April 22, 2024

Betsi Cadwaladr: Health board still faces challenges – report

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Betsi Cadwaladr is the biggest of Wales’ seven health boards

A troubled health board is still facing “fundamental challenges”, according to a report.

Wales’ public sector watchdog praised improvements but stressed that further action was still needed.

The health board said it could not comment on the suspended staff until the investigation was finished.

Betsi Cadwaladr came under increased scrutiny last year after financial irregularities were uncovered and “serious concerns” raised about its performance, leadership and culture.

Adrian Crompton, the auditor general for Wales, said vacancies on the board must be filled “as quickly as possible” and “ongoing personnel issues” in the finance department must be resolved.

Investigations into the suspended staff “have proved to be complicated” and were still ongoing, he said.

A previous report by the Ernst Young accountancy firm found that the finance team had deliberately made incorrect entries in the accounts, allocating spending to a single financial year when it was in fact spread over several.

Mr Crompton said: “It’s assuring to see that the dysfunction within the health board’s senior leadership that we described last year is no longer present.

“There is now a need for the board to build upon this progress and provide the unified organisational leadership that is needed to address the significant and ongoing challenges facing the health board.”

The report was welcomed by the chairman of the health board, Dyfed Edwards.

“I fully understand that there is much more to be done as we continue on our improvement journey in order to ensure excellent healthcare services for the people of north Wales,” he said.

“Over the last 12 months we have worked to create stability and a positive and supportive culture within the health board, whilst focusing on quality of service provision and reaching out to patients and the public we serve.”

Mr Edwards said there was now a “firm foundation” to build on, with a new chief executive and board members in place.

This is the second time the organisation has been placed under special measures after a five-year stint between 2015 and 2020.

In October, Welsh Secretary David Davies’ call for an independent inquiry into the health board was dismissed by the Welsh government which said it would divert resources and attention from improving care.

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