Aneurin Bevan would be “turning in his grave” if he knew of the trials and tribulations of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, according to North Wales MS, Llyr Gruffydd.
Mr Gruffydd has spoken out amid celebrations of the NHS’s 75th anniversary, which he says have been “overshadowed” by the ongoing crisis. He has accused the Welsh Government of trying to “dodge responsibility” for the problems at the health board, adding that it was an “insult to the memory” of Tredegar-born politician Bevan, who created the NHS in 1948.
He says that this is part of a “wider systemic failing” that has “happened under the watch” of Welsh Labour ministers, and has warned that there will be no NHS in Wales by the time of its centenary without “urgent and drastic action”.
Plaid Cymru's plan to tackle the NHS crisis in Wales includes looking at waiting times, investing in social care, and implementing a workforce plan to recruit and retain more doctors and nurses.
He also called for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) to be broken up to make it manageable and drastically improve its culture.
BCUHB which is the largest public sector organisation in Wales, covering just under a quarter of the population, has been beset by scandal and has been the subject of a series of damning reports for nearly a decade. It has a budget of £1.9bn and employs 19,000 people.
In the past eight years it has ploughed through eight different chief executives.
In 2015 it was put into special measures by the then health minister Mark Drakeford, after “institutional abuse” of patients in the Tawel Fan mental health unit.
In late 2020, just months before the Senedd election, the Welsh Government took the decision to take the health board out of special measures in a move that was widely criticised at the time.
The then health minister, Vaughan Gething went on to claim that the decision was down to advice from the Auditor General for Wales, Adrian Crompton. Mr Crompton refuted the claim.
The health board was put back into special measures in February of this year following a damning Audit Wale report which found that the senior executive team was dysfunctional.
The independent board was forced to resign by the Health Minister Eluned Morgan, only for one of the newly appointed members, Lesley Singleton, to also resign just a week later.
Mr Gruffydd said: “It is right that we celebrate that 75years ago, the NHS was born in Wales. This led the way in providing healthcare to all free at the point of need.
“Plaid Cymru is immensely proud of our NHS and the dedicated frontline staff who have provided invaluable healthcare services for the past 75 years.
“Unfortunately 13 years of cruel Tory cuts and 24 years of Labour mismanagement and ineptitude has left the service on life-support. The catastrophic mess at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is a prime example of this failure.
“The result is that the long-suffering people of north Wales are not getting the health care they need or deserve.
“By putting Betsi in special measures, Welsh Government effectively runs the health board, yet ministers have repeatedly sought to evade being held accountable for the mess that they are ultimately responsible for.
“We have a health minister in Wales who has been openly trying to dodge responsibility by claiming that it’s ‘not her job’ to ‘have a grasp of things’.
“This is an insult to the memory of Aneurin Bevan, as well as to the hardworking frontline staff who aren’t being given the support or the resources they need, and to patients who aren’t receiving the care they deserve.
“If he knew what was happening at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, then he would surely be turning in his grave.
“So far the Welsh Government has stubbornly refused to face up to the reality that the health board is far too big and unwieldly to provide adequate health care to patients in North Wales.
“The dogmatic way that Labour ministers have gone about centralising health services in the area clearly hasn’t worked.
“It has been an unmitigated disaster, and the Welsh Government should do what it should have done a long time ago and admit that the health board needs to be broken up so that we can genuinely have a fresh start.
“Unfortunately, the problems in the NHS aren’t limited to North Wales. This is part of a wider systemic failing that has taken place under the watch of Welsh Government ministers.
“Waiting times are at record levels across the country, while staff and patients are at breaking point. It’s becoming more and more clear that the NHS won’t survive to celebrate its centenary without urgent and drastic action.
“Plaid Cymru has a vision for a better NHS. We would make providing a fair pay deal for NHS workers a priority and implement a workforce plan to recruit and retain more doctors and nurses.
“We would put preventative health measures at the top of our agenda and ensure a seamless move from health to social care to tackle waiting times.
“We would put an end to chronic mismanagement in order to restore trust between patients and our NHS.
“Together, we can rebuild our NHS, creating fairer, stronger and better health and social care system in Wales that is free at the point of need to all who need it – from the cradle to the grave.