Health board concerns system 'shambolic and broken'

There is an 'ongoing failure of [Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board] to deal in an appropriately timely way with complaints perceived as very serious by families,' according to a report out today.

The latest paper from Donna Ockenden, looking into the governance arrangements at the health board is highly critical of multiple aspects of how the health board has, and continues to, run older people's mental health services.

The report says the system for raising concerns has been described as ‘shambolic’ and ‘broken' with communication between ward staff and the executive team as 'critically weak' and that "many staff and service users lacked confidence in the ability of the BCUHB Board to navigate the long and difficult road ahead."

The review is the second by Donna Ockenden and the third into services at the trouble health board.

The last report, by the Health and Social Care Advisory Service said there was "no evidence" to suggest patients suffered from abuse or wilful neglect, despite findings in the initial Ockenden report of 2014.

‘Institutional abuse’ at Tawel Fan

Today's report says: "There was little evidence found by the Ockenden team of any significant ‘lessons learned’ from events on Tawel Fan ward."

It was a review of Tawel Fan which prompted the Welsh Government to put Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in special measures. This move was designed to turn the fortunes of the health board around and ensure improvements.

While there is an acknowledgement that some improvements have been made, the report again suggests there is 'little evidence' that such improvements are on a 'sustainable footing'.

Read the full report.

As today’s report suggests, many of our current challenges stem from historic issues which will not be overcome in a matter of weeks. There is much work to do to embed improvements across the whole organisation and we are committed to shifting cultures to embrace change for the good of the population we serve. We recognise that reports like this one can have a demoralising effect on our staff who work very hard to deliver the best care to patients. Our top priority now is to accelerate the pace of progress already being made across the organisation.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board Chairman Dr Peter Higson and Chief Executive Gary Doherty

The report's author, Donna Ockenden said she found 'significant flaws' in the health board's management structure.

I have found that the systems, structures and processes of governance, management and leadership introduced by the BCUHB Board from 2009 were wholly inappropriate and significantly flawed. The BCUHB Board was alerted to those significant flaws, both internally and externally, for many years before action began to be taken. Where progress has been made, it has been too slow. I hope that this report can help accelerate the pace of improvement that the resident population of BCUHB and their staff deserve.

Donna Ockenden, report author

Following the publication of the long awaited reports from both HASCAS and Donna Ockenden we now have completed investigations and reviews to underpin improvement action. The Board has very clear advice on the improvements that need to be made to benefit the population of North Wales and staff at BCU. It must focus its attention on the acceleration and implementation of improvement. I have made my expectations on this crystal clear to Board.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething AM