Concern that only ‘one part’ of UK Covid inquiry will have Welsh focus
Concerns have been raised that only “one part” of the UK Covid inquiry will focus on Wales.
Following the official launch of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry, Plaid Cymru’s health spokesperson has written to the First Minister saying that “many alarm bells” rang following the Chair’s opening statement.
Rhun ap Iorwerth expressed concern over the lack of a Wales-specific perspective to the first and last parts of the inquiry.
Only the second part, which deals with “core political and administrative governance and decision-making” makes any mention of looking at Wales at present.
“Given that you have long insisted that if Wales is not fully scrutinised then we will need to have a Wales-specific inquiry, I would be grateful to know what your latest thoughts are, after the announcement of the Opening Statement last week,” Rhun ap Iorwerth said.
He said that he was “concerned that whilst Module 2 (Government decision making) will have a sub-module in Wales neither Modules 1 (Preparedness ) and 3 (Healthcare) do”.
“The content of Modules 1 and 3 are very important – we need to know if Wales was prepared, what the impact was on services in Wales,” he said. “How can we know this without sub-modules for devolved nations on these seriously important themes?”
‘We want answers’
Last Thursday, the UK Covid-19 Inquiry announced three modules of the inquiry, which will examine:
- Module 1: resilience and preparedness of the UK;
- Module 2: core political and administrative governance and decision-making (UK):
• Module 2A: Scotland
• Module 2B: Wales
• Module 2C: Northern Ireland
- Module 3: impact of Covid-19 on healthcare systems, patients, staff and hospitals.
The First Minister has previously stated his expectation for the inquiry to “be able to make the best sense it can of the experience of families, patients, staff here in Wales during the pandemic”.
However, module 3, which examines the impact to patients and staff does not have a Wales-specific element to it, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said.
“The opening statement by the UK Inquiry Chair rang many alarm bells for me, and I am seeking clarification from the First Minister on two important points,” he said.
“I want to know why there isn’t a specific Welsh perspective to all three inquiry modules announced to date and why there appears to be an in-built delay before specific questions regarding Wales are raised in relation to the second module.
“Decisions made in Wales should be scrutinised in Wales, but given the narrow scope outlined in the UK Chair’s opening statement – when only one module out of three will have a Welsh focus – this is now seriously in doubt.
“Given that the First Minister has long insisted that if Wales is not fully scrutinised then we will need to have a Wales specific inquiry, his response will be greatly anticipated by myself and the thousands of bereaved families in Wales that want answers. And we must get answers.”
The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru campaign group have also repeated their call for a Wales-specific Covid inquiry.
“We are pleased that module 2 is going to be split by devolved nations and the hearing(s) held in Wales,” they said.
“However we are curious to understand how Wales will receive the proper scrutiny it deserves in modules 1 and 3. We agree with Russell George in reiterating the need for a Wales specific inquiry to ensure that Wales doesn’t get lost amongst the decisions being taken by other nations.
“We are asking the First Minister to reconsider his position on a Wales specific inquiry. The UK Inquiry set up based on these modules clearly does satisfy the FMs ‘tests’ that ensure Wales will be fully scrutinised. We cannot have Wales become the dreaded footnote we all feared.”
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