Following pressure from Plaid Cymru for the First Minister to correct misleading statements made in the Senedd about reasons for taking Betsi Cadwaladr health board out of special measures in November 2020, updates have now been made to historic transcript records in three separate places.
In what is being called a “climb down” on the part of the Labour Welsh Government, footnotes now appear next to statements made by the former Health Minister Vaughan Gething, and First Minister Mark Drakeford, where they state that the decision to take the health board out of special measures was due to “advice” received by the Auditor General for Wales amongst others.
In a statement made since by the Auditor General for Wales, he confirmed that, on the question of “whether there was advice from me or my staff to the Minister to de-escalate the Health Board from Special Measures at that time, I can be very clear, there was not.”
The footnotes link to letters written by the First Minister to the Llywydd in which he clarifies that “Audit Wales did not – and does not – advise Ministers directly on these matters.”
“Bizarrely”, says Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, Plaid Cymru’s spokesman on health and care, the First Minister and Vaughan Gething are yet to “admit the obvious” – “that they actually misled the Senedd and misrepresented what the Auditor General said.”
Mr ap Iorwerth went on to say that the climb down is “humiliating” for Mark Drakeford and Labour, and that the public would have preferred for them to “just be honest.”
Plaid Cymru spokesperson for health and care, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said:
“So Welsh Government asks for letters to be added as footnotes to the Senedd Record, which proves they misled the Senedd over taking Betsi Cadwaladr Health Boards out of special measures. But they won’t actually admit to misleading the Senedd! You couldn’t make it up.
“Our point has been proven, and it’s rather humiliating for Mark Drakeford and his Labour Government, but I’m sure that the Welsh public would have preferred Ministers to just be honest.
“Caught in the middle of this Labour mismanagement are the patients waiting record amounts of time for treatment, and our health and care workers who are demoralised, exhausted and struggling to make ends meet. This whole sorry saga adds weight to the question over Labour’s credibility in terms of running the health board – the people of the north of Wales deserve better from their government.”