30/06/2013 The Wales Report


Tim Rogers takes a look at issues that matter in Wales and David Williams investigates the reality of living in modern Wales.

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crisis in confidence in Wales' largest health board after a damning


report identifies substantial failings. A change in the law aimed


at giving whistleblowers increased protection but could more be done


for welsh workers who expose wrongdoing? And calls for tougher


laws when it comes to protecting the environment in Wales. Stay with us


for the Wales Report. Good evening and welcome to the Wales Report. And


it's been quite a week in Welsh politics. There have been


resignations, reshuffles, new partnerships AND a by-election date


announced. More on all of that later in the programme. But first, let's


turn our attention to the health service in Wales, and to a damning


report into Wales' largest health board. The chair and chief executive


of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health board have both stepped down


following a shocking report - that found significant management


failings - which it said could have meeting, not a public meeting, but


by any standards it was an extraordinary affair. More than 100


people packed into a highly charged atmosphere, but it was not long


before individuals were expressing their disquiet. There were pleas for


the protesters to stay silent or leave the meeting. One group 's


patience snapped when they were told that Flint hospital was to close.


Angry and frustrated, they spilled out into the corridors, still


protesting and questioning the validity of the boards consultation


exercise. Arguably, the writing was on the wall for the health board


when, earlier this year, they met to finalise their controversial plans


for reorganisation, based in part on a consultation exercise of their own


making. Nobody believed them that they had been listening. Many people


thought the plans were preordained and the consultation exercise was


just a convenient smokescreen. When I spoke to the then chief executive


of the health board, she and her staff seemed taken aback by my


questions about the cost of that consultation exercise. How much did


your consultation exercise cost? I stop you there? Where working it


through right now. I can't answer that. That's an unfair question. It


is very specific. Gosh, OK! I thought, having gone through a


consultation exercise, you might have some idea of the cost of it. We


spent probably around �30,000, but I can't guarantee that it will be


more. Let's try another one, then. The outgoing chief executive in an


interview with me earlier this year. Until now, until the


appearance of this report, many health professionals and patients


have felt their voices have gone unheard. Not any more, and for the


first time, those at the sharp end can France -- Khan expressed their


frustration is that at last, something is being done. This doctor


is a consultant gynaecologist. He's also the chair of the BMA's Welsh


council and gave me his reaction to highly critical report on his


employers's failures. What is your overall reaction to what has been


widely recognised as a highly critical report? We're not surprised


at will by this. It's an issue we have been trying to raise with


senior managers for some time. does it reflect and manifest itself


here, in hospitals like this? have staff, trying their very best,


under very difficult circumstances, to provide high-quality care, and


not being given the facilities to practice to be highest standards


they are used to. The consequence is we start chasing targets instead of


treating patients. The difficulty we have had is we still have patients


coming through our front door needing treatment. We believe the


fundamental problem here is we are not starting with the patient and


what is needed to treat the patient. We appear to be starting with the


organisation of the health service and trying to fit patients to that


organisation. It's a very difficult environment to be working in at the


moment. It's very frustrating. You've only got to look at what has


gone on with neonatal care and the transfer of neonatal intensive care


to England, and you create a situation in which you are trying to


get clinician engagement. The clinicians say it should stay in


North Wales. You have public engagement. The public says it


should stay in North Wales. And the health board wants to put it


somewhere else. You'll have two ask the health board about that, but


fortunately, the first Minister is also asking that question and we are


very pleased to see the Royal College of paediatrics doing their


review at the moment. This report makes a number of recommendations.


Do you think it is also an opportunity for the health board in


this area to grasp the nettle and start again, as it were, and deliver


the sort of things that you would wish to see? There are huge


opportunities to replan health care in North Wales. We have an interim


medical director that we have every confidence in, we have a new


director of nursing. All the things are there to engage with the


clinical staff in a more proactive way. But that means empowering


clinical staff on the front-line in getting rid of some of the big


bureaucracy that has paralysed the health board in the past.


message, then, is clear enough. The NHS brand has been badly damaged by


this report, but it is also seen a chance to improve the service in


North Wales, is service in which doctors will be listened to and the


needs of patients put first. It may go some way to improving and


repairing some of the damage. David Williams there. Legal changes have


come into force this week that are aimed at providing greater


protection to whistleblowers. Concerns have been raised about


whether the law gives enough support to those who expose wrongdoing in


the workplace, particularly in the NHS. Brian Meechan reports.


