THE Welsh Government’s pandemic stockpile didn’t contain any surgical gowns prior to the Coronavirus crisis hitting Wales it has been revealed – contrary to what Health Minister Vaughan Gething told the public two weeks ago.
Two weeks ago, Vaughan Gething said in the Welsh Government daily press conference that gowns were included in the Welsh Government’s pandemic stockpile when Coronavirus reached the UK.
However, a letter sent to Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price last week from the First Minister confirmed there were no gowns in the pandemic stockpile between June 2016 and February 2020.
The letter notes that there were of eye protectors, 1.488m frames and 1.658m lenses, 5.7m facemasks and 4.8m gloves but confirms “gowns were not included in the pandemic stockpile”.
When questioned by Adam Price in today’s First Minister’s Statement, the First Minister did not seem to be aware of the letter he sent to the Plaid Cymru Leader.
Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price said the First Minister and the Health minister were not on top of the detail on the pandemic stock.
Mr Price said that in 2016, the Welsh Government was represented on a sub-committee of NERVTAG – which advises the UK Government on pandemic stockpiling, recommended that the composition of PPE stockpile should be re-considered.
He pointed out that in June last year, NERVTAG specifically recommended the procurement of gowns and questioned whether the Welsh Government had seen sight of that recommendation.
The Plaid Cymru Leader said that either the Welsh Government had seen sight of the recommendation and failed to act or that the UK Government had failed to share “life-saving information” with Wales.
The First Minister said he “couldn’t answer that sort of detailed question”.
Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price said,
“At the very least the Minister’s answer in the press conference is completely contradicted by the First Minister’s answer to me in his letter.
“It is also frankly astonishing that the First Minister didn’t know the content of a letter he himself wrote to me and could not clarify what pandemic stock was available before the virus hit. They do not seem to be on top of this crucial detail on the pandemic stock.
“In June last year, NERVTAG recommended the procurement of gowns. This is the second time I have asked the First Minister to clarify whether the Welsh Government saw that recommendation. If they didn’t, was it a case of the UK Government failing to share potentially live saving information with the Welsh Government?
“Rather than being evasive, the First Minister must answer that crucial question.
“The lack of PPE has been a source of great concern to front line health and care workers and the stock of surgical gowns in particular have been a problem. Only a full disclosure of the facts will reassure them that the Welsh Government had taken all reasonable steps to ensure adequate resources were available at a time of crisis.