Repair relationship

I was expecting a highly detailed and technical statement from the health minister Mark Drakeford about the measures to improve health services in north Wales.

Instead, I was struck by how much of the detail of the special measures imposed on Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board relate to the need to listen and repair the relationship between the board and the public.

Above all, he believes the Welsh government needed to intervene because of this loss of trust.

To coincide with the statement, the Welsh government also published a previously unseen report into Betsi Cadwaladr by the former chief executive of the Welsh NHS Ann Lloyd.

As if we needed it, the report paints a picture of a dysfunctional organisation that required a "mammoth" effort to be turned around, and where the chairman thought there was a rigid and bullying culture.


Mark Drakeford told me it was pivotal in leading to the advice that was given to him by officials to put the board into special measures this week.

He says he was aware of the findings that were given to the Betsi board in March but that he wanted to follow the formal intervention process that everyone knew about.

The report has been used as justification by ministers to step in but it in no way reduces the pressure they're under to get it right.

The new management structure is due to report back in the autumn, which means everyone will have an idea of whether things are improving, a matter of months before the assembly election.

In this regard, the fortunes of the Welsh government will be inextricably linked to the fortunes of Betsi Cadwaladr and ministers will be in no doubt of its importance, particularly for Labour candidates in north Wales.


Ministers will be hoping that when it comes to the autumn they will have a story of stabilised services to put to the public.

The danger for them is whether that message gets through and rises above the initial perception many will have about failures in Betsi Cadwaladr.

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