North Wales health board to be chaired by police chief

Image caption,
Mark Polin has been North Wales' chief constable for almost nine years

The chief constable of North Wales Police is to be the new chairman of the region's troubled health board.

Mark Polin will retire from the force in late July, taking up his new post at the Betsi Cadwaladr board in September.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said Mr Polin had a "wealth of public sector leadership and governance experience".

The minister confirmed the appointment as he apologised for treatment failings on the Tawel Fan mental health ward at Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan.

Betsi Cadwaladr was placed in special measures in 2015 after an initial inquiry into poor care on the Tawel Fan ward found the treatment of dementia patients amounted to "institutional abuse".

A subsequent inquiry, which reported last week, dismissed that conclusion saying that despite some failings many patients received a "good standard of care".

Mr Gething responded by saying the board should increase the "pace of improvement", and on Tuesday announced plans to set out milestones for progress over the next 18 months,.

Saying the "key" was "strong leadership", he announced Mr Polin's appointment as chairman "to lead the health board through this next critical phase of its improvement journey".

"He will bring a wealth of public sector leadership, governance experience, commitment to and knowledge of the communities of north Wales from his role as chief constable of North Wales Police," Mr Gething added.

Mr Polin said he was "delighted" to be appointed, saying he would work "to improve health and wellbeing across north Wales and develop a clear path by which to steer the board out of special measures".

"I am confident that through clear direction, leadership, joint endeavour and good governance - coupled with the continuing support and scrutiny of Welsh Government - the necessary improvements can be achieved," he added.

Mr Polin replaces Dr Peter Higson, who was appointed in 2013 after an earlier damning report into management failings at Betsi Cadwaladr.

Meanwhile Plaid Cymru has launched fresh criticism of the latest Tawel Fan report, with AM Llyr Gruffydd saying its authors "just didn't like" the families of the patients concerned.