Y Pwyllgor Cydraddoldeb a Chyfiawnder Cymdeithasol

Equality and Social Justice Committee


Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Carolyn Thomas Yn dirprwyo ar ran Sarah Murphy
Substitute for Sarah Murphy
Jane Dodds
Jenny Rathbone
Joel James Yn dirprwyo ar ran Altaf Hussain
Substitute for Altaf Hussain
Ken Skates
Sioned Williams Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor Dros Dro
Temporary Committee Chair

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Angela Lewis Cyfarwyddwr Pobl a Diwylliant, Ymddiriedolaeth GIG Gwasanaethau Ambiwlans Cymru
Director of People and Culture, Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust
Jason Killens Prif Weithredwr, Ymddiriedolaeth GIG Gwasanaethau Ambiwlans Cymru
Chief Executive Officer, Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Angharad Roche Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Rhys Morgan Clerc

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Dechreuodd rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod am 14:45.

The committee reconvened in public at 14:45.

2. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
2. Introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest

Good afternoon and welcome to the Equality and Social Justice Committee. We're continuing with our discussion around a public health approach to preventing gender-based violence—I beg your pardon, we're continuing with our inquiry into the governance of the fire and rescue service. We've had apologies from Altaf Hussain and Sarah Murphy, and we're pleased to welcome Joel James and Carolyn Thomas in their place. I'd just like to ask Members if you would allow Sioned Williams to chair this meeting, because, unfortunately, I'm unable to be with you today through unforeseen circumstances. I see no dissent. Sioned Williams, over to you.

Penodwyd Sioned Williams yn Gadeirydd dros dro am weddill y cyfarfod.

Sioned Williams was appointed temporary Chair for the remainder of the meeting.

Diolch, Cadeirydd, a phrynhawn da. Felly, mae'r cyfarfod yma yn ddwyieithog a chyfieithu ar y pryd ar gael o'r Gymraeg i'r Saesneg. Mae'r cyfarfod yn cael ei ddarlledu yn fyw ar Senedd.tv. Allaf i ofyn i'r Aelodau sy'n bresennol a oes gennych chi unrhyw ddatganiadau o ddiddordeb cyn ein bod ni'n dechrau sesiwn y prynhawn yma? Na, dwi ddim yn gweld unrhyw un yn datgan diddordeb. Iawn.

Thank you, Chair, and good afternoon, everyone. So, this meeting is bilingual and interpretation is available from Welsh to English. The meeting is broadcast live on Senedd.tv. Could I ask Members present whether you have any declarations of interest before we start the session this afternoon? I see that you don't. Fine.

3. Llywodraethiant Gwasanaethau Tân ac Achub: panel 7
3. Governance of Fire and Rescue Services: panel 7

Felly, rŷn ni'n croesawu i'n sesiwn dystiolaeth ni y prynhawn yma Jason Killens, prif swyddog gweithredol, Ymddiriedolaeth Gwasanaeth Iechyd Gwladol Gwasanaethau Ambiwlans Cymru. Croeso i chi, a hefyd Angela Lewis, cyfarwyddwr pobl a diwylliant, Ymddiriedolaeth Gwasanaeth Iechyd Gwladol Gwasanaethau Ambiwlans Cymru. Croeso i chi, Angela. Felly, byddaf i'n dechrau gyda chwestiwn eithaf cyffredinol i ddechrau, ynglŷn â'r trefniadau cydweithio presennol sydd yna rhwng y gwasanaethau tân ac achub a'r gwasanaethau ambiwlans. Ydych chi'n gallu rhoi unrhyw enghreifftiau o arfer da yng Nghymru, neu mewn mannau eraill, o ran trefniadau sy'n bodoli ar hyn o bryd ar gyfer cydweithio, sydd efallai'n dangos pa mor werthfawr yw cydweithio? Dwi ddim yn gwybod pwy hoffai ddechrau.

Therefore, we welcome to our evidence session this afternoon Jason Killens, chief executive officer of the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust. Welcome to you, and also Angela Lewis, director of people and culture, Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust. Welcome to you both. So, I'll be starting off with quite a general question in terms of the current joint working arrangements in place between the fire and rescue service and the ambulance service. Could you give us any examples of good practice in Wales, or elsewhere, in terms of current joint working arrangements that demonstrate, perhaps, the value of joint working? I don't know who'd like to start.

Bore da. Thank you, good afternoon, and thank you for the invitation to attend your committee this afternoon. In relation to your question, I think I'd probably make a couple of observations to start, if I may. Obviously, the Welsh ambulance service, being a national provider across Wales, works across each of the fire and rescue services in Wales, so the three fire and rescue services. From a strategic perspective, it's fair to say that I have and we have good relationships and working arrangements with the chief fire officers and their senior teams. I will, on a personal basis, interact with them on a pretty regular schedule, either through the joint emergency services group where chief officers come together, or on an individual basis if we've got a particular issue or topic that we're working through together.

