Unhealthy future

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Drakeford checks his notes before applying to take over as Labour leader in Wales
A mental health unit was shut after a scandal

Politics is a funny business.

A leading contender to take over as First Minister of Wales is the senior politician Mark Drakeford, yet on his watch as health minister the largest Welsh health authority was placed in special measures after a huge scandal exploded at a mental health unit in a North Wales hospital, The Eye revealed that a police investigation was underway following allegations of the way patients were treated at a Mid Wales hospital, and health workers were suspended following the death of a pensioner.

It appears, though, that these scandals have not impaired his ability to climb the greasy pole.

Mark Drakeford is proud of his record on health care

He is now ‘talking to his family’ before deciding whether to stand in the contest to take over from Carwyn Jones as Welsh Labour leader and first minister.

As one political reporter tweeted, linking to Professor Drakeford’s account:  “And we’re off.”

Tawel Fan was closed in December 2013 after shocking revelations were uncovered by The Daiy Mail and mentally ill patients were filmed crawling across floors.

Patients at Tawel Fan were ‘treated like animals’

A report into the scandal in 2015 said there was ‘institutional abuse’ and Tawel Fan is now likely to be demolished.

The chief executive of the health board, Trevor Purt, was first suspended then left his post.

In the same year, families had said their loved ones were treated like animals in a zoo and 10 members of staff were reported to their professional bodies.

Professor Drakeford, now the Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Finance, apologised and said there would be an “urgent meeting”.

Brecon war memorial hospital – police investigation

Yet it would appear that questions about the treatment of patients in the Welsh NHS have long dogged Professor Drakeford’s time as health minister in Wales, although this has not hindered him being touted as the next person who may now become Welsh first minister.

The Eye were given exclusive details by whistleblowers who had worked at Brecon War Memorial Hospital of how an elderly stroke victim was allegedly slapped in bed by a carer, and visiting families were forced to bring in food to keep their starving relatives alive.

We have also been told that falsification of notes at the hospital was “routine practice”.

Whistleblowers exposed the truth

One whistleblower said:  “The night culture at Brecon hospital is amateur at best, dangerous at worst.

(Staff were) drunk on duty, nurses (were) put to bed as they were drunk, then woken up before days-staff turned up.

“A convicted sex-offender was working as a care assistant.”

Ysbyty Cwm Cynon – another crisis

A police investigation followed which lasted several months.

The disturbing news of the events at the Brecon hospital came hard on the heels of earlier scandals, also on Mr Drakeford’s watch as Welsh health minister.

At Ysbyty Cwm Cynon in Mountain Ash, 10 hospital workers were suspended after the death of an elderly woman who was found with “unexplained and serious injuries” on the ward.

Lillian Williams died after ‘treatment’

Meanwhile nurses at a hospital in Bridgend were investigated by police for allegedly drugging elderly and difficult patients to enjoy a quiet night shift.

One nurse blew the whistle on what was happening before the death of an 82 year old woman, Lillian Willams, at the town’s Princess of Wales hospital.

She had one of her legs amputated but died in 2013 after a catalogue of neglect at the hospital, which is part of the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University (ABMU) health board.

They should have ensured ‘patient safety’

In total two deaths at the Princess of Wales hospital, occurred after a review recommended changes in practices which should have ensured “patient safety”.

Following the first death, ABMU said they had found “aspects of the patient’s care that were not up to standard” and an immediate action plan was designed “with an emphasis on communication, further staff training, record-keeping, recognising early signs of a patient’s condition deteriorating and escalating this appropriately in line with health board policy”.

It seems others in the Welsh media have shied away from these rather unfortunate facts about Professor Drakeford.

But not The Eye. 

The possible top man here has an interesting record

The patient’s family in one of the Princess of Wales cases was offered “sincere condolences” and officials were “sorry they (the family) have needed to contact us with concerns”.

Perhaps voters should also have concerns if the man in overall charge of this could be the next First Minister of Wales.

Tomorrow why traditional reporting methods are back in fashion. 

 

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The Eye
The Eye is edited by Phil Parry. Phil is a former BBC news and current affairs reporter. He is winner of the BT Wales award for journalist of the year, BT Wales TV reporter of the year and radio reporter of the year. His programmes have won in the current affairs category of the Royal Television Society and BAFTA Cymru. Phil has presented Panorama programmes, Newsnight films and BBC 2’s Public Eye. For 10 years he was the face of BBC Wales TV current affairs programme Week in, Week Out. He was a reporter on the evening TV news programme ‘Wales Today‘ and has presented numerous daily radio programmes. Phil has also worked on local and UK newspapers. If you have a story you wish us to investigate then get in touch. We treat your disclosures in total confidence and with the journalistic integrity you would expect from our professional team.

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