Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board nowhere near good enough - head

Hospital Sign
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s chief executive says the organisation’s key focus moving forward are long-term goals, a year after being placed back in special measures. [BBC]

The chief executive of the north Wales health board has said that its service is "nowhere near good enough".

Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board was placed under special measures again last February, with board members removed and finance staff suspended.

Chief executive Carol Shillabeer told a board meeting that it was looking at long-term improvements.

Wales' public sector watchdog has praised improvements, but stressed that further action was still needed.

The board was taken out of special measures in 2021, and then in February 2023 the Welsh government announced that it was being put in the highest level of escalation after serious concerns about performance, leadership, and culture.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan highlighted eight areas of concern.

These included governance and board effectiveness, workforce and organisational development, financial governance and management, compassionate leadership and culture, clinical governance, patient experience and safety, operational delivery, planning and service transformation, and mental health.

Board members were then forced to quit and new members appointed.

Speaking at Venue Cymru in Llandudno, chief executive Carol Shillabeer said: "The organisation was spinning a year ago.

"There were pretty dramatic changes made, and that has an impact on how an organisation can function," she said.

"So our key focus has to be to try and get an organisation that can function well because when we've got an organisation that functions well, we are able to tackle the issues that matter to people."

Board members heard how an action plan had been devised and a board development programme developed and implemented, focusing on areas of concern, including the eight areas highlighted by the Welsh government.

Other improvements included planned care waiting times, with a 19% reduction in people waiting 208 weeks to start treatment; a 63% cut in people waiting over 156 weeks for their first appointment or to start treatment, and a 21% reduction in people waiting 104 weeks compared to last year.

The board also heard how urgent and emergency care work at emergency departments was ongoing. But whilst the report said 'some improvement had been achieved' winter pressures had hampered efforts and further improvements were still required.

Despite this the board acknowledged more changes needed to happen across the service.

Executive medical director Nick Lyons said: "There are huge challenges left for us. But perhaps we should (acknowledge) there has been a 63% reduction in people waiting over 156 weeks."

Other improvements included five- and six-year waiting times eradicated, 18 days improvement in prostate cancer diagnosis, and a £29m investment in Llandudno Hospital.