Welsh government health officials are under investigation by Covid


On Monday, two senior officials will testify before the UK Covid inquiry about how well Wales was prepared for the pandemic.

Both former NHS Wales chief Dr. Andrew Goodall and chief medical officer Sir Frank Atherton will be questioned.

Both men played a crucial role in Wales' Covid response, frequently participating in televised live media briefings.

On Tuesday, First Minister Mark Drakeford and former Health Minister Vaughan Gething are scheduled to testify before the inquiry.

In May 2021, Mr. Gething was appointed economy minister, and Dr. Goodall is now the Welsh government's permanent secretary and top civil servant.

The Covid Bereaved Families for Justice Wales organization has claimed that Welsh ministers showed a "catastrophic failure" to plan for such an emergency during the hearings, which are being presided over by former judge and cross-bench peer Baroness Hallett.

Despite UK-wide warnings, the group testified that the Welsh government "does not appear to have taken sufficient steps to understand and plan for the risks of a pandemic" on the first day of the inquiry last month.

Kirsten Heaven, the group's barrister, claimed that as a result, "vulnerable groups and communities have suffered much more severe consequences from Covid-19.".

Additionally, the group charged that the Welsh administration was attempting to "shift responsibility" for pandemic preparation to the Senedd and the civil service.

Frank Atherton
Wales' chief medical officer was named Sir Frank Atherton in 2016.

Before and during the pertinent period, "Wales and the Welsh government did not have an adequate understanding of the risks posed to the people of Wales from the pandemic," Ms. Heaven continued.

"Pandemic preparedness, for instance, failed to account for the acute health disparities in Wales, which were distinct from those in the rest of the UK, and which included levels of chronic illness and disability in the older population. ".

With public hearings in Wales this fall, the UK-wide inquiry is taking into account Wales' pandemic preparedness.

Calls for a Wales-specific investigation have been rejected by the Welsh government.

A bipartisan Senedd committee has also been formed to check for any inconsistencies in the findings of the UK inquiry regarding Wales.

If gaps are found, it will review those areas if Members of the Senedd agree, but it won't be the comprehensive public inquiry that activists are calling for.

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