And then, on a more day-to-day basis, our teams interact pretty much every day on an operational level in responding to incidents, be they, obviously, fires or, perhaps, road traffic collisions and so on, where both of our services come together to provide a service to our communities. And then, we have arrangements in place where we work together, particularly in community responding or in responding to lower categories of emergency call that we receive in the ambulance service. There are examples of these arrangements right across the UK. They vary here in Wales, but dialogue continues with all three services to enhance that provision. It's particularly important for us in rural and remote areas, where our assets, our resources are somewhat greater utilised than those of fire and rescue service colleagues from other schemes across the UK indicates that there are benefits to patients who dialled 999, seeking to access emergency care, from co-responder schemes, and we've been therefore in dialogue with fire and rescue services across Wales for some time in those areas.

I think the final area I would go to for evidence of good practice working is I'd take us back to the pandemic period, where fire service colleagues were able to support us in a number of ways, but the one that perhaps comes to the foreground was with the provision of some emergency drivers to enable us to expand our fleet, our capacity. So, we worked very closely together to select and train those individuals from the fire service who worked with and supported our people. And so, there are a number of examples where we've got good practice and good working relationships at an operational level.


Diolch yn fawr iawn. Dwi’n mynd i ddod â Jenny i mewn yn fanna. Dwi’n meddwl eich bod chi eisiau dilyn lan ar hwnna, Jenny.

Thank you very much. I’m going to bring Jenny in there. I think you want to follow up on that, Jenny.

Yes. Thank you very much indeed for your paper; really, really useful for us. Could you just tell us a little bit more about the joint emergency services group and how it might—? What’s its role in driving collaborative initiatives and partnerships?

That’s a really good question. So, the joint emergency services group essentially is an informal setting where chief officers from emergency services, the military, the NHS and other responding agencies—so, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency would be a good example—where chief officers or senior leaders from those agencies come together from across Wales. It’s unique in the way that it works, in as much as there isn’t another example of a similar forum across the UK, and whilst it’s not on a formal statutory footing, if you like—it’s not an organisation or an entity in its own right—it exists with the consent of those chief officers.

We do find it very useful for sharing the challenges that each of the agencies have. Of course, many of them are similar in nature. We’ve used it as a forum to share best practice, so we shared some of the work actually we’ve been doing on our culture with chief officers through the joint emergency services groups about six or nine months ago, and there have been other examples where police or fire services have done the same.

So, it’s a good, useful forum here in Wales. There isn’t another example across the UK where chief officers come together on a national footprint as we do here. It served us very well through the pandemic to maintain operational and situational awareness. I was chairing the group for two years through the pandemic, and it’s a forum for us to share pieces of work, best practice, and move forward together as joint emergency services, blue light agencies, across Wales.

Obviously, when there’s an emergency, people tend to step up to the plate. I wonder if we could just probe a little bit further on how welcome the information that you shared some nine months ago about the cultural challenges you were facing up to—how much was that picked up by the three fire services, and what was their response?

I mean, I can’t comment on what was done back in each of the organisations, and my colleague Angie might want to come in here with a bit more detail, but certainly the conversation in the room on the day was lively. Every chief officer that was present engaged in it, and I guess probed us—if I could describe it like that—to understand more about what we were doing and the approach we were taking. So, there was certainly genuine interest, and I think it’s fair to say our teams have supported dialogue and conversations with individual organisations since then, but Angie might want to come in with a bit more by way of detail.

Yes, I can. Thank you, Jason. Just to build on that, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service in particular have recently come along to some learning sessions that we’ve been doing with our legal and risk colleagues around sexual safely. So, after the event that Jason references, they particularly reached out to us and asked us to look at the material that we were using, and have come back to us on a number of occasions to try to learn some more. Similarly, in the other fire services, we've also continued that dialogue outside of the meetings with my counterparts. So, it was really positive to see that there was a desire not just amongst the fire and rescue services, but the other emergency services to learn and share good practice.


Obviously, these conversations were taking place at senior officer level to senior officer level; has there been any dialogue between your board and the boards of the fire and rescue services? And if so, with which ones?

There hasn't been board-to-board dialogue. Obviously, our governance arrangements are different across police, fire and the ambulance service as part of the NHS. So, there hasn't been a broader dialogue with our board. But as Angie says, certainly at a chief officer or an individual practitioner level—so, Angie's equivalent, the director of people and culture and some of our teams—our teams have been working directly with their peers in organisations, but certainly not at a formal board level. 

Jenny, dwi'n meddwl efallai fod Jane Dodds jest eisiau dod i mewn yn fanna. Jane. 

Jenny, I think Jane Dodds wants to come in there. Jane. 

