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New independent health watchdog needed

This is an article for the South Wales Evening Post and the Glamorgan Gazette


Welsh Liberal Democrats believe that current system for ensuring the quality and safety of healthcare services in Wales is not fit for purpose and that Healthcare Inspectorate Wales should be scrapped and replaced with a new, independent and more robust system.

We also want to:

• appoint a chief inspector for hospitals and healthcare;
• support staff and patients by introducing mechanisms for whistleblowing which would encourage a stronger culture of openness and transparency;
• reform the complaints procedure to ensure greater independence and restore the trust of patients and their families.
• introduce clinically-led and peer-reviewed inspections with significant patient input;

The latest round of shocking reports on care within our NHS reveals a complete failure of all the systems that should be in place to protect our most vulnerable people.

The current system for ensuring the quality and safety of healthcare is not fit for purpose. We need a more proactive and robust system of inspections, with a new health watchdog that is fully independent of the Welsh Government.

It is right that Betsi Cadwaladr UHB in North Wales has been put into Special Measures, but a watchdog should be able to take this decision without reference to Ministers.

Our watchdog would be led by a new chief inspector for hospitals and healthcare. He or she could carry out targeted inspections in response to quality concerns and routine inspections of all hospitals on a regular basis.

There continues to be a culture of fear, bullying and secrecy in the NHS where hard working and dedicated staff are too scared to come forward.

We need to encourage a stronger culture of openness in the whistleblowing process and reform complaints procedures to ensure greater independence.

Simple measures such as an all-Wales Whistleblowing hotline should be introduced.

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