In a BBC Wales Week In Week Out programme on 12 February the Health Minister, Lesley Griffiths, said:
“When I go into hospitals I don’t’ think I have ever come across a patient who has criticised”.
In the same programme the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales revealed that complaints about the NHS in Wales have increased by 255% since 2006. He went on to say that about 50% of the complaints are upheld. Since last year the Ombudsman has dealt with nearly 700 cases.
The evidence is there for the Minister to see. In addition to the report of the Ombudsman, there are reports from the Older People Commissioner for Wales, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales and local health boards which document many of examples of poor care. We receive around two examples of poor care in Wales each week. Other organisations that we have good links with, such as Cure the NHS, Age Concern organisations and Age Cymru receive similar stories.
In addition to this we have heard that a Cure the NHS group has recently been established in Glan Clwyd.
At best the minister’s comment demonstrates that patients do not tell the powers that be what they really think, and that patient satisfaction reports should be treated with caution. At worst, the minister might be in denial about the reality of what is happening in NHS Wales (which we believe to be neither better nor worse than the rest of the UK). If so, what hope is there for the step change in culture that is required to improve compassion and caring for patients and their relatives? And what about the support that staff at the front-line need, when budgets are being squeezed and demand is rising?
The Minister went to say ”Of course I understand people’s concerns”. We’re sorry to have to conclude, because she seems genuine, but the Minister does not give us the impression that she understands the concerns of patients and relatives.
We have also been led to believe that some Assembly Members, senior officials in NHS Wales and non - executive board members of Health Boards are of the view that it is unlikely that failings similar to Mid Staffordshire could happen in Wales.
We’re proud of the NHS in Wales, and we know that a lot of excellent care is provided by committed staff, who give a lot more than they get paid for. But if the Minister (and board members) do not accept that there are problems in some areas, how will they ever be addressed?
Mid Staffordshire Public Inquiry Report
There has been significant coverage of the report http://www.midstaffspublicinquiry.com/ into the Public Inquiry into Mid Staffordshire since it was published on 6 February. Much of this can be viewed in the news section http://dignifiedrevolution.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=cate... of our website.
Welsh Government response to the Mid Staffs Inquiry
Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Health and Social Services has issued a written statement on behalf of the Welsh Government