Wales

Cwm Taf health board boss resigns after maternity failings

Allison Williams
Image caption Allison Williams has been on sick leave since June

The head of a health board at the centre of failings in maternity care at two hospitals has resigned following calls for her to consider her future.

Cwm Taf health board said Allison Williams stepped down as chief executive on Tuesday.

In June it was revealed she was on sick leave.

It follows a damning independent review that described maternity services at Royal Glamorgan and Prince Charles hospitals as "dysfunctional".

Reacting to the news, a Tory AM said it would be "inappropriate" for Ms Williams to receive a pay-off.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething put Cwm Taf maternity services into special measures following the review in April and an independent panel was put in place to oversee changes at the hospitals in Llantrisant and Merthyr Tydfil.

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Media caption'We picked the wrong day to be ill'

The review by experts from two royal colleges was prompted by 25 serious incidents, including eight stillbirths and four neonatal deaths, between January 2016 and last September.

Concerns emerged in late 2018 that women and babies may have come to harm because of staff shortages and failures to report serious incidents.

Mothers who came forward said they were ignored or made to feel worthless.

At the time Ms Williams said some of their accounts were "nothing short of heartbreaking" and the health board accepted the review's findings.

Image caption Councillor Andrew Morgan said he wrote to the health board with concerns in January

But the leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf council, Councillor Andrew Morgan, said he had lost confidence in the health board months before the review and called for a change of management.

He said at the time: "It's still unclear who knew what and when but I still don't think the full picture has been revealed by the health board and for that reason I don't have confidence in the health board."

Speaking on Thursday about Ms Williams' resignation, Mr Morgan said it was "the right decision".

"Having spoken with patients and grieving families involved, and in light of the serious and unacceptable failings... I believe that it is in everyone's best interest that the CEO [chief executive officer] is replaced," he said.

"The tragic consequences of the systematic failings of this health board can never be allowed to happen again."

Image copyright Cwm Taf HA
Image caption Prince Charles Hospital now has an expanded special care baby unit and six en-suite delivery rooms

Tory AM for South Wales Central Andrew RT Davies said her resignation was "no surprise given the recent scandal", adding: "Given the circumstances it would be inappropriate for any pay-off to have been agreed whilst the various inquiries are ongoing."

Labour AM for Pontypridd Mick Antoniw said the resignation was "the appropriate course of action".

Plaid Cymru AM for Mid and West Wales Helen Mary Jones said she was "glad to hear" of the resignation and Ms Williams "must be held accountable for her failures".

She added: "Many of the families affected will feel that Ms Williams should have been held accountable and I share that view."

Rhondda Labour MP Chris Bryant said: "I think she clearly made mistakes, she didn't keep the board fully informed and that included representatives from the local authority.

"My main interest at the moment is to try and make sure the maternity service that every single would-be mum gets is absolutely top quality. We have got lots of challenges," he told BBC Radio Wales' Mai Davies.

Since March, the more complex maternity cases - overseen by consultants - have all gone to Merthyr. Facilities here include a special-care baby unit.

Health board chairman Prof Marcus Longley thanked Ms Williams for her dedication to the organisation.

He added: "She has played a key role in securing university status for the organisation [and] has a demonstrable track record of strong engagement of clinicians, staff, trade unions and partners; and delivery of significant change that has led to the transformation of services and the NHS estate in the area."

Cardiff and Vale deputy chief executive Sharon Hopkins took over as Ms Williams' interim replacement when she went on sick leave.

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