Whistleblowers can provide invaluable information that exposes


dangerous practices and some cases can save lives. Employers say they


need to be able to rely on the confidentiality of their staff and


safeguard their reputation. The law can provide a balance between the


two. This woman was buoyed at the day centre run by Carmarthenshire


Council. In 2005 she blew the whistle on the physical and verbal


abuse of people with learning difficulties attending the centre.


I've followed the whistleblowing policy. I went through seven


reporting of news report I went to the ombudsman outside. Nobody helped


me. Staff would come in and say they had aimed to not to speak to me and


not to come into my office to talk to me. It was all psychological


abuse where you would feel they were trying to wear you down and silence


you from telling the truth. It was sort of years that I was being


targeted. She eventually complained to the public service ombudsman and


the route board concluded there were catastrophic failures in the


handling of the case. Although she was in the right she paid a heavy


price. I went off sick with work-related stress, my blood


pressure was sky-high. I doctor said was no way I go back. I decided to


resign, life was not worth living. I decided my health was more important


and I designed. Employment law specialist see that whistleblowing


is not straight forward. It can be a very long drawn-out process and


foreign or even has not got a huge amount of the Rancho means that the


fingertips, that can be very costly. The ultimate and Angela Ward that


the end of it, may not even meet a cover of the cost of went through


the process. With that going on from a financial live and perhaps a


person has lost her job as a result of going the whistle, that can put


an awful lot of stress on an individual and the family in time.


Coupled with that there are allegations that may have been


difficult and caused upset in the organisation that the employee has


left. All of that will clock into a very big fish report. The UK


government is responsible for whistleblowers because employment


law is not devolved. There have been boosts to detection which means


whistleblowers will no longer have you prove they were at Dean in good


faith when they complained. It also means they will have two sure there


are cases in the public interest. suspect the changes on track as well


not fundamentally change the way they will courts approach these


cases now. I think there is, as with many of these things, policy drive


because of some of what has happened over the past year or so, to ensure


this is brought into the spotlight and that Rangers have been made on


the back of those policy drives. What I do think it's a shame is that


we now are potentially encouraging whistleblowers who may not have


those good motivations that people expect to see in these sorts of


cases. Of whistleblowers charity is asking whether the law should go


further, whether companies should he forced to have protection policies.


