Health board not learning lessons on mental health patient safety

Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM has today raised concerns that a health board is risking patient safety and failing to learn lessons from a mental health ward scandal.

Llyr Gruffydd AM raised his concerns in the Senedd about Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board after a report highlighted serious issues around patient safety.

The health board’s own risk register, he said,  meant that in some cases the board risked breaking the law.

The findings of the annual safeguarding report outlined 13 ‘red’ areas of risk, including:

  • Risk of sanctions caused by “significant failings to comply with safeguarding legislation”. This is in relation to rules on when and why elderly or vulnerable patients are held for their best interests, when they may not have the mental capacity to decide for themselves
  • Adults and looked-after children at risk of domestic abuse or mental health problems “may not be recognised when attending A&E, which may result in significant harm”
  • 40% of staff at the board are not trained in safeguarding, “leading to a risk that patient safety may be compromised”
  • There is a “significant breach of legislation linked to sharing confidential information” using non-secure email outside of the board’s network

Mr Gruffydd questioned First Minister Carwyn Jones in the Senedd on the matter, saying this was an issue not just for the health board but also the Welsh Government, which took the board into special measures more than 18 months ago.

Mr Gruffydd added: “It’s more than a year and a half since going into special measures and receiving additional support and we have to ask whether Betsi Cadwaladr is learning lessons and making improvements.”

“These are serious risks identified by the health board itself. The scandal surrounding Tawel Fan should have been a wake-up call regarding the need to take at-risk patients’ safety and well-being seriously. We do not want to see a repeat of that.”

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