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AM asks, What Welsh government is going to do to improve health board

AN Assembly Member is calling on the Welsh Government to say what it is doing to improve a health board, three years after intervening in its operations.

Plaid Cymru AM Dr Dai Lloyd is due to ask Health Minister Vaughan Gething about the performance of Swansea Bay University Health Board at the Senedd today (Wed November 27).

Welsh ministers placed the health board – then called Abertawe Bro Morgannwg and covering a larger area than now – into “targeted intervention” status in September 2016.

This was due to concerns about unscheduled care, stroke and cancer care, and a failure to deliver a suitable three-year business plan.
Targeted intervention is one level below the most serious “special measures” category.

The Welsh Government said it had made it clear to the health board what improvements were required – and will address Dr Lloyd’s question head on in the debating chamber this afternoon. (Wed Nov 27)

Speaking ahead of the Senedd session, Dr Lloyd said “significant operational pressures on unscheduled care and scheduled care” remained in the Swansea Bay area.

Data for October, he said, showed that ambulances waited outside casualty departments in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot for 2,778 hours, while 4,256 patients waited more than 36 weeks for treatment – an increase of over 2,000 since April.

Dr Lloyd said: “Despite the health board being in targeted intervention since 2016, performance in many areas is getting worse, not better.”

Calling on Mr Gething to outline what he plans to do to improve matters, the South Wales West AM said an open debate on the health board was needed.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “We’ve made it clear to the health board what improvements we expect to see. “To support this, we’ve provided extra funding to reduce waiting times for scheduled care, and to support delivery of services over the winter. This will help the board to increase emergency department staff, beds and social care capacity. They’ve also agreed a plan with the ambulance service to cut handover times.”

The health board, which declined to comment, is dealing with more complex emergency admissions, has many vacant posts, and can struggle to discharge patients who need a package of care in order to return home.

To tackle the longest waits for planned procedures, it has been recruiting extra staff and outsourcing to alternative providers.

The Welsh Government spokesman added that the health board was unable to submit a three-year plan for 2019-2022 and was finalising an annual plan for 2019-20 instead.

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