Wales

Cwm Taf maternity: Council leader calls for new health board boss

Allison Williams and Prof Marcus Longley were questioned by AMs
Image caption Cwm Taf's chief executive Allison Williams and chairman Prof Marcus Longley have been questioned by AMs about the failings

The head of a health board at the centre of failings in maternity care has faced calls to consider her future.

It follows a damning verdict on care at two hospitals in the south Wales valleys by an independent review.

Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board accepted the review's findings in April that services were "under extreme pressure" and "dysfunctional".

But the leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf council said he lost confidence in the health board months before this.

Councillor Andrew Morgan has now called for a change of management with chief executive Allison Williams being urged to look at her own position.

"I believe there's been inconsistent messages given to myself over a period of time in various meetings with senior management," he told BBC Radio Wales' Breakfast with Claire Summers.

"It's still unclear who knew what and when but I still don't think the full picture has been revealed by the health board and for that reason I don't have confidence in the health board."

Mr Morgan added: "If things are to move on, if things are to progress, and for patients and staff to have confidence that things will change, then I'm sorry to say I think there does have to be a change of management."

Last month, Health Minister Vaughan Gething put Cwm Taf maternity services into special measures after the review and an independent panel will oversee changes at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant and Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil.

Since March, the more complex maternity cases - overseen by consultants - have all gone to Merthyr. Facilities here include a special-care baby unit.

The review by two royal colleges heard that mothers who came forward with concerns saying they were ignored or made to feel worthless.

AMs have since questioned health board chiefs - including Ms Williams and chairman Prof Marcus Longley - who admitted the experiences of families "came as a complete shock".

But Mr Morgan said he wrote to the health board on 31 January "raising a number of concerns", outlining his lack of confidence in the health board.

Image caption Councillor Andrew Morgan said he wrote to the health board with concerns in January

He said: "My concerns have been compounded by the seemingly ill-thought out and shambolic delivery of the implementation of bringing maternity services together on one key site in Prince Charles Hospital, where a plethora of issues have become apparent - including patient overcrowding and the intense pressure on staff."

In the letter, Mr Morgan said he had spoken to a number of the families affected by the failings and found each of the cases "extremely distressing".

"The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has highlighted the "fundamental and worrying lack of leadership and action at the highest levels in the health board" and, regrettably, I concur with this assessment and therefore call on the chief executive to consider her position and for the board to consider its options to address these serious concerns at the earliest possible opportunity," he added.

A fresh independent panel will oversee improvements led by Mick Giannasi, who was appointed by the health minister.

Image caption Jessica Western says she was not listened to at different points before and after the birth of daughter Macie, who died after 19 days

The panel could look at cases of poor care, some involving baby deaths, going back 10 years.

Mr Giannasi said he would recommend leadership changes if needed.

A spokesman for the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board said: "The health board has apologised unreservedly for the distress caused to families affected by poor care in our maternity services. We accept all of the findings of the recent Royal Colleges' report and we are absolutely committed to putting right the very serious concerns identified by the review team.

"Every issue raised is being treated with the utmost seriousness and work is already underway to improve the services we provide to women and their babies."

He said the additional support included help with leadership and governance.

"We are determined to put this right, and to provide all our partners and our patients with the necessary assurance that the report's recommendations are being implemented in full," he added.

The Welsh Government has been asked to comment.

Pregnant woman and nurse
PA
Maternity incidents under review

2016-September 2018

  • 43under review

  • 25serious incidents

  • 8still births among those serious incidents

  • 4neonatal deaths among serious incidents

  • 17reviews - not serious or care appropriate

  • 1review incomplete - case notes missing

Source: Cwm Taf Health Board, March 2019

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