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Concerns raised over North Wales vascular services after damning report

Concerns have been raised over the state of vascular services in North Wales healthcare after a report found the implementation of its treatment model was “poorly executed”.

The second part of an independent review of vascular services in Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board by the Royal College of Surgeons was released today.

It reviewed 44 sets of case notes and found deficiencies in care, record keeping, consent-taking, and follow-up in a number of the cases examined.

The first part published in March last year detailed nine urgent recommendations to be put in place in order to address patient safety risks, and two recommendations for service improvement.

The Health Minister, Baroness Morgan, admitted she was “disappointed and concerned” by the report. She added: “I expect the health board to address these issues with immediate effect and put a plan and processes in place to contact and review patients appropriately and sensitively.”

Ahead of the report’s release, the Health Board’s Chair and Chief Executive said the report made for “disappointing reading” for them, that they take the findings “very seriously”, and acknowledge that the service they “implemented is not always delivering to the high standards our patients deserve”, apologising to those who have been affected.

Commenting, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said:

“This report is another in a long line highlighting the deficiencies in healthcare in North Wales. Vascular services are extremely important and substandard provision is no trivial matter, so Betsi Cadwaladr should not waste time in implementing the report’s recommendations.

“I do welcome the strong assurances the health board has provided the Minister on the recommendations, the steps to strengthen clinical leadership, and the intention to enter into an arrangement with a larger vascular service in England for greater oversight and support.

“However, the Minister could herself show more leadership: far too often during the pandemic we have seen her abdicate responsibility for resolving issues to health boards, and it seems that is set to continue for the NHS in general.

“Labour must get a grip on the NHS instead of leaving the health board – and so the people of Wales – to fend for itself.”

The Shadow Minister for North Wales and MS for Clwyd West, Darren Millar, added:

“This report is extremely alarming for people across North Wales and provides yet further evidence of failures in leadership in the NHS across the region. 

“The fact that the cases which were reviewed related to a period when the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board was in special measures makes it all the more concerning and exposes the complete inability of Ministers in Cardiff to address the underlying failures in our health services.

“We need rapid action from the Labour Government to resolve the issues identified by the Royal College and restore faith and public confidence in vascular services as soon as possible.”