Senior representatives of the General Medical Council and Healthcare Inspectorate Wales have met North Wales Conservative MPs.
During the meetings – the third and fourth of an ongoing programme of discussions – local MPs set out their serious concerns regarding healthcare provision in the region.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) was lifted out of special measures in November 2020, but local MPs report a very high level of complaints from residents, with the nature of these complaints being of ever increasing concern. In recent months, the Royal College of Surgeons has published a damning report into vascular services at the Health Board, while significant concerns continue with respect to mental health services in particular. Increasingly, occasions when there is a lack of basic access to healthcare, including emergency provision, are also being raised by constituents.
The Welsh Government is responsible for healthcare in Wales.
Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) has a duty to inspect NHS services and highlight serious issues within the Health Board area. During the discussion Alun Jones, the Chief Executive, explained why the organisation has been drawn to focus on BCUHB in recent years. Whilst necessary, Mr Jones acknowledged that this focus is diverting resources away from other parts of Wales. The MPs agreed to work constructively with HIW to flag challenges brought to their attention.
The General Medical Council (GMC) is a UK-wide body which helps to protect patients and improve medical education and practice in the UK, by setting standards for students and doctors. The GMC supports them in achieving and exceeding those standards, and takes action when they are not met. GMC representatives were aware of the vascular report and indicated that a detailed programme of work has started to address long-term failings. Recognising the need for urgent improvements, steps have been taken to develop basic clinical skills, including record keeping within the Health Board area. The GMC’s Medical Director confirmed that the organisation can obtain information from any source and can, if necessary, communicate concerns direct to BCUHB.
Both organisations agreed to continue an open engagement with the North Wales MPs.
The MPs will meet with Audit Wales later this month, before collating the information from all five meetings and reflecting on future action.