Health Secretary rejects call for Betsi Cadwaladr board to be broken up

(Title Image: Daily Post)

The Welsh Government placed Betsi Cadwaladr health board – which runs health services in north Wales – into special measures several years ago and the opposition continues to use it as a stick to beat the government with.

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM (Plaid, Ynys Môn) believes that while the Health Secretary reports back regularly on improvements, there continues to be a “block” in the system – whether financial, managerial or otherwise.

He suggested the board might need to be split, not in terms of geography, but by separating primary care from acute/hospital care. The focus would then shift integrating health and social care from the bottom up to reduce pressure on hospitals.

The Health Secretary flatly rejected the idea.

“I, of course, want Betsi Cadwaladr to succeed. I want it to deliver the sort of quality of healthcare that each of us, in every single community, would expect. Your proposal to break up the health board is not one that is supported by the overwhelming majority of staff within the health board—we’ve been through this in response from them. And I don’t believe that the structural re-engineering that you suggest would deliver a better service.”
– Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething AM (Lab, Cardiff S. & Penarth)

Changing Minds

In a more positive development in north Wales healthcare, Llyr Gruffydd AM (Plaid, North Wales) celebrated the opening of a neonatal critical care unit at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd this week (known as the Sub-Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Centre, or SuRNICC).

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate those campaigners on their determination. Their campaign changed the minds of the health board and it changed the Government’s mind too, ensuring that a SuRNICC was developed as a centre for intensive care services in north Wales for the babies of the future.”
– Llyr Gruffydd AM

Naturally, the Health Secretary talked-up the fact the Welsh Government “looked at it again” (after previously wanted to downgrade the service). Underlining what he described as a lack of trust, Vaughan said staff still didn’t believe it would open even as it was being constructed; efforts would need to continue to rebuild that trust amongst staff and patients.

Bone Marrow Plight

John Griffiths AM (Lab, Newport East) raised the plight of a constituent who needs a bone marrow transplant.

“Marley Nicholls is a six-year-old boy in Newport East. He has a rare blood condition, aplastic anaemia, where his bone marrow and stem cells do not produce enough blood cells. He needs a bone marrow transplant, but nobody in his family is a match, and, indeed, nobody on the worldwide register is a suitable match either. So, they’ve launched a campaign to encourage as many people as possible to register as bone marrow donors and to have their bone marrow tested.”
– John Griffiths AM

The Health Secretary recently visited the Welsh Blood Service in Llantrisant and described the global register as an “amazing feat”. The ideal age range for bone marrow donors is 17-30 and they’re looking at social media campaigns, encouraging people from multiple ethnicities to join the panel and automatically asking blood donors within the age range to consider being a bone marrow donor too.

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