anniversary, I urge the Health Minister again to borrow a little of namesake Betsi’s wartime courage, and take the necessary bold steps to help cure this health board of special measures quickly.
“Welsh Conservatives will not be giving up our fight to see vast improvements made to healthcare across Wales.”