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Doing it Differently, Doing it Right?
18 January 2021

Governance in the NHS during the COVID-19 crisis – Key themes, lessons and opportunities

NHS bodies in Wales have faced unprecedented challenges and considerable pressures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout this crisis, NHS bodies have had to balance several different, yet important, needs:

  • the need to ensure sufficient capacity to care for people affected by the virus;
  • the need to maintain essential services safely;
  • the need to safeguard the health and wellbeing of their staff; and
  • the need to maintain good governance.  

In order to respond to these needs effectively, NHS bodies have been required to plan differently, operate differently, manage their resources differently, and govern differently. 

This report is the first of two, summarising the findings of our structured assessment work on an all-Wales basis with the aim of highlighting key themes, identifying future opportunities, and sharing learning both within the NHS and across the public sector in Wales more widely. This report focuses on how NHS bodies have governed during the COVID-19 crisis, with a particular focus on putting citizens first, decision making and accountability, and gaining assurance.

Our second report will focus on how NHS bodies have supported the health and wellbeing of their staff during the pandemic, with a particular emphasis on the arrangements they have put in place to safeguard staff at higher risk from COVID-19.

What we found

Through our structured assessment work last year, we were given a unique opportunity to see how NHS bodies have been adapting and responding to the numerous challenges and pressures posed by the COVID-19 crisis. 

We found that all NHS bodies operated effectively with a sense of urgency and a common purpose to adopt lean and agile ways of working and achieve rapid transformation whilst also maintaining a clear focus on core areas of business and governance.

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