Wales politics

Views to be sought on north Wales health services' future

Betsi Cadwaladr sign

Members of the public in north Wales are to be asked their views on the future of their region's health service this autumn.

The Welsh Government said it wants to understand what its focus should be for improvements.

But whether restructuring of Betsi Cadwaladr health board features would depend on what the public says.

A government spokesman disputed Welsh Tory criticism over whether a deadline to start the exercise had been missed.

The health board, which serves north Wales, was put into special measures in 2015 after a report found "institutional abuse" at a mental health unit.

Image caption Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor is one of the hospitals run by the Betsi Cadwaladr board

A spokesman for the Welsh Government said: "One of the key objectives is to engage with staff, patients and communities to understand what matters most to them and what the focus should be to deliver improved outcomes in health services.

"The first phase involves discussions with partners and regional stakeholders and this work commenced in August. The second phase will take place in the autumn and will involve digital and community engagement with the public."

He said it would "depend on the views and responses provided if restructuring features".

First Minister Carwyn Jones had hinted the health board could be broken up after the 2016 assembly election.

But the Welsh Labour assembly manifesto vowed "no top-down, large-scale reorganisation" of the NHS under the next Welsh Labour Government - the same document said it would review the board's "governance structure if necessary".

'Positive progress'

Welsh Labour promised in its manifesto before May's assembly poll that it would hold "discussions with people in north Wales about the future of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board" in "the first 100 days of the new assembly term".

Aberconwy Tory AM, Janet Finch-Saunders, said it was "a deadline the Welsh Labour Government really ought to have met".

"One would have hoped that engaging with the public would have been an immediate priority for the government which led the health board into special measures in the first place," she said.

A Welsh Government spokesman said in response: "These comments undermine the positive progress made by the board in delivering improvements since they were put in special measures."

He said: "Contrary to comments from the Conservatives, that process has already begun and a second phase will take place in the autumn that will involve engagement with the public as we want to know what, in their health service, matters to them the most."

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