Betsi Cadwaladr: Permanent chair appointed to troubled health board

ITV Cymru Wales
The Special Measures intervention put in place by the Welsh Government is due to be refreshed soon following an assessment of progress. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

The appointment of a permanent chairman at the troubled Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board has been described as a "key" move to making improvements.

The former leader of Gwynedd Council, Dyfed Edwards will continue in the role, eleven months after being appointed temporarily.

Mr Edwards acknowledged that the health board has been "underperforming" and "falling short in terms of delivering world-class public services for our communities".

But he says both he and the 19,000-strong team at Betsi "share the same ambition to make lasting improvements in the health and the wellbeing of the population of North Wales and the provision of their healthcare services."

Health Minister Eluned Morgan made the announcement saying Mr Edwards would "continue to bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the board and will continue to build upon the excellent foundations he has put in place over the last 11 months."

Wales' biggest health board was put into special measures in February last year (2023) after Mrs Morgan said there were "serious concerns about performance, leadership and culture."

The entire board were removed from their positions. That was met with criticism, with the Welsh Conservatives calling for a "total clear out of this dysfunctional executive team."

Health boards in Wales are made up of a team of independent members which holds an executive team to account.

Recruitment is now underway for a further four independent members, these appointments will be announced in February.

Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan was designated a service requiring significant improvement. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Health Minister Eluned Morgan added: "The full complement of board members will ensure the board has the appropriate skills and expertise to lead the organisation through Special Measures."

Placing a health board into Special Measures does not mean the Welsh Government takes over the day-to-day running of the health board. That remains the responsibility of the board.

However, the health board is being supported by an intervention and support team.

The Special Measures intervention put in place by the Welsh Government is due to be refreshed soon following an assessment of progress.

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  • What are special measures?

Special measures refer to a range of actions which can be taken to improve health boards or trusts and specific NHS services in exceptional circumstances.

It is the highest level of escalation and happens when a health board or trust is not making the improvements expected and there are concerns that the leadership and management require external support to respond to the serious concerns identified.

The Welsh Government then has the power to suspend or remove duties from individuals of the board which are described as a "last resort" and will normally only be used if other intervention is unlikely to succeed.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for North Wales, Darren Millar is hoping the permanent appointment will bring more stability to the health board. He said: “The Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is nearing yet another anniversary in special measures, but patients and staff are yet to see the improvements they have been promised by Labour Ministers.

“The Chair of the Health Board is a key appointment with huge responsibility, so I wish Dyfed Edwards well in his role and look forward to continuing to engage with him.”

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