Testing Delays ‘undermining Public Safety and confidence’ says Rhun ap Iorwerth

Responding to the news that further lockdown restrictions have been eased in Wales, Shadow Health Minister for Plaid Cymru, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS has said the Welsh Government must be able to prove its ability to deal with new outbreaks – or risk losing public confidence.

Figures released this week show nearly three quarters of test results have taken longer than the optimal 24 hours.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, said:

“We all want to gradually get our freedoms back, but any easing of restrictions needs to be accompanied by a robust mechanism to stamp out coronavirus outbreaks.

“The latest testing turnaround times do not fill me with confidence that Welsh Government will be able to quickly react to new outbreaks, given that three quarters of tests from regional testing centres are taking more than 24 hours to return.

“The recent outbreak in Wrexham is a warning that we still live with a very real Covid-19 threat, and that robust regimes are needed to identify and clamp down on local clusters. This is vital so we can avoid the economic and social impact of having to impose new strict lockdowns.”

Nurse Education plans needs to be released “as a matter of urgency”

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, has called for a detailed plan on nurse education places in Wales to be released urgently, and for the plans to show clear signs that lessons have been learnt from the COVID-19 experience.

Mr ap Iorwerth says that “despite promises” from Labour Welsh Government of a new workforce strategy, and the establishment of a new body to oversee workforce education, he says there’s “little evidence that historic problems are being put behind us.” Established in October 2018, Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) oversees the education of the healthcare workforce in Wales.

While nurse education plans were developed prior to the pandemic, Mr ap Iorwerth understands that these are being reworked, but says “it’s feared that until that work is finished, decisions on staffing and education will continue to happen in an ad-hoc manner with no real strategy.”

In particular, there are concerns about nursing in the areas of children, mental health, learning disability and district nursing, which have seen shortfalls before.

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said:

“The publication of Commissioning Figures for nurse education placements are an important part of the workforce planning cycle. The plan needs to be fit for purpose, it needs to be detailed, and it needs to be delivered as a matter of urgency.

“However, despite promises of a Welsh Government new workforce strategy, and the establishment of a new body to oversee workforce and education matters – Health Education and Improvement Wales – there’s little evidence that historic problems are being put behind us.

“In particular, we need to know that areas that have suffered from shortfalls in recent years have been targeted. These include the training of children’s, mental health and learning disability nurses and also more district nurses.

“Our NHS and care services are only as good as the staff working in them. Now is the time for a real strategy on nurses education, which includes the creation of sufficient training places in key areas. Nurses also need to be given the time by the health boards to continue with their education, which in turns helps them to advance their careers and ensure all specialisms are filled.

“Until that work is finished, decisions on staffing and education will continue to happen in an ad-hoc manner with no real strategy, and that will be to the detriment of Welsh nurses and, ultimately, their patients.”

“Make coverings mandatory in shops” says Plaid as masks made compulsory on public transport in Wales

Welsh Government must stop “lagging behind” and follow up to date scientific evidence on face coverings says Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS

The Welsh Government should “embrace” scientific evidence and make masks mandatory in shops, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS has said.

Although face coverings are now mandatory on public transport in Wales, there is still no requirement to use them in any other public spaces.

Last week, England joined Scotland in making face coverings mandatory in shops.

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Health Minister, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said the Welsh Government’s decision making over face coverings “contradicts the cautious approach they’ve been following until now”.

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Health Minister added that with advice from the WHO, the president of the Royal Society, and various scientific publications including from Oxford and Washington Universities have been explicit about the effectiveness of face coverings in preventing the spread of covid-19.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said,

“The Welsh Government really needs to update its policy on face coverings and embrace the latest scientific advice that suggests it can make a real difference in decreasing transmission of the virus. Instead, they’re lagging behind.

“Their reluctance to do so contradicts the cautious approach it has been following until, and frankly puts its citizens more at risk.

“The Welsh Government must urgently follow the overwhelming advice from sources including the WHO, the president of the Royal Society, various publications including from Oxford and Washington Universities, and many, many more.”