Even whether cash incentives should be offered to whistleblowers as


happens in the United States. There is no where near where concern over


the protection of whistleblowers is more acute than in the health


service, where transparency can be a matter of life or death. A report


found years of abuse at Stafford Hospital and covering up of


mistakes. A Royal College of nursing survey after that report found


nurses in Wales were still worried about whistleblowing. 26% of those


asked had been discouraged about raising concerns. 60% were not


confident about being protected by the lawyer if he became


whistleblowers. -- protected by the employer. The results were quite


alarming. It showed that in many instances, over 60% of members in


Wales felt that the week have severe repercussions if they were to


whistleblowers about issues of concern. When we ask questions about


what were those issues of concern, they would talk about immensely low


staffing levels and also if they saw something untoward happening within


an environment that they felt it was not necessarily the culture within


the organisation to be able to share that information. Settlements


between an employer and former employee of an include gagging


orders which prevent further discussion of the case. There is


concern that this leads to re-silencing of the whistleblower


and the issues they have raised. Health boards have used these 35


times. The UK government has warned that gagging orders should not be


used to prevent former employees exposing wrongdoing in the public


sector in England. This woman took on her employer and one but at a


huge cost to herself. -- took on her employer and won. I do not regret it


at all, I would not change anything, I think we are all on this if to


help each other and that the end of the day I helped that person who


could not speak up for herself so I have got no regrets. Some people can


do it easier than others that it is a very lonely path to take. I have


no regrets. The real test of these legal changes will be whether the


help create the kind of environment where this woman and people like her


can expose wrongdoing without having to pay such a heavy price. I am


joined by Ian Hughes from the Welsh audit office. Part of your title is


the whistleblowing manager, what does that mean? I look at internal


arrangements if there are staff concerns. I can receive disclosures


from people who work for the public sector in Wales. There might be


people particularly in the public sector who are thinking right now


they have seen something going on in the work base and they are


concerned. They really have to bring this to public attention, they are


going to blow the whistle and top to you, what protection can you give


them? The simple answer to protection is none, we do not


actually protect anybody. This is where they'd is a lot of confusion


and potentially a weakness. The employment position of the personal


and public issue disclosure act of the legislation to protect people


means that should something and auction it happen to them by blowing


the whistle when they get sacked, the are denied training


opportunities, in they can bring a claim for detriment to the tribunal.


They play a part in the tribunal proceedings. Do you regret that?We


have no control authority over it, that is a legislation as it stands.


That puts me right off, I might see something I am concerned about but I


am really going to think you fully know, am I not? This should not be a


factor. As an employee you want to know that if you have concerned you


can act on them and eel with them. The fact it is detection at tribunal


stage should be the last thing you have to think about, you want to put


right whatever your concerns are. Other important as it that people do


come forward in the public interest? It is very important. There is no


way to go after that. The last place an employer can go is to blow the


whistle. Everything has failed by then. What sort of thing are you


looking for and with the interested in? We can receive allegations but


we are not in investigating body that would investigate on behalf of


people. The audit organisations so we would take on-board information


received but they have no right to deceive an investigation from us. We


will investigate if we think it is appropriate and with an Arab powers


but we are not obliged. government at Westminster has been


thinking of making much about protection for people but the


reality on the ground seems to be something else. If people want to


come forward and blow the whistle, see there is something seriously


wrong in my public environment and the public as to bite this, they


will be putting their jobs on the line. There should be proper


procedures in place to make sure people can come forward without


feeling recrimination. That is good practice. It should not happen.


Organisations should be making that clear. There should be proper


policies that are easy to understand. It should work well. We


hear mainly about the cases where it does not work well. Can people come


forward to you in confidence? will respect the full's


confidentiality where we can but we cannot guarantee it, if we go in and


ask questions about a particular alien sometimes the organisation can


work out who has come to us. If matters all within our audit we met


we will look into them and we will, depending on what they find,


exercise our structure tree powers. Our statutory powers mean we can


report in the public interest but we cannot discipline or prosecute. That


is the furthest we can never take it. In most circumstances it is a


very powerful mechanism. So what we are seeing is that to see effective


whistleblowing and give people the protection they need, especially


where these are genuine issues of public concern, there is still some


way to go even after this legislation to give them the


protection and support they should have. We have just had the


whistleblowing commission set-up. It has worked in some places, but there


is a long way to go until it is Now, it's been quite a week here in


the home of Welsh democracy. began with the shock resignation of


a Cabinet heavyweight, the Education Minister, Leighton Andrews,


triggering an emergency reshuffle. The Rhondda AM has recently


struggled to balance his government and constituency commitments, first


by opposing the Labour-led decision to reorganise health services, and


then for backing a campaign to save a school in his constituency which


faces closure as a result of his own policy. And when Carwyn Jones failed


to come to his aid here in the Chamber, the writing was clearly on


the wall. So was it a simple "confusion" of roles? And what lies


ahead for the man who has taken over that role, the new Education


Minister, Huw Lewis? I've been speaking to former Minister Rhodri


Morgan. It was a week in Welsh politics, but


how damage to Labour? I don't think it's necessarily damaging.


there's obviously a dispute at the heart of it, but I don't think it


would lead to the kind of factions you have seen in the Australian


Labour Party. Had you been a first Minister, would you have taken the


same action? Without actually being there and knowing what the


conversation was about the previous incident, but the hospital and the


website, I don't know. Clearly, the minister is responsible for the


policy on places, it is the local authority which then has the


responsibility to implement or interpret those guidelines and


policy. If you think the local authority has made a mistake, you're


entitled to write a letter pointing that out. Are you entitled to have a


placard, though, which makes it look as though you are undermining the


whole policy? That is where I thought red card. That would be my


interpretation. He is undoubtedly one of the big beasts of Labour


politics in Wales. Can they afford to lose him at such a crucial moment


in education? That's an egg that -- that's an academic question. There's


no he will start challenging the first Minister for the leadership.


