North Wales health board Betsi Cadwaladr placed in special measures

The North Wales health board, Betsi Cadwaladr, has been put into special measures.

The Welsh government's health minister, Eluned Morgan, said the action had been taken due to "serious concerns about performance, leadership and culture".

The health board had been placed in special measures before in 2015, before targeted intervention was de-escalated in November 2020.

The chair, vice chair and independent members of the board have agreed to step aside.

In their place, new independent members will be appointed.

The announcement comes after an Audit Wales report found "deeply worrying dysfunctionality" within the board's leadership.

The health board's acting chief executive has said the announcement is "extremely disappointing" but that they acknowledge that "more needs to be done".

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, the largest opposition party in the Senedd, has said that people in North Wales are "paying the price" for "serious failings" and has called on the health minister to "consider her position".

Plaid Cymru, which is part of a co-operation agreement with the government in Cardiff Bay on several key policy areas, has also said the government should "take responsibility for this mess" and have asked what it will take for the health minister to "consider her position".

Health minister, Ms Morgan, said: "I have serious concerns around the performance of the health board and I have not seen the improvement in services I expect for the people of North Wales. I have therefore decided to take action to rectify this.

"I have informed the board that I am putting the organisation back into special measures with immediate effect. This significant decision is made in line with the escalation framework. It reflects serious concerns about the performance of the organisation, about its governance, and issues with leadership and culture that are holding back progress.

"I recognise that the health board has had significant challenges for a number of years and has worked hard to overcome these challenges. But now is the time for new leadership to deliver the improvements that are needed."

'Extremely disappointing'

Ms Morgan has made a number of appointments to the board, with former leader of Gwynedd Council, Dyfed Edwards, appointed the new chair of the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board.

He will be joined on the board by Gareth Williams, Karen Balmer and Rhian Watcyn Jones on an interim basis, with further appointments to be announced in the coming weeks.

The recruitment process for a new chief executive will begin shortly, and the Welsh government says the health board will be supported by an intervention and support team.

Wales' health minister has stressed that despite the move to return the organisation to special measures, regular services and activities will "continue", with a greater focus on "quality and safety".

Gill Harris, interim chief executive at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: "While this is extremely disappointing, I acknowledge that more needs to be done at a greater pace to regain the confidence of our staff and our communities.

"The increased level of intervention and support that special measures will provide will involve working more closely with Welsh Government and the development of an improvement plan with key milestones. The arrangements will also involve the creation of a health board turnaround team during the coming weeks.

"The dedication and effort of our 19,000 staff has been recognised and this decision will help us to ensure our communities get the services they expect and deserve."