Conservatives go on the offensive over care home Covid testing
Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies has attacked the Welsh Government’s policy on testing for coronavirus in care homes during the early months of the Covid pandemic in 2020.
Mr Davies also repeated his calls for a Wales-specific Covid public inquiry during a testy First Minister’s Questions.
Last week, the High Court found that the UK Government’s policy in March and early April 2020 of discharging patients in England into care homes without testing, despite the risk of asymptomatic transmission, was unlawful because they failed to take into account the risk to elderly and vulnerable residents from non-symptomatic transmission of the virus.
Mr Davies reminded the First Minister that at the time Mr Drakeford had said he could see “no value” in testing patients being transferred from hospital to care homes in Wales, and added: “Your health minister at the time said he did not understand the rationale behind it.
“Shockingly, the same minister also said that if he had a tripling of the testing capacity here in Wales he still would not test patients being transferred from hospitals into care homes.”
The leader of the opposition also pointed out that Wales didn’t introduce mass testing until two weeks after England and asked the First Minister why his government delayed rolling it out.
Fear of scrutiny
Mr Davies also said it was events like care home testing that illustrate things were done differently in Wales throughout the pandemic and accused Labour of blocking a Wales-specific Covid inquiry through either “fear of scrutiny or arrogance.”
Speaking outside the chamber, following the exchange, Mr Davies said: “Since the start of the pandemic, Labour ministers in Wales have been adamant on doing things differently compared to other parts of the UK.
“Their mantra was ‘keep Wales safe’ but in fact that couldn’t be further from the truth with Wales having the highest Covid death rate in the United Kingdom.
“The fiasco surrounding care home testing, drastic shortages of PPE in care homes and thousands of people being sent incorrect shielding letters are just a few of the reasons why we need a Wales-specific Covid public inquiry.
“Lessons need to be learnt and families who have lost loved ones throughout the pandemic deserve answers, and only a Wales-specific public inquiry will allow that but Labour continue to block one.
“However, giving answers clearly isn’t a strong point of the First Minister as he also dodged questions today on Labour’s refusal to hold a probe and why they delayed care home testing. The people of Wales deserve better.”
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