Lack of Covid-19 tests in Wales “deeply worrying”

Responding to the statement from Public Health Wales that only 5,000 Covid-19 tests have been conducted in Wales, Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said,

“We were told on March 21 that 800 tests a day were being done and that we’d hit 6,000 a day by April 1st.

“To hear now that only 5,000 tests have been carried out IN TOTAL is deeply worrying.

“We need to hear immediately how Government intends to ramp up testing significantly. This is now a matter of extreme urgency.

Coronavirus: help and information for people in Wales

People in Wales have many questions about coronavirus related to employment rights, benefits, business support, travel, food, retail, cancellations, education and lots more. Assembly Members and their staff are receiving lots of these enquiries.

The Assembly’s Research Service has collated all of the latest information covering a whole host of areas and you can find that information by clicking this link.

Below I have noted a number of contact details and websites for agencies and organisations that could be of use to you in this challenging time.

If there are contact details you require which are not noted in the list below, please email me on or phone my office on 01248 723599 and my team and I will be happy to help with this or any other matter

💰MONEY ADVICE SERVICE:…/mortgage-payment-ho…
🏢ISLE OF ANGLESEY COUNTY COUNCIL:…/Covid-19-Coronavirus-informat…
✈️CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY:…/Guidance-on-consumer-law-for-airli…/
📋AGE CYMRU: 08000 223 444
📘CITIZENS ADVICE: 01407 762 278 /
📖OLDER PEOPLE’S COMMISSIONER:…/Joint_statement_on_COVID-19_…
🏠SHELTER CYMRU: 08000 495495

Ynys Mon AM urges Government to issue directive regarding island visitors

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Ynys Mon Rhun ap Iorwerth has urged Welsh Government to issue an urgent directive to prevent visitors from leaving their primary residences to come to second homes or caravans in parts of the UK where essential services cannot handle further strain.

The Ynys Mon AM raised this matter with First Minister Mark Drakeford last week in the Senedd, and has since written an urgent letter to the leader of Welsh Government asking for a directive to be put in place to protect local services in rural Wales which are already under strain.

Mr ap Iorwerth renewed his plea on Sunday evening as it came to light that arrests had supposedly been made on the island after escalation where local people had allegedly intervened to try and drive visitors away to protect local services.

The AM said on Sunday night:

“I have heard this evening of arrests in Rhosneigr, with some people trying to get visitors to the area to go home at this time of crisis. Please, please, don’t do this – it needs to be sorted properly, and I’m asking Welsh Government once again to please sort this out.

“A clear directive needs to put in place that people at this time should occupy their own primary residence, seeking assistance – if they need it – from their own local NHS provider.

“We just haven’t got the resources here to provide for an unnecessarily inflated population. Everybody needs to be sensible, but Government needs to take action and it has to happen now.”

Influx of visitors threatening capacity of local services, says Rhun ap Iorwerth

Welsh Government must issue instructions to close caravan parks, whilst supporting business owners, in order to protect our health services as much as we can in the face of increasing pressure due to the coronavirus outbreak, Plaid Cymru AM for Ynys Mon Rhun ap Iorwerth said.

Concerns have been raised in recent weeks regarding the extra strain that could be placed on local health services should visitors come to the island to occupy caravans or second homes in order to themselves from urban areas in a bid to escape the outbreak of this virus.

Mr ap Iorwerth raised questions about whether the local health services in north-west Wales could cope with the influx of visitors with the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, this week, and on Friday a GP on the island contacted the Ynys Mon AM with concerns as a large number of new patients had tried to register with his practice whilst they’re on the island to isolate.

The Plaid Cymru AM said:

“Over the past week, I’ve raised multiple times with Welsh Government, including in the Assembly Chamber, fears that our health services are coming under unnecessary increased pressure due to an influx of visitors.

“Today I have had a GP contact me saying a dozen people have tried to register with his surgery as new patients whilst they’re here to isolate. He reports a major influx to his local community and that’s just second homes.

“We must have an instruction to close caravan parks etc, whilst providing support to the business owners, but protecting our health services as much as we can. The Chair of Betsi Cadwaladr agrees, and so too council leaders here and in other parts of Wales.

“I’m writing again to Welsh Government to raise this as an urgent issue, and in a meeting this evening with the Health Minister. My colleague Liz Saville Roberts MP has raised this with the Prime Minister today, too.”

Ynys Môn AM writes to Welsh Government to request urgent business support in light of coronavirus pandemic

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Ynys Môn Rhun ap Iorwerth has written to Welsh Government with urgency to request additional support and resources to aid the business community as it faces severe strain in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses on Ynys Môn have written to the AM expressing significant concern following lost business and revenue in light of the UK Government’s advice to enact social distancing as the fight against the spread of coronavirus intensifies.