He will look after his constituency and, as has happened on many


occasions before, he will have a very good chance of coming back into


the Cabinet. And even his political opponents would have to acknowledge


he was a man of substance, a man of great intelligence, and a man of


personality who was driving through changes, whether popular or not. And


taking on Michael Gove. Are there is a sufficient number of individuals


like that in Welsh politics today? He's found Hugh Lewis, but is that


enough strength in depth of the squad? There's never enough strength


in depth when you only have 60 people overall in the Assembly and


30 on the Labour side, and nine Cabinet positions to fill. You will


always struggle because of the small numbers. Juggling the small numbers


is a huge issue because the Assembly is so small. Big issues at the


moment. Lack of confidence, not only in education, but in the NHS. It's


not lack of confidence. It's a very difficult issue. We got to discuss


this in a grown-up way because public service reform in an era of


spending cuts, something will happen in their constituency. People will


tell ministers about that. undermines effective government,


though, if everyone is watching what is going on in their backyard, it


really suggests a kind of parochial attitude. People need to rise to the


challenge of taking on these major issues facing us as a nation in


dealing with them effectively. They are getting ever bigger because


spending cuts will continue. But I think you can find a way of allowing


ministers to represent their constituents, because that is their


first duty. Doing that while implementing public service reform


to save money and improve public services at the same time. And you


need a top minister to deal with that. He will be given his


opportunity to prove himself. We have to see, like all other


ministers, you will learn on the job. I have been impressed with his


first 48 hours on the job, but really, only time will tell. So


where does the world 's government go from here? It will recover from


the tremors of this week, and it's up to the new ministers, taking on


their portfolios now, to work up as quickly as possible so they can


stick -- so they can step up to the big shoes and get on with the job.


It's up to, assuming Labour does well, to think seriously about where


to accommodate Leighton. Are we doing enough to protect the


great outdoors? Public Bodies in Wales COULD have to


consider the impact their decisions have on the environment under plans


by the Welsh Government. The proposed Sustainable Development


Bill would make the public sector in Wales change the way it works in


order to improve the effects its policies have on the environment and


We only have one planet. Some of the resources on that planet are


limited. We have got a growing population as well, so growing


demand for those resources. Lots more competition, and if were not


careful, we will find ourselves outcompeted and some of the things


we depend on now. The consequences of global competition are being felt


on our high streets. You can see that in rising prices, when we have


a crisis of overproduction of wheat, and in some countries, there were


riots over the price of bread. We have to put sustainable development


at the heart of what we do in order to be able to cope with the kind of


shocks the global system will throw at us. I guess, in Wales, we have


had ten years of government taking small steps towards sustainable


development. There's some really good examples of things, like here,


we have got new homes built to much higher energy efficiency standards,


so bills are lower the people, they can live in a nice house that


doesn't cost them as much, and that is helping to tackle climate change.


The trouble is there are lots of small examples. There isn't the


scale of change necessary to meet the demands of the future, so what


we really need is a sustainable development bill that will enable


this to become the norm. The Welsh Government needs to strengthen its


proposals for the bill. It must define what it means by sustainable


development in the bill so that everybody is clear, and we don't


saddle future generations with the consequences of our unsustainable


choices. That's it for this week's programme.


We'll be back next week where we'll be talking to the First Minister. If


you have any questions for Carwyn Jones or comments on the issues


Tim Rogers asks the questions that matter to you about your job, your health, your future. Confronting decision makers with the consequences of their choices and each week David Williams will be investigating the reality of living in modern Wales.

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