By Ken Skates AM / Latest News / 0 Comments

Ken Skates MS sets out steps to improve NHS services in North Wales

Member of the Senedd Ken Skates has set out the steps he believes the Welsh Government should take to improve health services in north Wales.

The Clwyd South MS called on Health Minister Eluned Morgan to commission independent assessments of the short-term impact and future benefits of splitting Betsi Cadwaladr, which is Wales’ largest health board.

He also called for the creation of a People’s Panel in the north to scrutinise and shape the future of the NHS in the region and repeated his belief that the new Citizens Voice Body, which will represent the voices and opinions of the people of Wales on health and social care matters, should be based in the north.

Mr Skates was speaking in a Senedd debate on Wednesday (June 8), in which the Conservatives called for BCUHB to be put back into special measures.

He said: “There is no doubt that health provision is the single biggest issue of concern to people in north Wales right now, and by some distance. And, whilst the vast majority of people in the region would doubtlessly applaud the phenomenal and tireless efforts of the healthcare workforce, there is considerable concern over service provision and outcomes.

“The Conservative motion sees a different set of special measures as the answer to the health board’s failings. The Plaid amendment offers reorganisation as the answer.

“I’ve considered both really, really carefully, and I do feel that both are worthy of further investigation and also an open-minded response. But I can also appreciate the likely response to both, that now is not the right time to reorganise and that we have an established process for placing specific services and entire boards into special measures.”

Mr Skates continued: “I’d make the following suggestions. Firstly, conduct some form of a truth review to completely look at the special measures process as a means of delivering improvement. If special measures arrangements are found to be deficient in any way, then let’s move to revise them.

“Secondly, conduct a truly independent assessment of the real and likely short-term impacts of reorganisation on service outcomes. Let’s have our eyes opened to the likely short-term consequences before examining the long-term possible benefits of reorganisation. Deciding on whether to embark on such a journey should be informed by the long-term potential benefits, but also by the short-term impact on services and outcomes.

“Thirdly, I’d recommend establishing, without delay, a People’s Panel in the north to interrogate the challenges and all possible solutions. A People’s Panel could offer, I think, an objective, informed, depoliticised and citizen-led view of what needs to change.

“And fourthly, let’s improve communications and transparency, establish an easily accessible online data dashboard for the seven health board areas so that the public can see how their services compare to other parts of Wales in terms of outcomes.

“We can’t be back in again in six or 12 months having the same debate. I’d implore the Minister to consider all constructive suggestions, such as those that I’ve offered, in order to restore public confidence in health services in north Wales.”

Mr Skates also tabled a Statement of Opinion this week – seeking support of other Members – proposing that the Senedd:

· Calls for the new Citizen Voice Body for Health and Social Care (CVB) to be headquartered in North Wales.

· Believes that locating the CVB headquarters in the North would demonstrate an early commitment by the organisation to decentralisation.

· Further call on the CVB to guarantee citizens that it will serve all parts of Wales equally by having fair representation of each of the health board areas at an executive and board level.