The Labour First Minister Mark Drakeford has defended damning figures released today which show that 53% of all incidents resulting in death reported by health boards in Wales came from the troubled Betsi Cadwaladr health board.
The First Minister was being challenged by Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price during FMQs today.
Mr Price said that there had been “an alarming rate” of patient safety incidents in the Betsi Cadwaladr health board and that between December 2018 and November 2019 there were 40 incidents resulting in death registered within Betsi.
Between November 2017 and November 2019 there were 520 incidents within Betsi that resulted in death or serious harm – higher than all the other health boards combined.
Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price said this was “disproportionately high” given that the health board covers roughly around 20% of the population of Wales and asked the First Minister if this was a case of “an underlying problem within Betsi” or “severe under reporting elsewhere in Wales”.
The First Minister replied that the figures were a sign that people “were not afraid to speak up”.
Adam Price said the First Minister’s response suggested that under reporting of serious incidents could be a “general problem in other health boards in Wales” apart from Betsi.
Speaking in the Senedd chamber today during FMQs, Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price said,
“Betsi Cadwaladr, now in its fifth year of special measures has an alarming rate of patient safety incidents. Between November 2017 and November 2019 there were 520 incidents within Betsi that resulted in death or serious harm – that total is higher than all the other health boards in Wales combined.
“There is either an underlying problem within Betsi or there is severe under reporting elsewhere in Wales. Which is it?
Defending the figures, the First Minister said that “reporting incidents and learning from them” has become part of the culture of a health board that they “want to see everywhere in Wales” saying,
“We say we want a learning culture and a culture where people are not afraid to speak up and have things recorded and when that happens we have questions that say, ‘Oh, everything must be awful. Look at the incidents reported. We can’t have it both ways.’.”
Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price continued,
“Between December 2018 and December 2019 there were 41 incidents resulting in death registered within Betsi. That’s 53% of all such deaths reported by Welsh health boards – this is disproportionately high when you consider that the health board covers about 20% of the population of in Wales.
“If I’ve understood the First Minister correctly […] he seems to be of the view that there is under reporting of serious incidents in the rest of Wales? And presumably there are deaths as a result of under-reported incidents through health boards in the rest of Wales?
“Is the First Minister saying now that the key failing, the lack of reporting of serious incidents that was at the heart of the problem at Cwm Taf is actually a general problem in other health boards in Wales apart from Betsi?”
The First Minister said he “said no such thing”.