Ie. Diolch yn fawr iawn, Cadeirydd. Gaf i jest ofyn, Angela, roeddech chi'n sôn yn fanna am bethau'n digwydd efo sexual exploitation, dwi'n meddwl, neu rywbeth fel yna—rhywbeth yn digwydd. Dwi ddim yn siŵr; nes i ddim clywed y cyfan ohono fo. Oeddech chi'n cael pobl o'r tri gwasanaeth tân ac achub dros Gymru—mae gennym ni dri: un yn y gogledd, un yng nghanolbarth Cymru ac un yn y de. A oedd yna bobl o'r tri yn dod i'r digwyddiad yna?

Thank you very much, Chair. I just want to ask you Angela, you mentioned there about things happening with sexual exploitation, or something like that—something happening. I'm not sure; I didn't hear all of it. Did you see that people from the three fire and rescue services all over Wales—we've got three services: one in north Wales, one in mid Wales and one in south Wales. Were there people from the three services attending that event?

I got some of that, but not all. So, I hope I can answer it. So, in terms of our sexual safety work that we've been doing now for—yes, so it's about reducing misogyny and addressing sexual safety in the workplace. So, the event that Jason talked about with the joint emergency service group was us sharing our story in terms of our work around sexual safety, some of the learning, our development of a voices network and the approach we've taken. After that, then, in particular the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service reached out to me, my counterpart reached out to me in terms of learning more about what we had done. And in a recent event that we held, which was across Wales for NHS communities but also local government, and we extended that invitation to fire and rescue and other emergency services, south Wales fire in particular—the others might have been there, but I know south Wales fire were there because afterwards they then messaged me for a further follow-up. I hope that helps.

Diolch yn fawr. Nôl i chi, Jenny.

Thank you very much. Back to you, Jenny.

Thank you. The chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, Mark Hardingham, has said that there's a lack of appetite for closer co-operation from a health perspective, and that meant that this closer co-operation hadn't been taken forward at a UK-wide level. What's your comment on that assessment?

Thank you. I'm not familiar with the context in which that quote was made, but my general take would be that working between the fire chiefs council and the equivalent in the ambulance sector—so, the equivalent across the UK ambulance sector is the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives. That brings together the ambulance services from the three devolved nations and those 10 services that exist in England. There is close working between those two organisations, and certainly here in Wales, given the unique footprint we have on a national basis, our relationship with the chief fire officers is close. I wouldn't necessarily recognise a comment that said the NHS or the ambulance sector wasn't leaning into collaboration with the fire services. Certainly, here in Wales, we do that, and there are many examples. And I think it's fair to say, certainly from a senior leader perspective, from the two organisations, the chief fire officers and from the ambulance sector, that there is regular communication and good sharing of business and practice where it's relevant across the two sectors.


Okay. Both the Williams commission, which did a major study into the public services back in 2013, and then, more recently, in 2022, Audit Wales—. You know, indicating that we really need to be pushing forward on this—. You've mentioned that there's good collaboration, particularly in rural areas, where, clearly, it's really important to ensure that people get a service, when, clearly, by definition, services are more thinly spread on the ground. But both have, you know, been pushing for more collaboration. Now, Audit Wales is beginning to say that there is slow growth in the collaboration, but there needs to be a step change in activity to maximise the impact and make better use of resources, frankly. How would you respond to that more recent Audit Wales assessment?

Well, that's right. So, Audit Wales looked at blue light collaboration, as you say, in 2022, obviously across the Welsh footprint. There were, again, examples, where collaboration across police, fire and ambulance took place, but there is no doubt that there is room for improvement and more we can do together, both in terms of using our human resource, so our people, our colleagues, differently and more effectively across the three agencies to the benefit of our communities, but also, I think, in other areas. So, the use of estate, for argument's sake, was one that Audit Wales identified where there are, you know, hundreds of sectors—buildings—in public sector ownership across the three organisations in Wales, and there are opportunities, more opportunities, for us to co-locate. Now, we've already got a number of co-locations with police and fire and ambulance, or fire and ambulance, working in locations across Wales, but there is no doubt there is room for further consolidation of the estate footprint across the three organisations, or the three services, to better use those public sector resources. And, you know, we've got—. I can talk of two or three examples that are live for us now where we're in dialogue with fire colleagues about co-location—one I'm personally involved in—so, I know we're still working on this, but, obviously, when you're talking about estate and changes to the working location of colleagues and redevelopment of estate, these things take a bit of time to work through, but there is more to be done.

Co-location is the easy bit, really; it's much more about bringing the work together to perhaps spread it out more evenly. You talk about the huge numbers of calls that you're making every day, and we are fully aware of the strain that the ambulance service is in, with much greater demand since COVID, and I just wondered where the drive is going to come from for really trying to share the heavy lifting?

