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Health Board’s failures in complaints handling



Apology and explanation: Only provided after the persistent efforts

Apology and explanation: Only provided after the persistent efforts

HYWEL DDA UHB has been the subject of a stinging rebuke by the Public Services Ombudsman (PSO) in relation to abject failures in its complaints handing system.

In June 2014, a concerned parent had complained to the Board concerning her son’s ophthalmic care.

The Board did not respond to the complaint.

The frustrated mum complained to the Ombudsman in January this year, asking him to investigate the Health Board’s handling of her complaint and get a response.


The Ombudsman resolved the complaint as the Board agreed to undertake a number of actions, which included an apology, financial redress, and confirmation of when a written response would be sent to the parent.

These actions were to be completed by March 15.

Two months later and almost two years since the mum’s complaint was received, the Health Board had not complied with the promises it made to the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman makes it clear in his report that he is not impressed with the Board’s lackadaisical approach.


The report issued found: ‘The apology and explanation was only provided after the persistent efforts of my officer in chasing up the letter (after the March 15 deadline).

The Ombudsman goes on to state that his officer was told conflicting information by Health Board staff when pursuing the matter and observed: ‘When it finally arrived, on March 29, two weeks beyond the agreed date, the letter bore the date of March 15. At best this was another example of tardy delay between composing a letter and actually sending it, for no obvious good reason. At worst, it was an attempt to imply, and influence me to conclude, that the Health Board had fully complied within the agreed deadline’.

Moreover, the Board had failed to provide any response to the parent’s complaint and, at the time the Ombudsman issued their report this week, had still failed to respond to her complaint.


The Ombudsman concluded: ‘The events giving rise to me issuing this report cause me serious concerns about the Health Board’s management of its complaints handling function and also, in light of the above evidence, its candour and governance. It explicitly agreed to undertake actions, as a result of which I did not conduct an investigation into its complaints handling, as I might have and could have done. It then misinformed my CO about the sending of the letter and has further misinformed both the complainant and me about when it would issue the awaited complaint response.

‘Despite my sending the Chief Executive a draft copy of this report, it is disappointing to note that I received no formal acknowledgement of it nor have I received (at the time of my arranging the final text of this report) any formal indication from him that he will implement [the further recommendations made]’.


Hywel Dda UHB Chief Executive Steve Moore issued a statement responding to the Ombudsman’s criticisms.

‘On behalf of the health board, I would like to apologise unreservedly for the way in which we handled a complaint about the care received by one of our patients, following a report by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

‘It is indefensible and should never have happened. I would like to confirm that all actions required by the Ombudsman have been under-taken, although I accept he did not receive my confirmation of this prior to writing his report, and for that I also apologise.

‘We acknowledged last year that our ability to respond in a timely way to all concerns was not fit for purpose, as we had acquired a significant backlog. This is not an excuse but an explanation of where we were.

Since then, we have invested the time and money to address this and made significant improvements to our ability to manage concerns appropriately and in a timely way. We are also strengthening the integration of formal correspondence in the health board to prevent something like this from happening again.

‘We want to ask our population to trust in us that we have made significant improvements and not to be discouraged from logging a concern as it is important to us to redress people who have not received the care they should expect and so we can learn and share valuable lessons to inform continual improvement to our services’.

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50



EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea



A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms



A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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