Health annual meeting reflects on another extraordinary year

REFLECTING on yet another extraordinary year, Hywel Dda University Health Board has looked back at its achievements and challenges throughout 2022/23 during its annual general meeting.

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Held today [Thursday 28 September 2023], the AGM reviewed the organisation’s Annual Report, including its financial accounts. The report and presentations set out to staff, patients, and the public what has been achieved between 1 April 2022 and 31 March 2023, what has been challenging, and how the health board intends improve services for local people.

The main themes included how the health board is progressing against its strategic objectives, its ongoing response to COVID-19 and its performance against a number of measures including planned care, urgent and emergency care, cancer, mental health, neurodevelopment services, infection control and workforce.

Reference was made to new initiatives to support patients and improve services, progress through research and partnership opportunities, workforce developments and capital developments across the three counties. Progress on well-being objectives, Welsh language services, and the health board’s submission of its programme business case for £1.3billion investment in its long-term strategy was provided. Praise was also given to all staff, including those who have won or been shortlisted for dozens of local and national awards as well as for the health board as an employer.

The support of patients, families and local communities for the health board’s charity, Hywel Dda Health Charities, was also recognised. Examples were provided of fundraising activities which contributed to £3.99million charitable income, and of the many services and activities above and beyond core NHS expenditure which were charitable funded.

In addition to the presentation of the Annual Report and financial accounts, the Annual General Meeting also heard from members of the Apprenticeship Academy. Representatives of the health board’s apprentices shared what they have enjoyed about their time with the health board, and how they are looking forward to advancing their career within the organisation.

Maria Battle, Chair of Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “This annual event gives us an opportunity to reflect on another extraordinary year, but also to look ahead to 2023/24. While things are still very challenging for the NHS, we have a clear vision to help us recover from the impact of the pandemic, address our long-standing financial challenge, and build a health system resilient and sustainable for the future.

“We recognise too that access to a wide range of services has been constrained over the past three years, resulting in delays in treatment and care within our health board. We are deeply sorry if you have experienced delays in access to your care and treatment. While we have made significant progress in reducing the number of patients who are waiting for treatment, we are aware that it remains difficult for people who are still waiting, or have their treatment further delayed. We are committed to further reducing our waiting lists to pre-pandemic levels and meeting the Welsh Government target.

“The highly focused response to the pandemic has left a financial legacy too. We could not identify and deliver savings and efficiencies in the way we would normally, and as a result we faced significant financial challenges as funding for the COVID-19 response tailed off, leaving us needing to make up for two years of lost time.

“The resolve of our staff continues to astound us, with colleagues committed to delivering the best possible patient care in difficult circumstances.

“Being the last AGM I will chair before my retirement from the health board in October, I want to take this opportunity to sincerely thank everyone working in and with Hywel Dda University Health Board, whatever your role. Thank you also to all our volunteers, and our partners, for your extraordinary service caring for patients and our communities during these challenging times.”

The Annual Report details areas where the health board’s performance needs to improve, along with mitigations and actions being taken, in areas such as waiting times for planned care, outpatient, mental health, neurodevelopment services, and infection control. Performance in these and other areas have been negatively impacted by issues with patient flow, patient acuity, demand and capacity, and staff shortages.

Quality improvement continues to be a key focus across the organisation to ensure the safest and best care for our patients and community, and part of this work involves listening to and acting on the feedback received from those who use our services.

Through close working with its partners on a shared vision for our communities to live healthy, joyful lives, the health board continues to engage with local people on topics such as its health and care strategy and the land appraisal process for a proposed new hospital, the future of children and young people’s services, as well as changes to some local GP practices.

The health Board has also worked in partnership to support vulnerable groups, care homes, social care and safe discharge, developed new opportunities with local universities and continues as an active member of the Dyfed-Powys Local Resilience Forum.

Copies of the meeting agenda, papers and annual reports are available here. A recording of the AGM will also be available soon (opens in new tab)

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