Mark Drakeford defends health minister over handling of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

Mark Drakeford has strongly defended Wales' health minister amid recent calls for her to be sacked.

Mark Drakeford has strongly defended Wales' health minister amid recent calls for Eluned Morgan to be sacked over the crisis engulfing the country's biggest health board. 

The First Minister stood by her handling of troubled Betsi Cadwaladr University health board - asking the eleven members of the independent board who’d been put in place to monitor executives to quit their positions.

Betsi Cadwaladr, which runs services in the North, was put back into special measures last week, three years after it had been taken out of them.

"I think the health minister has acted decisively to grasp the problems that recent reports have exposed," Mr Drakeford told ITV1's Sharp End.

"Difficulties exist at the board level. Every day thousands of people in North Wales get an excellent service at the front line from those professional workers who they see."

Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, a hospital under the Betsi Cadwaladr health board, was specifically placed in targeted intervention in September 2022.

Betsi Cadwaladr health board is responsible for the delivery of health care services to more than 700,000 people across the six counties of north Wales - Anglesey, Gwynedd, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham.

Opposition parties in Wales have been critical of the Welsh Government's handling of the issues facing the health board. Plaid Cymru called for Health Minister Eluned Morgan to be sacked.

"It's the job of our political opponents is to try to pick holes in Labour's record," Mr Drakeford said.

"There are challenges that we have to face every day and re-establishing the health service in the post-Covid period with money in very short supply is a struggle. It's a struggle in every part of the United Kingdom."

Political Editor Adrian Masters put it to the First Minister that Labour has been in charge of the health service for 25 years.

Mr Drakeford said: "The Tories have been in charge of the health service in England for 35 of the last 50 years and everything they face, we face here across the border as well.

"It's the job of the opposition parties in Wales to pick holes in our record but actually in the end they are not the audience. The audience is people here in Wales.

"I go on, and my colleagues go on, working as hard to re-cement the relationship that Labour has with the people of Wales and to win their trust."

The FM said there was no choice but to act the way his colleague, Eluned Morgan, did, and that she has his full confidence.

He said: "It's challenged in some place but I don't think you can read those reports and simply believe that things could continue as they were.

"The whole of my ministerial team act together. We're a very united cabinet. We support one another in the difficult jobs that people have to do and that support is powerfully extended to the health minister, who in many ways, has the most challenging job of all."

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