The lack of critical care beds available to deal with the coronavirus outbreak is a cause of “genuine concern”, Plaid Cymru have said.
Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price said that a lack of assurances from the First Minister over how the Welsh Government will ensure more beds were available was worrying.
Adam Price said that “even under normal circumstances” the Welsh NHS doesn’t have enough “critical care capacity” and that COVID-19 was putting “further pressures” on the health system.
Mark Drakeford said “a realistic worst-case scenario” would be one in which “80 per cent of the population” contracted coronavirus and “25 per cent of the population” required significant medical intervention.
Adam Price said Wales should “take the lead” by planning ahead rather than waiting on the UK Government or “waiting for the worst to happen”. He added that Wales should be planning now by training more staff to “increase resource” and set up temporary critical care units to “increase capacity”.
“Even under ‘normal’ circumstances, the Welsh NHS doesn’t have enough critical care capacity but the Coronavirus is putting further pressures on our health system,” Adam Price said.
“The First Minister admitted himself that we could find ourselves in a worst case scenario where 80 per cent of the population contract the virus and 25 per cent need significant medical care.
“It is therefore a cause of genuine concern that the First Minister couldn’t tell me how his government would secure additional critical care beds if the worst comes to pass.
“As First Minister, he should be leading the way, not simply describing the problem.
“We need to plan now in preparation for the worst whilst of course hoping for the best. We need to get more staff trained now to increase resource. We need to convert units into temporary critical care units now to increase capacity should we need it.
“Let’s show that Wales can take the lead rather than waiting on the UK Government to act.”
Meanwhile, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives pressed the First Minister about public transport, and its potential role as being a vector for the transmission of Coronavirus.
“There’s very little guidance or information around using the public transport network, particularly given that research published in the British Medical Council Infectious Diseases found that those using public transport during ‘flu outbreaks were up to six times more likely to pick up an acute respiratory infection’,” Paul Davies said.
Noting that travelling on the public transport network is essential for many people, Mr Davies said that “valid concerns around public transport” exist, as there are often high numbers of people travelling in overcrowded train carriages, poor ventilation, and a lack of hygiene facilities on board as well.
He asked what discussions had taken place with public transport operators across Wales about how passengers can be made as safe as possible when travelling, and what resources are being offered to public transport operators to ensure that they have what they need to ensure that their vehicles and stations are as clean and safe as possible.
“Coronavirus is expected to have an impact on all our lives at some point, and that point is likely to be soon, with current research suggesting a peak in the number of cases in the next two to three months,” Paul Davies said.
“Let me be clear: This is too important an issue to do anything but work with Members from all other parties. An holistic approach to dealing with Coronavirus by all parties, by all departments, and by all administrations in the devolved nations, and in the UK as a whole, is essential.
“Therefore, I welcomed the responses the First Minister gave today, just as I am pleased that the UK Government and the Welsh Government have worked together on legislation to strengthen the Welsh Government’s powers on matters like quarantining and mass gatherings
“However, we Welsh Conservatives will be monitoring how effective these policies and approaches are in Wales, particularly on public transport. I have heard first-hand of people using Transport for Wales services, who found no soap and not even any hot water in the train’s WCs.
“People attempting to maintain their own high standards of personal hygiene when using public transport count for little if they have not the basic facilities to achieve this, and so I urge the Minster for Transport to ensure that all rail services and stations will be kept clean and stocked with the basics of soap and hot water.”