Betsi Cadwaladr health chief speaks of duty of care

Dr Peter Higson Dr Higson was appointed chairman of the health board in September

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The new chairman of the NHS in north Wales says it has a duty to deliver a safe, high quality service.

Dr Peter Higson made the comments at a Betsi Cadwaladr health board meeting where the agenda included an ombudsman report highlighting "failings" in the treatment of one patient.

There was also "concern" raised about handling complaints in patient care.

Dr Higson said the service must not tolerate some of the things that had been happening.

Appointed in September, Dr Higson is a former chief executive of Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW).

The former chair and chief executive stepped down in June, followed by the vice-chair in July, after a report revealed "significant management failings".

The health board meeting in Bangor was told an autumn upsurge in superbug Clostridium difficile (C. diff) appeared to stabilise this month:

  • Four cases at Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan compared with 12 in October
  • Six cases at Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor compared with 11 last month
  • Four cases at Wrexham Maelor, unchanged from October

The meeting was told it was still being investigated why the Maelor hospital should have a higher mortality rate for C. diff despite the incidence there being lower.

Several members spoke about a culture change required in the importance of simple but vital measures such as hand-washing to prevent infection on the wards.

Bob Evans, acting director of finance, said that despite an injection of £30.9m from the Welsh government, the board was heading towards a deficit of £12m for the full year.

He said officials were examining what savings could be made without affecting services.

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