SWANSEA Bay University Health Board responded well to the Covid pandemic but some improvements are needed, according to inspectors.
Health Inspectorate Wales (HIW) staff carried out a number of visits to hospitals, mental health units, and a GP practice during 2020-21.
Scott Howe, HIW senior escalation and enforcement manager, took board members through his report at a meeting on July 29.
Good practice included the way hospital patients were screened and tested for Covid, and the way visiting arrangements were made in line with the latest guidelines, for example for end-of-life patients or those with dementia.
In mental health units, said Mr Howe, detailed infection prevention and control audits had taken place and additional activities were laid on to keep patients occupied. Some tablets were provided to help patients maintain contact with family and friends.
But staffing shortages contributed to patient falls in a hospital ward, while assurances were sought by HIW about the process of completing pressure sore risk assessments.
In mental health settings, ligature assessments had been carried out but work to remedy shortcomings faced a backlog. There were other, unspecified environmental issues which also needed addressing.
The GP surgery inspection found that a dedicated room to isolate patients had been set up, and that home visits continued during the pandemic. But there was no written procedure or risk assessment for home visits in place.
Christine Williams, the health board’s interim director of nursing and patient experience, said: “It has been a very challenging last 12 months.”
The inspections, she said, had gone very well in the main.
“There have been areas for improvement, but we continue to work through these areas,” she said.
Asked by health board chief executive Mark Hackett what was being done about the fall and ligature risks, Ms Williams said there had been a fall issue in the first quarter of this year when almost 60% of the workforce was off during the peak of the second coronavirus wave.
She said falls were one of the health board’s key quality priorities and that improvements had been made in recent weeks.
She also said there were clear timescales to implement the findings of ligature risk assessments and that some improvements had already been made.
Mr Howe said health boards across Wales delivered an overall good standard of care in 2020-21, with staff demonstrating tireless commitment and flexibility.
HIW dealt with 439 matters of concerns in Wales, 36 ofwhich were classified as needing urgent action.
The body’s interim chief executive, Alun Jones, said quite a few of these reports were about the way dental practices were operating under the restrictions in place at the time.