Inspection reveals some progress for Betsi Cadwaladr Vascular Services

generic image of a surgeon in an operating room

A recent report claims that NHS vascular services in north Wales are starting to advance.

In March 2022, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) classified the service as "requiring significant improvement" due to serious patient safety concerns.

A second inspection, however, revealed that while there is room for improvement, the quality of care is improving.

The Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board acknowledges that more advancements are required.

Patients with other medical conditions, such as diabetes, frequently use vascular services to diagnose and treat people for issues with the arteries, veins, or circulation.

Complex vascular services were first centralized from Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor and Wrexham Maelor Hospital to Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in April 2019, which led to the first reports of issues.

The Betsi Cadwaladr health board asked the Royal College of Surgeons England to look into complaints that patients and staff had made about the new service at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.

In two parts, in 2021 and 2022, the report found risks to patient safety in a number of areas and came to the conclusion that, in some circumstances, clinicians "were possibly working outside the limits of their competence.".

However, according to the oversight organization Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, the situation has now de-escalated to the point where there is no longer a critical need for improvement in North Wales' vascular services.

Alun Jones, chief executive officer of HIW, stated: "It is encouraging to hear that vascular services are improving in a number of areas.

"However, our review did produce eleven recommendations for further strengthening the existing arrangements.

The Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board must make sure that safeguards are put in place to ensure that the changes and procedures put in place since the RCS review are sustainable both now and in the future.

"The health board must take into account our recommendations, and it is our expectation that these will be implemented as part of a larger improvement effort. '.

Dr. Nick Lyons, executive medical director of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: "I want to reassure our patients that the Health Board acknowledges that our vascular service has not always met the standards we aspire to and, in some cases, let patients down.

"Today's report, however, shows how dedicated and diligent everyone involved has been in working to improve the service for the residents of North Wales. We appreciate the work of the team, the clients, and the stakeholders.

The minimum standard that everyone should anticipate is for a service to not need significant improvement.

"I take note of HIW's recognition of the good progress made in implementing all nine of the recommendations made in the Royal College of Surgeon's report, which was published in February 2022, and how people's outcomes and experiences have significantly improved.

"We are aware that there is still work to be done, but we are committed to working together to complete it.

"We accept the additional recommendations it makes in order to see a long-lasting and embedded improvement.

"Now begins the really challenging work.

The news only serves to motivate us to keep advancing and working to give every single vascular patient the first-rate care they deserve.

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