Agenda item

The North Wales Community Health Council: Improving Health Services for People in North Wales

To receive a presentation from Carol Williams, the Deputy Chief Officer, and Linda Harper, Chair of the Flintshire Local Committee.   


That the presentation be received.



The Chair welcomed and introduced Carol Williams, Deputy Chief Officer, Community Health Council, and Linda Harper, Chair Flintshire Local Committee, to the meeting.  She invited them to give a presentation on The Community Health Council (CHC): Improving health service for people in North Wales.  The main points of the presentation were:


·         North Wales CHC

·         what the CHC does

·         how the CHC works

·         Flintshire examples of CHC work

·         CHC key points


The Chair thanked the Deputy Chief Officer and Chair of Flintshire Local Committee for their presentation and invited Members to raise questions.


The Deputy Chief Officer raised awareness of the campaign for MRi scans for prostate and said a number of patients had had to fund scans themselves. She advised that the CHC had made representations and people  now had their costs reimbursed.  She added that the CHC continued to support families affected by the Tawel Fan ward.  The Deputy Chief Officer commented on the need for car parking charges at hospitals to be reasonable and the importance of keeping town centres active. Following a suggestion by the Chair of the Committee it was agreed that a letter be sent to the Assembly Members in North Wales prior to the e-petition being considered by the Welsh Government on 13 February urging Welsh Government to intervene to ensure prostate cancer scanning was not subject to a postcode lottery in Wales.

Councillor David Healey commented on the provision of mental health in Flintshire and said it was difficult to form a view.  He felt that either there was a greater awareness or there was a sharp increase in the demand for mental health services.    He asked how the provision for mental health in Flintshire compared with mental health services provided by other local authorities as mental health waiting lists for face to face services were a concern.  Councillor Healey also referred to Parabl and commented that there seemed to be doubt as to whether this organization would continue. 

The Deputy Chief Officer referred to the joint mental health team meeting which had been held between Flintshire County Council  and BCUHB and added that Parabl was a third sector organization which offered talking therapies for people with mild to moderate mental health problems.  She acknowledged there was a long waiting list for some mental health services and said this was an ongoing issue.  She added that following discussions between the Chair of the Health Board and the CHC, the Chair of the Health Board had agreed to provide more information regarding Mental Health Services within BCUHB.

The Chair of the Flintshire Local Committee referred to the special measures imposed on the Health Board and said mental health was a contributing reason.  She agreed that the description “patchy” in terms of mental health provision in Flintshire  was relevant at both primary and community level.  She reported that the Vice Chair of the Community Health Council was leading on Mental Health and anticipated that more positive news would be reported in the next 12 months.

Councillor Kevin Hughes referred to  mental health services  for young people and waiting lists for services.  He also asked what influence the CHC had to address the issue of emergency waiting times in hospitals


The Deputy Chief Officer explained that A&E departments took part in a national exercise last year and spot checks were carried out on all Emergency Departments (including North Wales).   She commented that the situation was a cause of significant concern and it could not be said that matters had been resolved.  She said that representatives of the CHC were meeting in the near future to review the situation in North Wales. The Deputy Chief Officer  suggested that in the future the CHC would be keen to work with social services and local Members to scrutinise emergency departments.


Referring to the comments by Councillor Kevin Hughes on children and young people’s mental health, the Chair of Flintshire Local Committee advised that CAMHS was the main organisation but said there didn’t seem to be enough provision to meet demand.  She said it was a situation which was an area of increasing concern and the CHC was seeking more information and clarity about how implementation worked.   In relation to mental health services generally she felt there was a need for a core strategy which put mental health within it rather that alongside it.

The Deputy Chief Officer commented on the severe delays in referrals for autism services and speech therapy services across North Wales. The Community Health Council advised that they had raised concerns regarding the delays in referring patients.


Councillor Gladys Healey commented that the CHC was the “voice of the people” and needed to be stronger.  She asked why there was a long waiting list for hip and knee operations.  She also commented on mental health services and said there needed to be more coordinated working and thinking around mental health issues and referred to the problems created by marriage breakdown, poverty etc.   She said that waiting a long time for an appointment created stress and worsened mental health issues.  

The Deputy Chief Officer acknowledged the points made and offered to attend the meeting of the Committee to be held on 18 July, to which representatives of the BCUHB and Welsh Ambulance services had been invited to attend.


Councillor Ian Smith asked if the role of the CHC was well known amongst the general public.  The Deputy Chief Officer responded that there was always further work to be done to raise awareness.   She emphasised that one of the CHCs biggest resources was volunteers and advised that the CHC had a budget of £3m to cover all expenditure across Wales.  She spoke of the CHCs dependence on volunteers and said that awareness was being raised through “word of mouth”.  She commented on the use of social media and said people seemed to find the CHC when needed.


The Chair commented that she felt that the voice of CHC was stronger than it used to be and was pleased to hear how much work was being done on behalf of residents.  The Deputy Chief Officer emphasised that the CHC worked collaboratively with BCUHB but was an independent organization.

In response to a question from Councillor Marion Bateman about  waiting times after triage at Accident and Emergency departments and whether patients were classified according to their condition whilst waiting after triage, the Deputy Chief Officer agreed to provide the information available from the results of a recent survey.


Councillor Bateman also commented on staff morale and expressed concerns for the welfare of staff.  She said that during a recent visit to a hospital staff   were working long hours and appeared to be under stress.  The Deputy Chief Officer advised that the issue of staff morale had been raised with the Chair of BCUHB and she would share the response with the Committee.  She added that he had given assurances that he would address the issue.


Councillor David Mackie commented that at a recent question and answer session the new Chief Executive had commented on the learning he could bring from his background as chief constable to inform services such as mental health going forward. 

Councillor Dave Mackie commented on the positive role played by the CHC in ensuring full maternity services remained in North Wales.  He said that from the visits he had undertaken as a member of the CHC the biggest issue was a lack of experienced and trained staff and questioned whether sufficient people were being trained.

Councillor David Healey suggested that representatives of the CHC be invited to attend the meeting of the Committee to be held on 18 July and that BCUHB be informed of the intention to also invite representatives of the CHC to the meeting.


The Chair read out a written question which had been submitted by Councillor Cindy Hinds concerning private care agencies. The Community Health Council agreed to provide a written response to Cllr Hinds.


The Chair thanked the Deputy Chief Officer and the Chair of the Flintshire Local Committee for their attendance and responses to Members questions.  The Deputy Chief Officer said the CHC would welcome the opportunity for more collaborative working in the future.




That the presentation be received.


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