From our perspective, there is opportunity for some of the activity that we see to be supported by provision from other organisations. It's not necessarily as straightforward as saying,and I'll make this up, 'You know, 10 per cent, 20 per cent of our activity could be managed by colleagues in fire and rescue services', because, obviously, the skills and equipment necessary to support that aren't readily available, but there is activity, there is work that we believe can safely and appropriately be supported by colleagues in fire and rescue services. And that's why we've been in dialogue with colleagues, particularly around non-injury fallers, so patients who fall over, are assessed remotely by our clinicians as not to have a clinical need, but do need assistance in getting up safely off the floor, or, right at the other end of the spectrum, at the very high-end acuity—and this isn't to replace our people, but it's to attend alongside our people—so, this is in cardiac arrests in communities, and this is particularly relevant for us in the pre-hospital space in rural and remote areas because we know that seconds count and lead to better outcomes for patients. That's why we've been in dialogue with the three services to look at responding at both ends of the spectrum of work that we see—those less serious non-injury fallers to free up the ambulance to respond to other patients that do need it, and at the top end of the work, to respond with our people to be able to get defibrillators and trained personnel on the scene much quicker.


Okay. I'll hand back to my colleagues to probe this a bit further.

Diolch, Jenny. Os gallaf i jest dilyn lan un cwestiwn cyn ein bod ni'n symud ymlaen at gwestiynau gan Ken Skates. Rŷch chi wedi sôn yn gyffredinol yn fanna ynglŷn â llawer o'r manteision o gydweithio. Beth yw'r heriau? Roeddech chi'n sôn yn fanna am gydleoli—beth yw'r heriau rŷch chi'n eu hwynebu?

Thank you, Jenny. If I could just follow up on one question before we move on to questions from Ken Skates. You mentioned generally there about many of the advantages of collaboration. What are the challenges? You mentioned there co-location—what are the challenges that you face?

That's a great question. Angie may want to contribute to this too, but from my perspective, the single biggest challenge, I think, around collaboration is sovereignty. By that, what I mean is that we are our own entities, our own organisations. We've got our own governance processes, our own statutory and regulatory requirements we need to satisfy, and of course a need to work with our people, our staff, our colleagues and volunteers on any change or any collaboration we undertake. Sovereignty is the single biggest issue, and inevitably in genuine collaboration, someone needs to give something up. Someone needs to give something up. Now, that's not a problem if we are certain that we are going to make matters better or improve services for our communities. But inevitably, with different constituents and different stakeholders that we need to satisfy and take with us on the journey of genuine collaboration, these things can be quite complicated and complex. So, I think sovereignty and trust in the relationships are the two biggest issues, and I think for us here in Wales, again I'd go back to the joint emergency services group. Having worked in two other jurisdictions—essentially two other countries—previously, in the ambulance sector, I do think one of the unique benefits we have here in our system is the ability for us to get the chief officers in a room physically, which you just can't do in another environment. So, there is definite strength in the personal relationships that we're able to forge and create as a result of that.

One of the witnesses we heard from last week said that it was really all about money, that so long as there was more money in the system, that would work out. It was pointed out that there is no more money. So, is nothing going to happen unless there's more money?

So, look, I mean more resource—. I could find a way to spend more resource every day of the week—of course I could. But we're all alive to the fact that public sector resourcing and public sector finance is tight—very tight—and therefore any additional resource that is made available not only has to have a strong case, but we also need to be able to evidence the benefits that are going to come from it. But what I would say is that there are opportunities for us to collaborate within the existing resource that we already have, to improve things for our communities. To do that, someone needs to give something up. That might be me—just by way of example—saying, 'Okay, well, the ambulance sector is going to contribute to or support a collaborative scheme and that's going to cost me £2 million, £5 million, £10 million, or whatever it is.' I think, in doing that, if we are clear that the benefits are strong and we're able to convince other stakeholders that we need to take with us on that journey of collaboration, then that's something we would do. A good example, I think, for us in our setting is the estates work that we've done. We're an organisation in our own right, our people are very proud of their identity and their workplace, but we have, over a number of years, moved into co-location, particularly with fire service colleagues, and brought those two cultures together in a single building. Both organisations have had to lean into that, be that financially or by losing their own station or stations. So, there are examples where we come together and work well, but I don't see money as the complete barrier. 


Diolch yn fawr iawn. Rŷn ni'n mynd i symud ymlaen nawr at gwestiynau gan Ken Skates. 

Thank you very much. We're going to move on now to questions from Ken Skates. 

Diolch, Chair. To what extent have the fire services and the Welsh ambulance services trust implemented the recommendations that go back to 2014, I think it is, for clear strategic and operational co-ordination plans, which, of course, was advised by the Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery?

I can't comment with authority on those recommendations; that was prior to me. I joined the organisation here in 2015. I will happily look back at the recommendations and take a view as to where progress has been made against them and write to the committee after today. I'm very happy to do that, to give you a sense of what progress has been made against them. But I haven't got a detailed working knowledge to hand of the recommendations from that report. 

