As part of an ongoing programme of meetings regarding healthcare provision in North Wales, regional Conservative MPs have met the Senior Coroner for North Wales (East and Central). The Senior Coroner, Mr John Gittins, has a statutory responsibility to investigate violent, unexplained or custodial deaths, amounting to nearly 3,000 per annum. This gives him a unique perspective on patient care and management processes.
Despite Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) having been lifted out of special measures in November 2020, regional Conservative MPs – Sarah Atherton (Wrexham), Simon Baynes (Clwyd South), Virginia Crosbie (Ynys Môn), Dr James Davies (Vale of Clwyd), David Jones (Clwyd West) and Robin Millar (Aberconwy) – have been receiving worryingly high and increasing levels of correspondence from local residents regarding delays to, and inconsistencies with, treatment.
One issue at the forefront of discussions was A&E delays and their impact on wider healthcare provision. It was recently stated that BCUHB is the worst performing area in Wales against the four hour A&E target, with only 59.5% being seen within four hours. Partly as a consequence of this situation, ambulance response times are often being extended far beyond what is acceptable, with detrimental consequences. During the meeting, the Senior Coroner, who has the responsibility to issue ‘Prevention of Future Death’ reports (Regulation 28), noted that he produced reports on this
matter as far back as 2013 and that the challenges have intensified, particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic.
The MPs referred to welcome engagement with the current senior management of the Health Board and the fact that the challenges affecting the NHS in North Wales do not primarily relate to funding. The NHS in Wales has been managed by the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay since devolution in 1999.
Having called two meetings – with the Senior Coroner and the Community Health Council – the North Wales MPs are building a comprehensive picture of the challenges facing Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. The MPs are also meeting Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, the General Medical Council and Audit Wales in the coming weeks.