Wales politics

Welsh NHS: Call for powers to strike off failing managers

Hospital beds Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A Plaid AM says a professional body should have the power to strike off NHS managers

A professional body able to hold Welsh NHS managers to account and strike them off for poor performance should be set up, a Plaid Cymru AM has said.

Helen Mary Jones has called for more scrutiny to prevent a repeat of the Cwm Taf maternity scandal.

A damning report earlier this year said the department was "dysfunctional" and mothers had "distressing experiences".

But Health Minister Vaughan Gething told a debate such a new body could be complex.

Ms Jones said scandals at Cwm Taf, Tawel Fan mental health ward in Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and elsewhere "exposed consistent and systematic management failures across our Welsh NHS".

Professional regulatory bodies already exist for doctors and nurses, but Ms Jones want a similar professional body for managers.

The Plaid health spokeswoman said senior staff should be registered, so they cannot fail in one local health board and get a job at another.

But unless it is taken on by ministers, Plaid's proposals are not expected to reach the statute book.

The Welsh Government has its own new law planned to place a "duty of candour" on NHS organisations, requiring them to be open and honest when things go wrong.

Image caption Plaid Cymru's Helen Mary Jones will propose new legislation in a debate on Wednesday

Plaid Cymru wants ministers to go further, putting a "legal duty of candour" on health professionals to "empower" whistle-blowers.

Jon Restell, chief executive of trade union Mangers in Partnership, said: "This kind of rhetoric damages morale and effectiveness of management and has a chilling effect on recruitment to these posts, especially clinicians."

He said he would "welcome any investment in professional standards and development for NHS managers", but any regulatory process "would need to be fully independent of the political process".

Ms Jones called for new legislation in a debate on Wednesday - with support from the Conservatives and Brexit Party.

Mr Gething did not support the idea of a new regulatory body for NHS managers, saying it "would introduce a level of cost and complexity, but of course that's always the case when introducing new measures".

One consideration, he said, would be defining "who or what a manager is to be called within the ambit of a new regulatory body".

Cwm Taf's maternity services were put into special measures after failings were uncovered at the Royal Glamorgan and Prince Charles hospitals, prompted by concerns about the deaths of a number of babies.

The Welsh Government said it wanted to "create a culture of continual learning and improvement in our NHS", adding: "We have already introduced our Quality and Engagement Bill which will increase openness and transparency across the NHS and give a stronger voice to staff and patients."

The government's bill also proposes to replace Community Health Councils with a new body - there have been concerns about a lack of detail on what will replace them.

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