That would be very helpful. Thanks. The report also proposed the establishment of a unified body for scrutinising all emergency services. What do you think are the potential barriers, and, equally, what are the benefits of doing this?

The starting point, I think, is that the governance arrangements for each of the emergency services are different—very different. Policing is obviously a reserved matter with the Home Office in the UK Government. We are fully devolved and part of the NHS, and, obviously, fire sits in a different governance stream as well. We have a unitary trust board—a chairman, non-executive directors, and, then, a senior team made up of myself and a number of directors. Personally, I'm accountable through to my chair, but also to the director general for health and social services. Chief constables are operationally independent, and, as I say, are governed through the Home Office. So, I think a single unified body to oversee the emergency services would be somewhat challenging given the very different governance arrangements, and, arguably, the different roles that each of the organisations have. 

If I can just give you one example, we are clear that we are part of the health service, and we do not want any association with enforcement or—. Yes, 'enforcement' is probably a good way to describe it. And one of the main reasons for that is that if the relationship between us as a health service provider and our communities changes, and they see us as more of an enforcement agency—which could be a risk if we're part of a single unified emergency services body—they're less like to tell us things that we need to know that are going to keep them safe and that allow us to provide great care to them when they need it.

So, I'd be very nervous, I think, of a suggestion of, let's say, an emergency services commission that saw police, fire and ambulance as one and the same. We've got very different roles in our communities. We've got different governance. There are examples internationally where the three services may be more closely scrutinised and overseen by a single body, but I think my sense would be that, having worked in one of those jurisdictions, we have a better set of arrangements here. 


Thank you. That's really helpful to know. Have there been any further discussions with the Welsh Government about this, and indeed with the fire and rescue authorities? Or is it being shelved now?

That's not something I'm familiar with. I'm not familiar with any live conversations that suggest that there would be a separate entity that would oversee fire and ambulance and/or police. I'm certainly not aware of any live conversations in that regard.

Diolch yn fawr. Cwestiynau nawr gan Joel James. 

Thank you. Questions now from Joel James.

Thank you, Chair, and thanks ever so much for this afternoon. I know it's been touched upon, briefly, in response to other questions—[Interruption.] A part of the wall has just fallen down—

I think you've just had something fall over there. 

I know it's been touched upon previously in some of the questions about expanding the role of the fire service within the NHS, and I know, from my own meetings, there's always been that talk about maybe the fire service could answer calls regarding trips and falls and things like that. I just wanted to get your views about that overall. Are there examples elsewhere in the United Kingdom or maybe in the rest of the world? Because I know you've had experience in Australia as well. I don't know what the situation is out there. And also, what are the limitations, in terms of the fire service having specific shift patterns and down time where they can rest and relax and get on with other stuff within the depots? I just wanted to get your views on that, if that's possible.

Yes, sure. The roles are very different. I think there are a number of things I would say here. I do genuinely think there is room for greater collaboration, greater co-responding at both ends of the activity that the ambulance sector sees, and I make no comment there about the workplace environment for our colleagues and the terms and conditions issues, but just from a patient's perspective, from a service user's perspective, from a community perspective, that has to be the right direction of travel. I can't see a strong argument against that.

There are examples across the UK and internationally where the ambulance and the fire service sectors work closely together to respond to that activity, and it would be something that I would be very open to here in Wales. I do think it would the right thing to do. But, again, there are issues we would need to work through.

Clinically, I don't see an opportunity for fire service colleagues to respond to, let me say, a broad church of our activity. Just to give you some examples, if a fire service colleague, a firefighter, was to respond to a stroke or a patient with cardiac chest pain, or a patient with abdominal pains, for argument's sake, there is very little that that firefighter would be able to do, clinically, for that patient and, inevitably, we would need to attend. Those patients are not necessarily as time critical as some of the other groups of patients at the top end of our response categories, where interventions that could be provided by a firefighter could make a difference.

So, I think we would need to distinguish between what activity would be appropriate and where there would be a benefit for firefighters to respond in addition to or instead of ambulance paramedics or other ambulance staff. But I don't see that it would necessarily be a universal response. I don't think that's right. Fire service colleagues aren't skilled and equipped for that, and the patients, ultimately, wouldn't benefit from that additional response. Does that help?

Yes, that's perfect. Thanks ever so much for that. With that in mind, are you aware of any instances where the fire brigades have taken up that mantle elsewhere, either in the UK or globally?


There are certainly examples in Australia where fire services respond closely with the ambulance sector, and there are some examples here. We've had some examples here in Wales, but there are industrial complexities to a more universal roll-out of medical co-responding.

In the previous evidence we had, where we were interviewing the Fire Brigades Union, they mentioned that they have trialled—for want of a better word—where they've looked at medical interventions, and I was just wondering if you knew about these trials, and if you'd been asked to feed into them.

