“The people of the north of Wales deserve better from their government” – Rhun ap Iorwerth MS

New letters between the Auditor General for Wales and the former NHS Wales Chief Executive reinforce Plaid Cymru calls for the First Minister to correct the record over Betsi Cadwaladr.

The letters were exchanged following a statement made by the former Health Minister Vaughan Gething, who said at the time “the chief exec of NHS Wales, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales and Audit Wales have given clear advice that Betsi Cadwaladr should move out of special measures, and that is the basis for my decision.”

In a letter, seen exclusively by Plaid Cymru, it has now been understood that the Auditor General for Wales wrote to the then NHS Wales Chief Executive, Andrew Goodall to express concern at the “subtle but very important difference” that Mr Crompton felt should be made to the statement.

In his letter, the Auditor General, Adrian Crompton, notes that, had he been given the opportunity to “offer any views on its content” before Mr Gething’s statement was delivered to Senedd, he would have “would have asked for the statement to more clearly reflect that any advice to the Minister on the escalation status is provided by Welsh Government officials.”

Mr Crompton goes on to say that “Making it clear that it is Welsh Government officials who provide advice on escalation status of NHS bodies is a helpful and necessary way of dealing with situations where there is not a universally shared view around the tripartite table.”

In response, Mr Goodall wrote back to say that he would “of course highlight the point further to the Minister in terms of ensuring that the involvement of HIW and Audit Wales in the tripartite process is seen to be different from the specific recommendation that emerges from officials following the process.”

The Auditor General had also written to the Welsh Government to express his concerns. However, since then, the First Minister repeated the same misleading statement, indicating that concerns of the Auditor General and then Chief Executive of NHS Wales were not heeded by the Welsh Government.

Plaid Cymru spokesperson for health and care, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said:

“These new letters between the Auditor General for Wales and the former Chief Executive of NHS Wales reinforce Plaid Cymru’s calls for the record to be corrected over the reasons given for taking Betsi Cadwaladr health board out of special measures in November 2020 – a decision which we now know to be wrong.

“All we want is for the people in the north of Wales to get the health care that they want and deserve, and central to this is the way that Betsi Cadwaladr is managed. It is vitally important that Welsh Government are open and transparent about the reasons for taking this health board out of special measures – conveniently just before the 2021 Senedd election.

“I raised concerns at the time, due to issues were still being raised about the leadership, communications, and patient safety. And let’s not forget we were in the middle of a global pandemic! We now know that the decision was a wrong one – the health board is back in special measures, and continues to be plagued by damning report after damning report.

“To add insult to injury, Welsh Government have been caught out over the reasons given for taking the health board out of special measures in the first place. But rather than admit their mistake and correct the record, we have seen attempts by the First Minister and the current Health Minister to trivialise their way out of this very serious situation. We’re not playing politics or playing with semantics, it’s in black and white from the Auditor General and the former Chief Executive of NHS Wales.

“The patients, staff and people of north Wales have been caught in the middle of this row, and they deserve better than to be treated with such disdain by their government.”