BETSI Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) has admitted it "must do better" after a damning report found failings in its vascular services.

On Thursday (February 3), a report from the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS) was published in relation to vascular services at the North Wales health board.

The report reviewed 44 sets of case notes and found deficiencies in care, record keeping, consent-taking and follow-up in a number of the cases examined.

The report, which covers a period from before the reorganisation up to July last year, found that were cases where the entire patient record had not been provided for review.

There were no clinical records available for the review team to assess regarding six cases, and there was "cause for concern" identified by the review team in the sample of cases reviewed.

In the majority of the clinical records, some or many entries were illegible and paperwork was frequently not filed in any form of order, which made it difficult to provide a thorough assessment for each case.

In some cases there was no summary of the patient’s clinical history included in the patient’s record. The review team said it was "strongly of the opinion that the majority of the surgical notes and supporting correspondence, results and reports were disorganised, illegible and incomplete".

Minister for Health and Social Services Eluned Morgan said she is "concerned" about the report's findings.

She said: "The cases reviewed here involve real people and their families and there will be many others who may be worrying about the quality of the care they have received or are about to receive and whether this service is safe.

"I expect the health board to address these issues with immediate effect and put a plan and processes in place to contact and review patients appropriately and sensitively, to provide them with information and assurance as well as to address the other recommendations made by the RCS.

"For the sake of people in North Wales who need this service, and the staff working to provide this care, we must now do all we can to ensure the health board implements it properly, to make the pathway seamless and to improve outcomes. This is meant to be a flagship service and I am determined that it will become so."

BCUHB said it is "very concerned" at the report's findings, and has apologised to patients.

Dr Nick Lyons, executive medical director at BCUHB, said: “This report provides us with valuable feedback from expert reviewers and we have already acted in order to improve the care we provide to our patients.

“The health board asked for the review in 2020 as part of its own checks and balances on the standards of quality and care in the service and it takes the findings of this and the earlier report very seriously. We acknowledge that the service we have implemented is not always delivering the high standard our patients deserve. We would like to apologise to those who have been affected.

“Since I joined the Health Board, it has become very clear to me a significant amount of improvement work is needed to enable us to deliver the very best outcomes for our vascular patients across our North Wales network.

"I am very concerned to note the review's findings in relation to the quality and consistency of care provided - we must do better".

Mr Lyons said that he has commenced an audit of the quality of patient notes and documentation of patient consent across the health board.

“Our vascular improvement plan has been revised and strengthened in order to drive the real progress needed," he added.

“To assist with this, we are investing in training to build and improve working relationships and we are exploring the possibility of closer collaboration with the Liverpool vascular network.”