This week, we heard the news that the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has been put back into special measures after several years of facing some serious challenges. The health board – the largest in Wales and responsible for the delivery of healthcare services to more than 700,000 people across Anglesey, Gwynedd, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham – was originally placed into special measures in 2015 after a series of problems and was taken out in 2020. The health minister, Eluned Morgan, has said she had ‘serious concerns about performance, leadership and culture’, so she has taken steps to replace the board with a new team.
While this is of huge concern to a great many people in Flintshire, the health board has been struggling with many challenges for a number of years and drastic action was needed to bring about the changes required to support healthcare in our part of north Wales. We’ve all read the news reports about issues at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and, when Betsi Calwaladr UHB was brought out of special measures in 2020, the health board received extra support from Welsh Government and the hope was that it would provide the impetus to bring about real change to healthcare in our communities. This has obviously not worked and I hope the new team will be in a better position to turn around the health board and provide the vital services we all rely on.
Back in 2018, the Welsh Government established the Fair Work Commission, which was tasked with identifying the best ways to encourage fair employment practices across Wales, and the commission made a number of key recommendations in 2019. Since then, the world and work as we know it has changed – the Covid pandemic has had a major impact on people’s work lives – but, despite these challenges, we have taken significant steps forward on the commission’s recommendations and this week I published a progress report for the first time.
In the past year alone, we have made significant progress in three key areas – trade unions, social partnership and the real living wage. In our work to promote trade unions we have demonstrated the value of being part of a trade union to workers, workplaces and Wales, something which was a key part of improving employee relations, and coupled with the foundations we have put in place for social partnership and fair work in sectors where there are longstanding and recognised concerns about working conditions, this goes a long way to improve the world of work for people across Wales. The adoption and accreditation of the real living wage, along with the Welsh Government’s financial commitment in the public sector, signals a real step forward for workers and helps to protect frontline services – the real living wage makes a real difference and puts more money into the pockets of workers on the lowest wages, giving them some protection from the surging cost of living.
At the weekend, I was in Belfast at the Titanic centre for the Labour Relations Agency Conference, which brings together employers, HR professionals, trade unionists and others to explore how we can create a framework to make good employment relations a key part of any organisation’s success. I delivered a talk with Shavanah Taj, General Secretary of the Wales Trade Union Congress, entitled Fair Work in Wales and we discussed how the Welsh Government is making employment relations a key part of policy and how, in Wales, we’re breaking new ground with the Social Partnership and Public Procurement (Wales) Bill, introduced by me as Deputy Minister for Social Partnership. It was a very interesting discussion and it was also great to visit such an iconic building right in the heart of the Northern Irish capital.
As always, if you would like advice and/or support, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on any of the following contact details – 52 High Street, Mold, Flintshire, on 01352 753464 or by email email@example.com You can also keep up to date via my Facebook page – www.facebook.com/hannahblythynMS. Constituents are, of course, welcome to contact my office to arrange an appointment to see me, you don’t need to wait until an advice surgery.