Wales

Welsh hospital care and ministerial apologies

  • 13 May 2014
  • From the section Wales
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The "Trusted to Care" report outlines some of the worst examples of care in the NHS in Wales since the beginning of devolution, which incidentally happened exactly 15 years ago this week.

It was striking at First Minister's Questions how the usual yah-boo politics surrounding the state of the NHS was entirely absent.

The First Minister opened up immediately by accepting the invitation from the leader of the Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, to apologise and to accept that the report was shocking.

I'm told that members of the Welsh government were taken aback by some of the report's findings into standards of care for the elderly at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend and at Neath Port Talbot Hospital.

Carwyn Jones says ministers can't be aware of everything that goes on in every hospital ward across Wales but instead we should judge him on the response to any failures that are identified.

There were conference calls across health boards this morning in which they were told they have a month to respond before a series of spot checks get underway across Wales.

The current chair of ABMU health board, the former Welsh Government minister Andrew Davies, said he considered his position but is continuing in the job.

No 'blame game'

But as Carwyn Jones said there won't be any heads rolling as a result and that was echoed by the Health Minister Mark Drakeford in the chamber when he stressed that the reaction should be about being constructive rather than blaming people.

The question is whether that will be enough to satisfy people when such a damning report has been published which talks about a disconnection between front-line staff and managers.

We already know it won't be enough to satisfy some of the relatives.

And we already know that the series of spot checks will not be enough to satisfy the continuing calls for a full Keogh-style public inquiry.

There are two sides to this debate. On one, the Welsh government says its refusal to hold a public inquiry is not because of a lack of transparency. It says that where there are problems it becomes aware of it responds and you could argue that is what happened here.

The flip side is the argument that unless there's a pan-Wales inquiry there'll be no guarantee that problems like these are not happening elsewhere.

The Conservatives in particular make the point that things have reached such a stage that an inquiry is the only way to restore confidence.

There'll be plenty of debate to follow. One of the main issues will be the inspection regime and failures of the system to pick these problems up in the first place.

The state of the NHS has been the big political issue in Wales for some time. Reports like this will ensure it stays that way for some time to come.