In a letter to Welsh Government Minister for Economy, Ken Skates, Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“In light of recent announcements in London as well as several small business owners in my constituency contacting me personally with fears of the effects Coronavirus may have on their businesses, I have contacted Welsh Government with urgency regarding what support they will be providing for people at this time of crisis.

“UK Government has announced a package of support in the recent budget that will take the pressure off businesses who may otherwise be significantly affected by the current Pandemic, but businesses in Wales are still waiting for such an announcement.

“One local business owner in my constituency has calculated that he has lost upwards of £16,000 over the next 10 weeks due to cancellations, which is a significant sum. Further pressure on this particular business is felt as there are employees who need to be paid. Another small business yesterday reported to me that revenue losses as a direct result of covid-19 were running at £120k.

“Further to this, I have written to Welsh Government asking them to outline what support is available from Welsh Government for the self-employed and sole traders. Scottish Government has set up a helpline for businesses to contact, so I have also asked if Welsh Government will be setting one up as a matter of urgency.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth urges Welsh Government rethink to ramp up Coronavirus testing

Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth AM has today called on the Labour Welsh Government to clarify whether or not they will be ramping up surveillance testing in Wales as a means of creating a fuller picture of the extent of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Rhun ap Iorwerth also pointed to Scotland’s Covid-19 helpline for businesses who will face growing uncertainty in coming weeks as the outbreak takes its toll on the economy, arguing that a similar helpline should be set up in Wales.

Plaid Cymru’s Health Spokesperson Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“With three of north Wales’s Covid-19 testing centres closing, I’m concerned that people will not have access to prompt testing as they have been.

“If we scale back on testing it will be increasingly difficult to model the spread of the virus.

“We must also prioritise essential NHS staff and key public sector workers for testing as they will have a crucial role in the response to the pandemic.”

Responding to the likely economic toll of the virus, Rhun ap Iorwerth added;

“Our economy is likely to suffer a significant hit over the coming weeks as fewer people socialise in their communities and spend less money in local shops.

“I want people to be given as much support as possible and that includes businesses.

“Scotland has in place a COVID-19 Helpline dedicated to the concerns of business and this should be set up in Wales too without delay.

“We are pleased that Welsh Government is giving us regular updates, and it’s vital that we all work together. But we also have to keep pushing to ensure best practice. There are currently a number of gaps that need to be filled which are a matter of concern.”

Ynys Mon AM responds to confirmation of first coronavirus case on the island

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Ynys Mon Rhun ap Iorwerth has issued the following comment after it was confirmed that the first case of novel coronavirus has reached the island.

The Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister said:

“Following confirmation of the first coronavirus case on the island, I know people are concerned, but I’ve spoken with the family of this person – I’ve been in touch with them for a few days, helping them to get a test.

“This person hasn’t seen anyone on Anglesey or in Wales for a number of weeks, because the person had been outside Wales for a period and I’m told they’ve been in total self-isolation since their return, due to concerns about their symptoms. Since then, a test has taken place, it’s positive, and the person is still in self-isolation.

“Of course, there will be more cases here in the coming weeks so that’s why it’s important to take those sensible steps of washing hands, not touching your face and to self-isolate for seven days if you develop a new cough or a high fever, and remember with any coughs or sneezes to catch it, bin it, kill it.

“Public Health Wales regularly updates information and advice online. I’ve created this shortcut to help constituents find that information:

“I realise that many people will not have access to the internet, so perhaps a friend or family member could seek answers on the website on your behalf if constituents have any questions, or failing that, whilst my office can’t give health advice, if constituents want my team to relay the latest information and advice from the website to them, please call us on 01248 723599.”

Welsh Government must be on “24-hour watch” after Cornavirus case in Wales

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth AM has called on the Welsh Government to be on “24 hour hour watch” after a case of Coronavirus was identified in Wales on Friday (28 Feb).

In a letter to the Labour Health Minister Vaughan Gething AM, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Health Minister stressed the need for the response to such a “significant outbreak” internationally to be “swift and co-ordinated” to ensure public confidence.

Mr ap Iorwerth said the Welsh Government has to be on “24 hour watch” to “contain the virus” best as possible.

Mr ap Iorwerth urged the Labour Minister to “urgently clarify” what assessment the Welsh Government had made to the risk to public health and what “level of expertise” there was within the Welsh NHS to deal with the virus. Mr ap Iorwerth also questioned how many isolation units had been identified within Welsh hospitals.

The Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister also asked if the Health Minister would provide extra funding to the NHS to deal with the outbreak. Thanking health professionals for responding so quickly, Mr ap Iorwerth said the Welsh Government were obliged to tell the public how much resources they would be providing locally and nationally to ensure Wales could adequately deal with the crisis and to keep “citizens safe and away from risk”.

Writing to the Labour Health Minister Vaughan Gething AM, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said:

“The response to such a significant outbreak needs to be swift and co-ordinated to ensure public confidence. Therefore, the Welsh Government needs to be on 24 hour watch in order to contain the virus as best as possible.

“With that in mind can you urgently clarify what assessment the Welsh Government has made of the risk to public health? What is the level of expertise within the Welsh NHS to deal with cases of the virus? Have the neccessary isolation units been identified within Welsh hospitals?

“And without diverting resource from elsewhere, will you provide any additional funding needed to the NHS to deal with the outbreak of Coronavirus?”

Mr ap Iorwerth added:

“It was all but inevitable that a case would be confirmed in Wales. I am grateful to the health professionals who have responded so quickly. We now need to ensure that they and the health workforce have the support they need to keep the public safe and ensure that any other new outbreaks are also quickly identified and isolated.

“Whilst people have no need to be overly concerned in Wales the public need to be told exactly what resources the Welsh Government are providing both locally and nationally to ensure Wales can deal with this in a way that keeps our citizens safe and away from risk.”

‘We cannot afford to lose Caernarfon HGV test centre’ says Rhun ap Iorwerth

Rhun ap Iorwerth is continuing to press on Welsh and UK Government to act and overturn the decision to close the HGV test centre in Caernarfon, which threatens the livelihoods of numerous businesses across north-west Wales.

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Ynys Môn Rhun ap Iorwerth raised concerns with Welsh Government directly this week.

Welsh Government Minister for Economy and Transport Ken Skates AM responded to Mr ap Iorwerth’s question, outlining he had sought clarification on the DfT’s proposals, but the Plaid Cymru AM urged Welsh Government ‘to go further than that’, adding:

‘In August last year, following concerns raised with me by my constituent, Huw Williams, who trains HGV drivers on Ynys Môn, I wrote to the DVSA, pointing out to them that they had a lack of capacity in Caernarfon as things stood.

‘What companies like Huw Williams’ had found is that they couldn’t get enough slots in the centre in Caernarfon in order to test those people who they were training. That tells me that we needed to grow and strengthen the centre, so you can imagine my huge disappointment in hearing that the intention now is to close the test centre.

‘There was a suggestion that they would seek another site in Caernarfon, having closed the current site. That’s not how things should be done. If the DVSA agree that there is a need for a centre in Caernarfon, then they must find a new site in Caernarfon or in that area now, not after the closure of the centre.

‘Welsh Government must do everything it can to urge the UK Government to change this decision, because we can’t afford to lose that centre.’

Rhun ap Iorwerth slams ‘scandalous’ A&E waiting times as records reach worst ever

Rhun ap Iorwerth has launched a scathing attack on Labour Welsh Government after figures showed the worst A&E waiting times yet for January.

The number of patients spending more than 12 hours in A&E in Wales was the highest on record again in January.

6,882 patients in total faced long waits which was 226 more than in December.

The Welsh Government’s targets say that no patient should be waiting more than 12 hours.

The figures also show that 83.5% of patients were waiting less than six months to start hospital treatment – the lowest proportion since December 2015 and lower than the 95% target.

Paying tribute to the ‘heroic work’ by frontline NHS staff, Mr ap Iorwerth said the latest figures were ‘a scandal’ and that poor performance was down to the NHS being ‘poorly managed and poorly planned’ by Labour.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Health, Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said,

“Month by month the figures for A&E waiting times keep getting worse and it’s patients and staff who pay the price.

“I pay tribute to the heroic work done by frontline NHS staff under increasingly difficult circumstances and shocking mismanagement from the Labour Welsh Government.

“These latest figures are a scandal. A&E waiting times are at their worst ever. . Doctor numbers are low compared with most of Europe. Targets have been dropped or missed.

“Poor performance can’t be blamed on under-funding alone. Spending per head on the NHS is above most English regions, and several Scottish regions. The simple truth is that our NHS is being poorly managed and poorly planned – and the responsibility lies at Labour’s door.

“Meanwhile, we can’t trust the Tories whilst they cut and wreck the NHS in England and flirt with its privatisation – to the detriment of patients.

“People deserve better. Plaid Cymru will invest in services to prevent ill health from taking place in the first place, transforming the NHS for the future. We’ll improve workforce planning and work conditions to help recruitment and retention of NHS and social care staff. And we’ll bring back Community Hospitals and NHS beds.

“Things can’t do on like this. Things have to change. It’s only a Plaid Cymru government that can bring that change.”