A North Wales Assembly Member has said he is concerned over the policies of a health board after they spent hundreds of thousands on a set of new offices for senior members.
Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Llyr Gruffydd, the Shadow Minister for Sustainable Communities, Energy and Food, said Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s decision to use £338,000 on brand new office buildings in the St Asaph Business Park for 57 senior staff members shows a serious ‘lack of perspective’.
Within the assigned funds, apparently £60,000 is earmarked for adapting existing air conditioning in the building and a further £1,138 for two 50-inch TV screens to display live patient statistics and digital signatures.
Mr Gruffydd has said that the new offices are less than three miles from Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, yet senior managers are being relocated from the hospital to private offices to ‘improve collaborative working and communication between directors’.
He said, ‘I’m sure frontline staff would rather see their bosses in hospitals and able to see for themselves the strain and stresses they’re under’.
‘Spending all this additional money on offices for top directors — when the health board is facing a £30 million deficit this year and claims it can’t afford to spend money on doctors and nurses to keep some services going — sums up the lack of perspective that has developed at the highest level of management.’
A spokesperson for the Health Board said in defence: ‘Following the report by the HIW/WAO (Health Inspectorate Wales and Wales Audit Office), the Board was heavily criticised regarding the lack of cohesion in the way the Executive Directors work together’.
‘The report recommended that urgent work was required to improve the effectiveness of the board and that executive and geographical site management must be ensured.’
‘Following an extensive search, and in response to this report, the board has brought together the wider corporate team onto one accessible site in St Asaph.’
‘This will ensure that Executive members can work more effectively together, spend less time travelling from one location to another and save money on travel costs. The offices vacated by the Executive team have been allocated to hospital staff.’
This comes just over a month after the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board lost its chief, Prof Trevor Purt, over the allegations of abuse and neglect of patients at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd’s Tawel Fan ward. Speaking of the incident, Health Minister Mark Drakeford said there were ‘serious and outstanding concerns’ about its leadership, governance, and progress.
The BCUHB provides a ‘full range of primary, community, mental health, and acute hospital services’ for a population of around 676,000 people across the six counties of North Wales (Angelsey, Gwynedd, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, and Wrexham) as well as some parts of mid Wales, Cheshire, and Shropshire.
Further, the BCUHB employs around 16,000 members of staff and are responsible for three district general hospitals, (Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan, and Wrexham Maelor Hospital), as well as 18 other acute and community hospitals and a network of over 90 health centres, clinics, community health team bases and mental health units.