Yes, we do know about them, and certainly the sector does know about them. We are supportive of them, and we do see benefits both in terms of a better use of public resource overall, and for patients. But the industrial complexities, the terms and conditions issues, particularly for firefighters, would need to be worked through.

Diolch yn fawr. Cwestiynau nawr gan Jane Dodds. 

Thank you very much. Questions now from Jane Dodds. 

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Dwi am ofyn, os yw hynny'n iawn, am eich barn ar drefniadau llywodraethu gwasanaethau tân ac achub. Gaf i ofyn yn gyntaf beth yw'ch barn chi ar y trefniadau llywodraethu sy'n bresennol yn y gwasanaethau tân ac achub yng Nghymru? Ydych chi'n meddwl eu bod nhw'n effeithiol, os gwelwch yn dda?

Thank you very much. I want to ask, if that's okay, about your views on the governance arrangements of the fire and rescue services. Could I ask first of all what's your view on the current governance arrangements of the fire and rescue services of Wales? Do you believe they're effective?

I'm probably not able to comment on their effectiveness or otherwise, because I'm not that close to them, but I think, inevitably, the more diverse the governance arrangements of an organisation, the better leadership of an organisation we're going to see, and by that I mean both in terms of decision making but also in terms of representation in those senior leadership positions. As an NHS body, we have, as I described earlier, a senior leadership team made up of myself and a number of directors, and they support us both in terms of a check, challenge and scrutiny role, through our governance, through our committee structure and with our trust board, but they bring with them experience from other organisations, from other sectors, and I think that's immensely valuable in the choices and the way we go about making the choices or the decisions that we do, because it brings with it a different perspective.

Senior leadership in the ambulance sector has not exclusively been the purview of ambulance technicians and paramedics for a number of years. That's not to say that we shouldn't seek to develop and promote our own people—of course we should—but we've also been open to senior appointments from outside the sector for decades now. I think, as long as the balance is right in the leadership team in a particular organisation between those who have—let me describe it as this—'grown up' through a sector or an organisation and those who haven't, then I think that makes for effective leadership teams. So, I suppose what I'm saying in response to that is that where an organisation is largely made up of senior leaders who have grown up through that organisation or in that sector, there is a risk of a narrowing of the diversity of the views that that team may have. Angie may want to comment more on that.


I'm happy to do so, Jason, yes, and I would agree with that, about how we manage and how, across the ambulance sector, there is a definite message in terms of can we make sure we've got good balance in terms of that internal perspective of those who've worked within that particular profession and those who haven't, but also, I think, the broader NHS governance that we are privy to, which is that challenge externally from, as you say, NHS Wales, the director general; there is quite a significant amount of scrutiny and challenge in terms of what we do and an expectation that we are held to account for that. And I think the non-execs, and our chairman as well, provide that level of additional rigour alongside the auditors et cetera that are across the NHS.

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Mae hwnna'n ddiddorol iawn, i glywed eich profiad chi. Gaf i ofyn tipyn bach mwy am beth oeddech chi'n sôn am, Angela, am yr exec, y bobl tu allan, sy'n edrych ar beth sydd yn mynd ymlaen? Fel rydym ni'n ei ddeall, yn y gwasanaethau tân ac achub, mae yna aelodau o'r cyngor, hynny yw, yr awdurdodau lleol, ar y bwrdd hwnnw. Gaf i ofyn ydy hynny'n digwydd yn y gwasanaethau ambiwlans, os gwelwch yn dda, ac oes gennych chi farn ar hynny, os gwelwch chi'n dda?

Thank you very much. It's very interesting to hear your experiences. May I ask a little bit more about what you were talking about there, Angela, about the exec, the people who are looking at what's going on? As we understand it, in the fire and rescue services, there are members of the council, members of the local authority, on the board. Could I ask if that happens in the ambulance service and whether you have a view on that, please?

Yes, happy to answer that. So, our non-exec come from different parts of private organisations, public organisations, they may be retired, so there isn't that same focus on local council et cetera, so they come from a diverse group of roles. They apply for those roles, they're interviewed and they're appointed. So, that's the difference, I think, in terms of the exposure that we might get, the challenge we might get, and the fact that people will rotate and leave those roles after a period of time, so the expectation is those posts come to an end and then they are replaced by new individuals. So, that is different, and I think your point about effectiveness, I would say it's definitely effective in terms of giving an additional level of scrutiny. I think Jason mentioned that our non-execs in particular come from such a diverse group of roles, have significant experience across a wide range of sectors that does allow us to really benefit from their experience. But it also means we get very proactive challenge and scrutiny, in a positive way, in terms of what we're actually delivering, so I would say it's an effective model.

