Damning Tawelfan report highlights failures at the very top

In response to the Ockenden Report on Tawelfan ward, Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM said:

“This is the third report into the Tawelfan ward and also looks at the wider context of management failures within BCUHB since it was established in 2009.

“This is an extremely thorough and lengthy report that regularly highlights systemic and institutional failings throughout Betsi Cadwaldr over a lengthy period of time. It will take time to digest the full report, but it’s already clear that such a damning report must raise questions over whether or how Betsi Cadwaladr should remain as it is.

“It’s clear that senior management and government over several years have failed to respond to a series of critical internal and external reports. The Ockenden Report is absolutely damning in outlining the failure to act on recommendations and to make improvements that were suggested to them. That this failure has continued throughout the period of special measures must also raise questions over the government’s responsibility and accountability – what exactly is the purpose of special measures if not to implement the recommendations made by reports?”

“Repeated warnings about a lack of staff, poor equipment and capacity issues were just ignored. The warning signs were flagged up by frontline staff repeatedly.

“This goes far wider than one ward. I have raised my concerns back in 2015 about similar problems in the Heddfan unit in Wrexham and the report acknowledges that all mental health units in the north should have been improved as a result of the scandal in 2015.

“The report also highlights the failure to investigate serious incidents and to deal with families’ complaints adequately.

“One result of the Tawelfan scandal in 2015 was that the board was taken into special measures by the Welsh Government. It listed five areas for improvement for this ‘temporary measure’ but we can see that four of those five areas have actually worsened in the three years since the health secretary took direct control.

“There are serious questions to be asked about the current BCUHB board but, equally, there has been a failure at the very top – a succession of health secretaries and ministers – to provide any kind of leadership.

“We’re left with a health board in north Wales that is dysfunctional and tainted. The frontline staff are doing an incredible job in the circumstances but they and their patients deserve so much better from the people in charge.

“When doctors  and nurses fail in their professional duties, they face being struck off. I have to ask the question – why not management too?

“If we don’t see serious structural changes in the way healthcare in north Wales is delivered, I fear we will see further reports highlighting the same problems in another couple of years. If people in charge are unable to learn from the mistakes of the past, we will see this macabre Groundhog Day repeat itself.”

The second Ockenden report can be found here and the Executive Summary here.

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