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Covid bereaved families renew call for Welsh probe following evidence of ‘chaos’ as UK Inquiry hears evidence in Cardiff

05 Mar 2024 5 minute read
Dr Frank Atherton. Photo by Life Sciences Hub Wales Via YouTube

Martin Shipton

Relatives of people who died during the Covid-19 outbreak have renewed their call for a Wales-specific inquiry into the pandemic.

In a series of posts to X, formerly Twitter, as evidence was given to the UK Covid Inquiry in Cardiff, the group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru lambasted the Welsh Government – and especially then Health Minister Vaughan Gething and Chief Medical Officer Wales Sir Frank Atherton – for mistakes made during the health crisis.


The group wrote:”Whilst everyone is talking about [Deputy Transport Minister] Lee Waters ‘standing down’ as headline news (it’s not, new leader = new cabinet), the evidence coming out of the @covidinquiryuk is, in the words of our families, ‘chaos’ ‘catastrophic’ ‘criminal’ ‘negligence’ ‘amateur’. A sobering day.

“Week 2 of @covidinquiryuk we start with Frank Atherton, Chief Medical Officer Wales. In the early months he says ‘I lost control of my emails’ due to little admin support. No minutes of key meetings with [Chris] Whitty [Chief Medical Officer England] which he sometimes had three times a week. Wow just wow!

“In a direct contradiction to what @vaughangething stated under oath in Module 1[of the UK Covid Inquiry], Atherton did not have any issue with @CMO_England being CMO for UK and England. Atherton says it would be ‘helpful’ for someone from @WelshGovernment to attend SAGE [the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies] before 11 Feb 2020. But did nothing to request they did attend! Once again we have the Welsh Government complaining [it was] left out by [the] UK Government but then not demanding they attend.

“Why was the Welsh Government so passive? Oh my God – first Welsh Government Cabinet meeting on 25 Feb 20 where Covid first mentioned, the notes say ‘it hadn’t hit our shores’. This was incorrect: there were 9 cases in the UK.

“Mass gatherings- we were following the SAGE advice! Why no independent thinking? Hard challenge? It makes no sense that @vaughangething announced on 13 Mar 20 that ‘all non-urgent outpatient appointments and operations will be suspended at hospitals in Wales, in a bid to delay the spread of the coronavirus pandemic’, but yet [he] didn’t cancel the rugby [Wales v Scotland] until the last minute and allowed 2 x Stereophonic concerts (70K per night) to go ahead the day after (14&15 Mar).

“No Frank, hospitals weren’t potentially running out of PPE – they did. And care homes had none. This man got a knighthood for the way he protected the public in Wales. Can this be challenged? Bingo – Atherton just admitted the choice not to mandate face coverings was a political choice.

“I’m not sure if anyone appreciates how relieved we are that all this evidence is finally coming out. Based on our personal experiences we’ve known all this for 3-4 years – we’re so far ahead of most people – but have been shouting into an echo chamber.

“We’ve also had access to tens of thousands of pieces of evidence from this Wales hearing. Based on the first 4 days of evidence it’s clear that so much more scrutiny is required. So much we cannot legally call out. It’s not good enough to have [in the UK Inquiry report] a Wales chapter/commentary if that chapter is a short one or a footnote. It’s a waste of time to have a gap committee [a committee of Senedd Members meant to fill in gaps relating to Wales that aren’t covered in the UK Inquiry] that has neither the experience, bandwidth and powers to get across such an extensive range of topics.

“The First Minister promised us, face to face, he’d reconsider if Wales wasn’t fully scrutinised. And it isn’t. So we ask him as a farewell gesture to grant us a #WalesCovidInquiry Just for once do the right thing for Wales. “@vaughangething lied to @WelshGovernment Cabinet. He was out of his depth as Health Minister, as was Frank Atherton as Chief Medical Officer. You could laugh at the chaotic state of @WelshGovernment if it wasn’t so catastrophic. Thoughts with all our families watching the @covidinquiryuk today

“Did Frank Atherton just say that the numbers affected in care homes wasn’t large? Oh well that’s OK then! He’s saying they had PPE – no they didn’t have any and definitely not the right PPE. In care homes there was no tests and testing, no oxygen, no steroids, no morphine, no GP visits, no hospitalisations, no ventilation. There was a recover or die policy! The above is based on the lived experience of families and care home owners. @CMOCymru you did not protect the elderly & vulnerable.

“If you’re watching Frank Atherton in the@covidinquiryuk this morning, you may, like us, be wondering just what he was knighted for. Not even one hour of questioning for the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Frank Atherton today. Whitty, CMO England & UK had an entire day. This barely touched the sides. This can’t be right.”

The Welsh Government has made it clear that it won’t comment on evidence while the UK Covid Inquiry is ongoing.

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago

So Drakeford and Gething were the supposedly serene top half of a duck while beneath the waters Welsh Gov was flailing about like a broken paddle wheel…

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