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Covid inquiry campaign group share one woman’s heartbreaking story

28 Nov 2021 3 minutes Read
Heléna Herklots, the Older People’s Commissioner

A group that is campaigning for a Wales specific inquiry into the government’s response to the Covid pandemic has shared the story of one bereaved woman they are supporting, amid mounting pressure for ministers to back a Wales-only probe .

Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice-Cymru tweeted on behalf of one of their older members who was not on social media but wanted her story told.

The group said: “Her husband was taken into the Grange Hospital with Covid in October last year. She tried to ring daily and get updates with limited success. Either ring later, no answer or vague updates.

“After 2 days of hearing nothing, she caught a bus and went to the Grange. She wasn’t allowed in and didn’t get any new information, so she despondently returned home.

“The next day she received a call from Nevill Hall hospital to say that things were not looking good for her husband. Apparently, he had been transferred there 3 days earlier for palliative care. Nobody had told her.

“She rushed to be by his side, but he died, just a day before their 50th wedding anniversary. When she was trying to organise his funeral, his body couldn’t be found for 8 days.”

Last week the group welcomed support from Heléna Herklots, the Older People’s Commissioner, who added her voice to the campaign. They also called on Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales for backing.

Ms Herklots said in a letter that “a Welsh Public Inquiry would provide the best opportunity for older people to be listened to, have their experiences and views valued, and their questions answered as part of an Inquiry”.

She added in a letter to the Welsh Conservatives: “I am clear that a Public Inquiry must focus on learning lessons from what we have all gone through and how the decisions that were made by the Welsh Government, and other public bodies in Wales, have affected all of our lives.

“We must learn from what has gone well as part of Wales’ response to this pandemic, and look at how in any future outbreaks, we would do things differently”.

Pressure

The Welsh Conservatives, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats have all backed a Wales-specific Covid inquiry, however, First Minister Mark Drakeford has so far resisted their calls.

The Welsh Government says a UK-wide inquiry “will have the capacity and force to oversee the interconnected nature of the decisions that have been made across the four nations”.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS welcomed Heléna Herklots’ call for the inquiry in Wales last week.

“From knowing that a quarter of Wales’ 8,000 Covid-related deaths were caught in hospitals to the decision to implement the disastrous firebreak to bringing in redundant vaccine passports, there is much the Labour Government needs to answer for and a Wales-specific inquiry would provide the chance for that,” he said.

“The way the First Minister is trying to position himself ready to blame the British Government after finding himself on the wrong side of public opinion is unacceptable. He needs to cut out the political games and get on with delivering a public inquiry.

“The support of the Older People’s Commissioner is a huge boost to the campaign, and I hope the First Minister will be convinced by her argument as, sadly, those of the bereaved families have not yet moved him.”


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