WALES’ health minister said she will talk to Betsi Cadwaladr bosses so “they understand what’s expected of them” to improve mental health services.
Speaking at Welsh Government’s weekly briefing on Monday newly promoted Eluned Morgan said there were “many outstanding problems relating to mental health issues” when the board was taken out of Special Measures last November.
She promised to “keep an eye” on the service, as would her new deputy minister for health and wellbeing Lynn Neagle MS.
At Betsi’s health board meeting last week members were told the Together 4 Mental Health strategy had to go back to the drawing board after four years because an auditors’ governance review gave it “limited assurance”.
Even deputy chair Lucy Reid admitted the policy needed “drastic review”, despite it being launched four years ago.
The health board has struggled to recruit a lead for psychological services and is in the process of devising a new application pack to entice someone permanent into the role.
Speaking at the briefing Ms Morgan accepted not everything was rosy with mental health provision in North Wales when previous minister Vaughan Gething announced the board was going into targeted intervention last year.
She said: “There were still many outstanding problems relating to mental health issues in Betsi Cadwaladr.
“Targeted intervention means we’re still monitoring things very closely from a Welsh Government point of view.
“Of course I want to be as open and transparent as I can be and I need to have an early discussion with the chief executive of the health board so they can understand what our expectations are in terms of improving the service in North Wales.
“The service has obviously been under a huge amount of strain but there has been a long time now where we have been in a very difficult situation, especially when it comes to mental health support in North Wales. I will continue to keep an eye on that.”
Betsi Cadwaladr was put into Special Measure, the highest form of Government intervention, in June 2015.
A report into failings on the Tawel Fan dementia ward, which claimed there had been institutional abuse, was the catalyst.
It meant it had to justify what it did to Welsh Government and form a robust plan to reform among other things mental health, its governance, how it interacted with the public and how it managed its finances.
Even senior health professionals said they were surprised when former health minister Vaughan Gething announced he was de-escalating the board to “targeted intervention” six months before the Senedd elections.