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Welsh health board concerns.

A Welsh health board has been placed in special measures after a report identified “serious and outstanding concerns” as a result of activity which which may have violated the patients’ human rights.

The move follows a report that revealed that patients suffered institutional abuse at a mental health ward at a hospitals run by Betsi Cadwaladr University health board, which covers north Wales and part of mid Wales.

Minister for health and social services, Mark Drakeford, said: “This significant decision is in line with the escalation framework. It reflects serious and outstanding concerns about the leadership, governance and progress in the health board over some time.

“A thorough and balanced assessment has taken place on areas of concern that will form the basis of actions to be taken as a result of special measures.

“While the special measures apply to the health board, I want to reassure patients and communities served by the health board, and staff working for it, that day-to-day services and activities will continue as normal.”

The board was put under targeted intervention in March 2014, the highest of any of the NHS organisations in Wales. As a result of the concerns,  Mark Drakeford asked NHS Wales chief executive, Dr Andrew Goodall, to bring forward a meeting between the Welsh government, the Wales Audit Office and Health Inspectorate Wales – as part of the NHS Wales escalation framework – to review the health board’s status.

In a letter to Mark Drakeford, chairman of the health board, Dr Peter Higson, said: “I recognise the gravity of the situation and the need for swift remedial action. I will ensure that the health board and its officers will co-operate fully with the Welsh government in achieving the necessary improvements for the benefit of the patients and public in north Wales.”

Last month, the board’s chief executive, Prof Trevor Purt, said he was “extremely sorry” for the treatment of some patients at the Tawel Fan ward of Glan Clwyd hospital in Denbighshire, which he described as shocking.

The independent investigation found there were regimes and routines on the ward which may have violated the human rights of patients and there was a “lack of professional, dignified, compassionate care.”

The Welsh Conservative Party has said that patients were “treated like animals” and doctors and nursing staff were “guilty of serious breaches of professional standards.”

North Wales police and the Crown Prosecution Service have decided not to bring criminal charges in the case.