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Report row prompts adviser reform call

Doctors leaders have called for reform of the WMC (Welsh Medical Committee) to advise local health boards better.

BMA Welsh council chair Phil Banfield spoke out following a political row about Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and a NCF (National Clinical Forum) report into its reorganisation.

The forum had warned the board its proposals were ‘unsustainable’, but the report was changed after intervention by Betsi Cadwaladr chief executive Mary Burrows.

Ms Burrows has said she wanted specific proposals clarified, while NCF chair Mike Harmer said the report was rewritten to ‘ensure there was no ambiguity’.

Mr Banfield said: ‘The question is if that is a legitimate thing to do. If you set up an independent process, that process has to be independent and you have to take whatever report is given to you…

‘It’s very important that any independent body that is national has its terms defined, but it can’t comment on local issues because it doesn’t understand them.’

Reconfiguration guidance

The NCF was set up to provide health boards with independent expert clinical advice and guidance on reconfigurations taking place across Wales.

The WMC advises the Welsh government on matters relating to health and the medical profession. Mr Banfield suggested that ‘if its terms of reference were altered, then it could take on [a wider] role’ in the health service.

In a statement, Ms Burrows said the NCF’s initial response had expressed concern about the longer term sustainability of acute hospital services in north Wales.

She added: ‘In our consultation document we did not propose to change these services at present, but this was conditional on the ability to meet standards within the resources available.

‘The NCF was then asked to clarify their stance on the specific proposals in the consultation document, which they have now done.’