Diolch. A Jason, roeddech chi eisiau dweud rhywbeth, dwi'n meddwl. Oeddech chi jest eisiau dilyn hynny?

Thank you. And Jason, did you want to say something? I think you wanted to add something there.

Yes. Thank you. If I could just build on Angie's response there, so, as Angie's described, our non-executives are public appointments. They're advertised, they're openly advertised, and there is a selection process that those applicants go through. We don't have any political appointees on our board, so there are no local councillors. It's fair to say that our non-executive appointments are ministerial appointments, but they're not political appointments, if I could describe it like that, and we seek people to join our board with specific skills. So, we don't just say we want—make it up—six non-executives; we will advertise for people with specific skills to lead and chair committees within our governance structure. So, we look for people, for argument's sake. At the moment, we have people on our board who have come from aviation and finance, from the NHS, from the third sector, from the care sector, so we've got a broad church of experienced senior leaders in their own right, in their own sectors, who come together and offer that diversity of view and thinking to us as a board.

Diolch yn fawr iawn. A jest un cwestiwn arall, os gwelwch chi'n dda, Cadeirydd. Jest ar ddata yn y gwasanaethau ambiwlans: oes gennych chi ddata ar faint sy'n fenywod yn y lefel sy'n arwain, a faint sy'n dod o gefndir sydd ddim yn wyn? Oes gennych chi ddata gallwn ni eu gweld, efallai, fel pwyllgor? Ydy hwnna'n iawn? Gwych. Dyna fo.

Thank you very much. And just one other question, please, Chair. On data in the ambulance service: do you have data relating to the number of women at a leadership level and how many come from a background that's not a white background? Do you have data that we could see, perhaps, as a committee? Would that be okay? Thank you. Excellent.

Yes, we certainly do have data, and Angie might just want to comment on that briefly, but we're happy to write to you separately with the detail.

Mae hynny'n iawn. Dwi'n meddwl bod y Cadeirydd eisiau symud ymlaen, ond diolch yn fawr iawn. Gwych.

That's fine. I think the Chair wants to move on, but thank you very much. Excellent.

Diolch yn fawr. Rŷn ni'n rhedeg mas o amser, felly os gallaf i ofyn i chi gadw'ch atebion chi'n weddol gryno ar gyfer y section nesaf. A fyddai hi'n bosib i'r ddau ohonoch chi aros ymlaen jest am bum munud y tu hwnt i'r hanner awr wedi? Ydy hwnna'n bosib i chi? Ie. Grêt. Diolch yn fawr iawn. Fe wnaf i basio draw at Carolyn Thomas felly am y cwestiynau nesaf.

Thank you. We're starting to run out of time now, so if I could ask you to keep your responses quite brief for the next section. Would it be possible for both of you just to stay on for another five minutes beyond half past? Is that okay? Yes. Great. Thank you very much. I'll pass things over to Carolyn Thomas for the next questions.


Diolch. You've touched on this already a little, but I just want to ask you how confident are you about the culture of your organisation—are there examples of good practice you would like to share, such as the Allyship programme?

Yes, thank you. So, Angie will certainly talk to most of this, but perhaps if I could just start. You'll have seen in our evidence submission to the committee that we know we've got pockets of let me describe it as poor behaviour across our organisation. As I say, we're a national organisation, with over 100 sites, nearly 5,000 people all up, dispersed, very dispersed—our workforce is very dispersed across those locations. And the work that we commenced about two years ago, where we undertook a proactive audit of our culture, told us that we had pockets of poor behaviour. Since then, there have been a lot of different and varying interventions that we've taken. But I think, if I could, just before I hand over to Angie, the most significant intervention, I think, for us has been to recognise, both internally but also externally, that we have a problem with a small number of our people, and we've been very open about that as an organisation. We recognise that we have work to do, and our colleagues have work to do, and Angie and the team have led on some of those interventions. But it's taken all of us in leadership roles to be open to challenge and improvement. There are things that we haven't got right, over a number of years. And where we don't get things right, we're happy to say so, and learn from those experiences. And I think that, as a result of that, what we are starting to see is more of our colleagues, across the organisation, coming forward and tell us about things that haven't been handled well. And we're able to improve their experience as a result of that, but, crucially, deliver better care for people across Wales as a result. So, the journey for us started a couple of years ago; we're not there, we've got a way to go, but we are working hard to make our workplaces safe for our people. Angie.

I'll make this quick, because I know, obviously, that we need to move on. A couple of key things I'd say in terms of good practice—and Jason just referenced—we talk a lot about psychological safety in the workplace, how can people feel safe, how can they speak up. So, I'm really proud of the work that we're doing around freedom to speak up in particular. We've put in place specific guardians, freedom-to-speak-up guardians, anonymous digital platforms to allow people to speak up, because we recognise that, even though we've got lots of other processes, there's a small group of people who still didn't feel safe enough to come forward. And one of the measures for us of success is that people are coming forward and they are raising concerns.

