Call for Health Minister to apologise over ‘national scandal’ of care homes testing
There have been calls for Health Minister Vaughan Gething to apologise over the Welsh Government’s handling of testing for Covid-19 in care homes.
Both main opposition parties have branded the Welsh Government’s handling of the issue a “national scandal”.
BBC Wales Investigates, broadcast last night, showed that residents entered care homes from risky settings untested.
The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Helena Herklots, suggested that the Welsh Government should be examined by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) over delays to testing in care homes.
But Wales’s health minister, Vaughan Gething, said the advice and evidence was that there was “no value” in testing those who were not symptomatic.
“We changed the approach that we took on testing people who were leaving hospital on April 22 onwards,” he said.
However, Plaid Cymru Shadow Local Government Minister Delyth Jewell MS said that her party had been consistent in their call for testing people coming out of hospital into care homes and that the Health Minister should now apologise.
“The [Welsh Government] U-turns came too late for many people and the consequences of not implementing universal testing sooner has been laid bare in the testimonies seen in the BBC Wales program,” she said. “It’s nothing short of a national scandal.
“Vaughan Gething’s defensive and unsympathetic response to the BBC investigation was abhorrent. Rather than continue to defend his own terrible decisions he must now offer a full and unreserved apology to bereaved families and traumatised care home staff.
“Plaid Cymru supports the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales’s decision to refer the Welsh Government to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) over delays to testing in care homes.
“The Welsh Government has a duty to publish the evidence that guided their decisions not to test everyone in care homes. I wrote to the First Minister three weeks ago to demand an explanation of his claim there was ‘no value’ in testing asymptomatic residents returning to care homes from hospitals, but am yet to receive a reply.
“The heartbreaking truth is that many beloved grandmothers and grandfathers would still be with us today if a universal testing policy had been in place in care homes from the start.”
Yesterday the Wesh Conservatives also said that the deaths in care homes in Wales were a “national scandal”.
“Today, we read with a mix of sadness and anger that the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales believes a breach has taken place in terms of testing residents of care homes, and again we called for full testing of all care home residents weeks ago,” Janet Finch-Saunders MS, Shadow Minister for Older People, said.
“Although the Labour Government here is struggling enough as it is, I look forward to when an inquiry into this and other aspects of its response to the pandemic begins.
“What has happened in care homes will likely be remembered as a national scandal, and I dread to think how many lives could have been saved.”