Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Community Health Council AGM

Yesterday I had the dubious honour of attending my first Annual General Meeting of the Betsi Cadwaladr Community Health Council at Llandudno Junction. Having been to the odd Full Council meetings before I was  surprised at the high attendance of voting members; with more than half of the 72 being present

Prior to moving onto the main business of the AGM the meeting was addressed by the outgoing chair, Dr Christine Evans. I was surprised by the tone of her comments, they were abrasive and dismissive of those campaigners who tried so hard to retain services in North Wales.

Another colleague said of her speech,
The outgoing Chair - Dr Christine Evans was scornful of the campaign and said patients had always been treated in England and that for the size of our population we were fortunate to have three district hospitals!  She was strident in her viewpoint and clearly was not supportive of our cause from the outset."
An inauspicious start for sure!

The next item on the agenda was the election of chair and vice chair with three candidates, the current vice chair Ms April Harper, Gordon Donaldson, chair of Flintshire and Governor of the Countess of Chester Hospital,  and thirdly,  Pearl Roberts from Conwy.

I had emailed all three candidates with questions on their views on  the sale of neonatal intensive care to the privatised English NHS and their experience of maternity services. I received one reply from April Harper who showed a good understanding of the issues which was sufficient for me to cast my vote in her favour.

I shouldn't really have been surprised by the election of Gordon Donaldson as Chair and Pearl Roberts as Vice Chair which is explained by the high number of attendees. We must wait and see whether the CHC under their leadership can regain some of the public confidence lost by the fiasco of the Health Board reconfiguration.

Next up was the Chief Executive's report where she made mention of the resignation of three members in protest at the CHC failures, where she described the resignations as not being a big deal! Personally I think it is a big deal when democratically elected Councillors resign on principle believing that the authority of which they were members have not done their job right and that there was no other option open to them but to resign.

I then asked my one and only question about the Executive of the CHC holding meetings in private and lacking openess and transparency. I was told that the Regulations allowed for Executive Board meetings to be held in private and it was a matter for the Board to decide whether to hold their meetings in private!

So there we have it the North Wales health watchdog!

From the comments expressed by some at the meeting I really don't think the CHC have learnt any lessons from the extensive criticisms that they have been subject to over the last 6 months.



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