The other key thing I would say—and we referenced it in our submission to you—is our networks. So, our Voices network, who are individuals who have lived experience of misogyny, or dealing with sexual safety issues, that is a thriving network of individuals helping us as a senior team to think about how we address this. So, it's in partnership, not a top-down approach, and similarly the wider networks that we have around equality, diversity and inclusion, but also our culture champions—so, again, trying to make sure that this is a whole-organisation approach to changing culture, which does not happen overnight. So, they would be a couple of the key things that I would pick out.

You mentioned Allyship; I'll just say, we've also built on our Allyship programme, and we now have a bystanders training programme—active bystanders—so, again, asking colleagues to be part of the change that we all want to see, to call it out when they see behaviour that isn't acceptable. Because we recognise, as senior leaders and leaders, that we all still have a role to play. So, that role of every member of staff to call out when they see things that aren't right is probably one of the biggest pieces of work that's happening at the moment. 


Thank you. It sounds like we could do with sharing some of those best practices with other national institutions and public sector bodies who are having cultural issues of misogyny and discrimination in Wales. Do you think this is symptomatic of a broader systemic problem, and are there any further actions you would like to see the Welsh Government take to address broader systemic cultural issues? 

Angie, do you want to start? 

Yes, happy to. So, I do think it's a broader issue. I do think that we are seeing, really positively, individuals coming forward to say, particularly generational challenges around, 'I'm not prepared to accept working in organisations where I'm not heard, I'm not valued and I don't feel safe', and this is something that we should welcome. So, I don't think it's just in some organisations—I'm hearing it from colleagues across every sector. 

In terms of from a Welsh Government perspective, I've seen a real desire to want to make sure that there is sharing of good practice across all sectors, and I think that's the area where we really need to focus. It's about stealing with pride, learning from each other, and making sure, where we're really seeing a difference, that others are then able to adopt that easily. So, I definitely think that there is more that we could do within that Welsh Government framework to bring people together, because they see this across the board—so, trying to make those connections, but also continuing to reinforce how important it is, and that this isn't just a couple of culture reviews happening, this is actually across the board that we should be making this change.  

Diolch yn fawr. Jest un cwestiwn cyflym iawn, jest angen ateb cyflym iawn. A ydy'r comisiynwyr sydd nawr yn edrych ar beth sy'n digwydd yng Ngwasanaeth Tân ac Achub De Cymru wedi cysylltu â chi er mwyn dysgu o'r hyn rŷch chi wedi'i gyflawni o ran y gwaith rŷch chi newydd ei amlinellu?

Thank you very much. Just one further question and a quick answer, please. Have the commissioners who are looking at what's happening in South Wales Fire and Rescue Service contacted you to learn from what you've achieved in the work that you've just outlined? 

I've certainly had no contact from any of them so far. 

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Iawn. Wel, rwy'n flin ei fod e wedi rhedeg drosodd ychydig bach, ond mae'ch tystiolaeth chi wedi bod yn hynod o ddefnyddiol i ni fel pwyllgor. Fe fydd yna drawsgrifiad yn cael ei anfon i chi er mwyn i chi fedru gwirio hynny ar gyfer cywirdeb, ond diolch yn fawr iawn i chi am eich amser y prynhawn yma. 

Thank you very much. Okay. I'm sorry that we've run over there, but your evidence has been very useful to us as a committee. There will be a transcript sent to you so that you can check it for accuracy, but thank you both for your time this afternoon. 

4. Papurau i'w nodi
4. Papers to note

Iawn. Fe fyddwn ni nawr yn symud at eitem 4 ar yr agenda, sef papurau i'w nodi, a mae gyda ni un papur y prynhawn yma, dwi'n meddwl, gan National Energy Action Cymru ar dlodi tanwydd yng Nghymru. A ydy Aelodau yn fodlon i nodi'r papur? Ie. Iawn. 

Okay. So, we'll move to item 4 on the agenda, namely the papers to note, and we have one paper this afternoon, from National Energy Action Cymru on fuel poverty in Wales. Are Members content to note that paper? Yes. Fine. 

5. Cynnig o dan Reolau Sefydlog 17.42(vi) a (ix) i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod
5. Motion under Standing Orders 17.42(vi) and (ix) to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting


bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi) a (ix).


that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi) and (ix).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Symudwn ni i eitem 5 felly, a dwi'n cynnig nawr o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i wahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod heddiw. A ydy Aelodau yn gytûn? Dwi'n gweld bod Aelodau yn gytûn. Iawn, fe awn ni nawr i sesiwn breifat. Diolch yn fawr. 

We'll move on to item 5, and I propose under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting today. Is everyone content? I see that Members are content. So we'll move into private session. Thank you very much. 

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 15:38.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 15:38.