Health concerns raised by MP
2:27pm Friday 23rd August 2013 in News
SERIOUS concerns about the future of colo-rectal surgery at Bronglais Hospital have been raised by Ceredigion MP Mark Williams this week after the health board took three months to reply to a Freedom of Information request from him.
He has accused the authority of creating a “pattern of non-consultation” and has written to Hywel Dda Health Board chief executive Trevor Purt to query a number of matters.
The health board denies there the “pattern of non-consultation” accusation, and adds: “The exhaustive consultation process recently concluded, evidenced that fact.”
Mr Williams’ detailed request for information was sent to the board on April 18 and he received a reply last month.
“The purpose of the request was to try and elicit further information about colo-rectal surgery at Bronglais Aberystwyth and the importance of the full retention of this service,” he said.
“Having studied the documents which have been sent to me, this week I have raised a number of serious concerns with the chief executive.”
The MP adds: “I am extremely concerned that given the ‘enduring’ temporary arrangements currently surrounding colo-rectal surgery at Bronglais, that this will emulate what happened with the full closure of Afallon Mental Health Ward, which was done by stealth. It would be completely inappropriate for the Board to follow this pattern of ‘non-consultation’ in any other areas.”
He says the FOI documents reveal that there were emails between senior health board staff showing that there were concerns about data quality in connection with how cases were coded differently at different sites.
“This could make a difference to numbers in terms of procedures which could be misleading. There was clearly confusion about this patchy information. The fact that senior staff were concerned about this at a time when the Board was out to consultation on the future of services indicates that the data used to draw up those options which were put forward to the public last year may have been seriously flawed,” added Mr Williams.
He said he was “shocked” to discover copies of emails between senior staff which suggest that waiting list dates could be changed on referrals and has asked Mr Purt to explain how that could happen.
In a statement responding to Mr Williams’ comments the health board said its consultation process has been kite marked by the “Consultation Institute” and followed Welsh Government guidance.
It adds: “The Health Board continuously reviews data to check and improve quality. During consultation different criteria was used in the decision making process including safety, impact and workforce. Data is one element of decision making and nothing material has been found to effect any decision.
“Changes to the provision of colorectal surgery were made following the resignation of a recently appointed specialist colorectal surgeon at Bronglais Hospital. These changes were needed to ensure we were able to deliver colorectal cancer surgery to patients within Ceredigion of the same quality standard as elsewhere in the UK.
“In relation to Afallon ward we have made it clear that this was closed due to the inability to recruit to safe levels of staffing and have been open about the ongoing provision of mental health services. However, this has enabled the Health Board to move to an improved and highly effective model of care.”