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Drakeford denies being asked about a Wales-specific Covid inquiry during local election campaigning

28 Apr 2022 4 minute read
Mark Drakeford. Photo Ben Birchall PA Images

Mark Drakeford says he hasn’t been asked about a single question about a Wales-specific Covid inquiry during campaigning for the local council elections.

There were renewed calls yesterday for the First Minister to hold a Welsh Covid inquiry after the High Court ruled unlawful UK Government policies on discharging untested patients from hospitals to care homes in England at the start of the Covid pandemic.

Responding to the ruling, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said: “These are the exact issues that a Wales-specific Covid inquiry would investigate, which is why it is totally unacceptable for this arrogant Labour Government to block one as it runs scared of scrutiny.”

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said that a Wales-only Covid inquiry would offer an opportunity to scrutinise the way that the Welsh Government dealt differently with care homes.

She noted that mass testing in care homes in Wales was brought in a month after England, one of “several decisions made in Wales that was significantly different from that in England” that need to be scrutinised independently, she said.

Plaid Cymru also renewed calls for a Welsh-only inquiry after raising questions about whether a UK-wide inquiry would be independent of the UK Government, as the First Minister had claimed.

However, speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, Mr Drakeford said people are more concerned about local issues ahead of the elections.

“Not a single person has asked me about that in the hundreds of doors that I’ve knocked,” he said.

“There is a Welsh inquiry, because we are part of the UK inquiry into what went on during the shutdown.

“The best way to get a proper understanding of the decisions we made is to see them in the wider context.”

Welsh NHS

Questioned over the state of the Welsh NHS, which has made headlines again in recent days due to its record waiting times, Mr Drakeford said people remain “grateful” for the health service.

He said: “The Welsh NHS in the minds of the public has not gone from hero to zero in just a few weeks. The major thing that people talk to you about is the heroic way in which people who work in the NHS went on day after day during the pandemic, turning up to work, providing services.

“Of course now people want to see the NHS recover. And so do we.

“People remain enormously appreciative of the enormous actions that people have taken.”

Welsh health minister Eluned Morgan announced plans this week to improve NHS Wales, including £1 billion of investment with the aim of ensuring no-one will be waiting more than a year for treatment by spring 2025.

Mr Drakeford said people are most often worried about “things they can see from where they’re standing”, such as the availability of play areas for their children and access to community halls.

However the Welsh Labour leader said the cost-of-living crisis and other national issues are also on people’s minds.
“On the doorstep, things people talk to you about are what they talk to you about in any election, whichever things they can see from where they’re standing,” he said.

“Things like traffic, parking, rubbish. How can my child use the play area? When will we be able to get back to using our community hall to the fullest extent?

“In the background of it, there are always the national things. The cost-of-living crisis certainly is something that people are worried about, anxious about, want to know what help is coming their way.

“For young people, particularly on the doorstep, mental health, the recovery from the pandemic, and the global crisis in climate change.”

All 22 councils in Wales are holding elections on May 5.

Labour currently has the largest number of councillors across the country and the majority control of seven local authorities.

They lost 100 seats in the 2017 elections, but will be looking to build on the success of last year’s Senedd ballot which saw them win half of all the seats in Cardiff Bay.

All 22 councils in Wales are holding elections on May 5.

Labour currently has the largest number of councillors across the country and the majority control of seven local authorities.

They lost 100 seats in the 2017 elections, but will be looking to build on the success of last year’s Senedd ballot which saw them win half of all the seats in Cardiff Bay.

Welsh Conservatives have made considerable gains in recent years but polling day comes during a difficult period for Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the national Tory party.

After the last elections in 2017, the Labour Party won 468 seats, independent candidates had 309 seats, Plaid Cymru won 208, the Conservative Party 184 and the Liberal Democrats 63.


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Gareth Wardell
Gareth Wardell
7 months ago

It is important to bear in mind that the unacceptably long NHS waiting times for hospital appointments has a huge impact on the standards of living of the people of Wales. Not only is our quality of life adversely impacted as many people wait in pain, but the inability to work leads to
a reduction in family income which also leads to depression.

The Original Mark
The Original Mark
7 months ago

I was listening to the Radio 4 interview, the comments about the covid enquiry didn’t come across very well, and I’m pretty sure they gave RT more time to attack not just Labour but virtually every political party in Wales.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
7 months ago

Not only stoic but polite too…

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