Conflicts of Interest – and Some Very Big Salaries

Regular readers of this blog will by now have gained some idea of the wrongdoing, cronyism and mutual backscratching that is rife within the NHS in north Wales and other associated organisations and sectors. So at this point I will take the opportunity to introduce the following document to readers, the Betsi’s Annual Report and Accounts, 2015/16 http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/documents/861/BCUHB%20Annual%20Report%202015-161.pdf

Some of the information is now slightly out of date, due to the departure and arrival of various Board Members, but it’s worth reading this document. Take a look at pages 46-47, the Register of Director’s Interests. It is certainly illuminating.

Prof Angela Hopkins (now retired) was the Director of Nursing, Widwifery, Therapies and Health Sciences. It was on Angela’s watch that the disaster in Tawel Fan brewed and exploded – and Angela was one of those previously employed by the North West Wales Trust who failed to investigate complaints of nurses threatening me and abusing their positions. Recent blog posts of mine have described what passes for ‘therapy’ in the Betsi. And Bangor University recently withdrew midwifery students from certain placements in the Betsi due to serious problems, although the precise nature of those problems was not widely known. So Angela has not really excelled. Yet Angela was ‘Director in Wales with the Royal College of Nursing’, a ‘Member of the National Cultural Alignment Group, sponsored by the Royal College of Nursing’ and was awarded an honorary Chair at Bangor University’s School of Healthcare Sciences in 2015 (by that time, everyone knew about Tawel Fan). So this woman, who presided over gross failure and naked abuse, held influential positions within her professional body and was rewarded with a Chair – a Chair in the School of Healthcare Sciences, which was previously headed by Jo Rycroft-Malone, who now sits on the Betsi Board after previously receiving research funding from the Betsi! I used to wonder why the Betsi was picking up awards from the Royal College of Nursing despite the horrors that existed there…

Bernie Cuthel (no longer sitting on the Board, but I think she still works for the Betsi), but former ‘Interim Director of Primary, Community and Mental Health Services. So she didn’t do too well in improving those services then during her time as Interim Director. Bernie of course arrived at the Betsi amid much media coverage, due to the enormous cloud under which she seemed to have left her last position as a senior manager in the NHS in England. Allegations of bullying and mismanagement swirled around and questions had been asked in the House…So Bernie is obviously the ideal person to be a member of the ‘Governing Body of Nugent Care’, a Third Sector organisation providing services to vulnerable adults and children. Bernie has a family member working in Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.

Dr Peter Higson, OBE. Peter and his activities past and present have featured prominently on this blog – he’s the Chairman of the Betsi. But look – he’s also a Council Member at Bangor University (which seems to be dishing out funds and Chairs to people involved with the Betsi who often seem rather undeserving of these Chairs and funds). Peter’s sister is Ruth Hussey – until last spring, she was Chief Medical Officer for Wales. Ruth was recently awarded an Honorary Fellowship by Bangor University. Peter also has a finger in the Third Sector pie, he is a Trustee of Cartrefi Cymru, an organisation providing residential homes for people with learning disabilities. Not sure that his track record suggests that he’ll be much use in that role.

Prof J. Rycroft-Malone. ‘Independent Board Member and University Representative’. The only interest that Jo declares here is that her spouse is an employee of the Betsi. But read my previous post an ‘Expert On The Betsi Board!’ and it is clear that Jo and people that she directly works with clearly enjoy a very cosy relationship with the Betsi and seem to have benefited from substantial funding from the Betsi.

Mrs B. Russell-Williams. ‘Independent Board Member.’ She’s also Chief Officer of Gwynedd County Voluntary Council aka Mantell Gwynedd – which receives funding from the Health Board (I’m becoming very familiar with this arrangement). Mantell Gwynedd is infamous to those of us who are familiar with north west Wales; no-one ever worked out what it did or what is was for, there were constant allegations of nepotism and cronyism in terms of who actually landed paid positions with Mantell Gwynedd and it was widely perceived to be a Welsh language equivalent of the Abbey Road Centre/MIND in Bangor, another Third Sector organisation which seemed to be achieving very little and dishing out jobs to friends. But look – Bethan’s husband chairs Gwynedd Community Health Council. For the uninitiated, the CHC advertises itself as the ‘watchdog’ that represents patient’s interests in the region. The CHC is notorious for having kept completely silent about the state of the mental health services in north Wales. I see that on her Board Member profile, it is stated that Bethan is ‘passionate’ about the Third Sector ‘particularly about the future role of the Third Sector in the delivery of public services in Wales’. I bet she is – ‘co-production’ is now Welsh Govt policy and the gravy train clearly cometh, particularly now that Bethan is on the Betsi Board.

Mrs L. Meadows. ‘Director at Bangor University’. Lyn Meadows is well-known to me and has featured previously on this blog, in relation to her unprofessional behaviour whilst she was HR Director at Bangor University, her activities when she was on the Board of an NHS Trust in the north west of England and her ‘previous’ at the Welsh Ambulance Service. (Please read, for example, my blog post ‘The Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’.)

 

I have only highlighted the very dodgy connections and potential conflicts of interest that are obvious to me upon scanning this document. If I did a bit more research who knows what I’d dig up – readers of this blog may have spotted a lot more than I have. I do accept that people who work together often marry each other and that people with similar interests or working in similar fields get to know each other and build up networks. If these people were self-sacrificing geniuses, working for the good of the wider public in north Wales and involved in genuinely ground-breaking research and initiatives, such a network would be fantastic. However they are clearly not doing that and the evidence is an effectively bankrupt Health Board in special measures and deaths of mental health patients that are so frequent that I’ve found it worth my while keeping a tally on this blog.

Now scroll down to page 51 of the document and get some idea of what this bunch of charlatans are being paid (before expenses, allowances and other jollies that is). Gary the CEO: full year equivalent salary £200,000-205,000. Angela Hopkins was on £130,000-135,000. The dreadful Martin Jones (on a protected contract for 10 years after being recycled into the Betsi following his disasterous ‘leadership’ of the North West Wales Trust) is receiving £130,000-135,000. Grace Lewis-Parry (on a 10 year protected contract after being recycled into the Betsi following her previous lacklustre performance as CEO of the Local Health Board) nets £100,000-105,000. Higson, who can’t even answer an e mail and ‘cannot recollect’ when he has been told about the most serious abuses in the mental health services, is pulling in £65,000-70-,000 for ‘Chairing’ this catastrophe, after he retired from his failings at Health Inspectorate Wales. Even ‘Independent Members’ like Bobby Feely, Meadows and Bethan from Mantell Gwynedd are receiving £15,000-20,000.

How can this be justified in the light of the neglect and abuse in the NHS in north Wales? North Wales – and Gwynedd in particular – has swathes of people on benefit, in casual minimum wage jobs and some of the lowest incomes in the UK. Snowdonia hill farmers only manage to stay in business because of agricultural subsidies. But get your foot in the door of the NHS (or ‘Third Sector’), refuse to resign even in the face of public outrage when your failures are made public and you’ll be among the highest paid people in the region – even though the people on the receiving end of your ‘service’ will be dying.

The phrase ‘snouts in the trough’ comes to mind. Or, for a more literary reference, we can paraphrase George Orwell – ‘The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again, and from Gary to Martin to Peter to Lyn to Jo, but already it was impossible to say which was which’.