“Everything that helps combat the risks should be embraced. We’re seeing from a recent increase in cases in the Wrexham area, for example, that the risks of increased transmission are still very much present.”

More Summer Childcare Support needed for Key Workers, says Rhun ap Iorwerth

Rhun ap Iorwerth, Member of the Senedd for Ynys Môn, has expressed concern that many key workers are struggling with childcare over the summer and is calling on Welsh Government to reconsider its decision not to fully fund summer care.

Many parents who are key workers – particularly in the health and care sector – have contacted Mr ap Iorwerth following the decision not to continue Covid-19 childcare hubs Wales-wide, meaning they are faced with last minute and unforeseen childcare issues.

Many have found that usual childminding services are already full to capacity and many grandparents are still shielding, leaving parents with limited options, whereas the Coronavirus Childcare Assistance Scheme (C-CAS) during the summer holidays will only be provided to key workers’ children under the age of five, and vulnerable children.

Rhun ap Iorwerth, MS for Ynys Môn, said:

“Many parents are telling me that the decision not to fund child care for key workers over the summer has left them ‘in the lurch’. For those key workers who have no alternative childcare options, they are telling me that they’re having to consider giving up work.

“Many normally rely on grandparents or extended families, but find themselves in a position where grandparents are still shielding, and their family and friends have already formed other extended households.

“I have been in contact with Anglesey Council and they are clearly frustrated that after putting a detailed plan in place to deliver childcare for key workers over the summer, a last minute decision by Welsh Government not to fund it meant the plans could no longer be delivered.

“I have also written to Welsh Government, asking them to reconsider the decision urgently, or to at least review the rules on extended households so that key workers have more childcare options.”

One parent, Clare Mcmullen, a District Nurse from Holyhead, explained that the decision not to carry on with the Childcare Assistance Scheme will have a significant impact on her family. She said:

“The lack of available care is a major problem for me and my family. I am unable to take more annual leave, and with schools not opening until mid September, I’ll need more childcare than usual.

“My only option would be for my children to go to a different household every shift I work – some days that may have to be with with relatives who are shielding, and other days with key workers currently working on COVID-19 wards. I don’t want to create that kind of health risk.

“From the start I have been very aware that my role as a nurse is putting my children at risk, yet I have never hesitated in doing it. But now I need some help.“

Careworkers should be on the same terms as their Healthcare counterparts, says Rhun ap Iorwerth

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS responds to announcement that doctors and dentists in Wales are to be given 2.8% pay increase.

“I’m pleased that this is a decent pay settlement for doctors, dentists and others in the NHS that have given so much during this pandemic. However, Plaid Cymru wants everyone across the health and care sector to be shown proper recognition for their dedication and care, and that includes putting care workers on the same terms as their health counterparts within a single, integrated health and care service for Wales.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth calls for Universal Testing of Social Care and Healthcare key workers

Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Health, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, said:

“When the disease was at its peak, every day our key workers risked their lives to keep our critical services running. As the retail, tourism and hospitality industries start to reopen and our key workers will naturally come into contact with more people, it’s important we afford them peace of mind that regular testing can offer.

“We have underused testing capacity. We know that some people with coronavirus are asymptomatic. Our key workers are, by definition, going to come into contact with more people. Why wouldn’t we use all our testing capacity in making sure our highest risk key workers can benefit from this early warning system?

“I’m calling on Welsh Government to routinely test all high risk key workers – symptomatic or asymptomatic – starting with those in a social care or healthcare setting. There should be a wider strategy to bring in more asymptomatic people across other high risk or ‘high contact’ sectors into the testing system. Care workers and some NHS staff already have access to asymptomatic testing in England. It’s a pilot that is being widened to include those key workers deemed most at risk, or who have the highest contact with other members of the public.

“Whether it’s in caring for our loved ones, running our essential services or keeping us safe from harm, our key workers have more than lived up to their name during this crisis. The least we can do is care for them in return.”

Reduction of testing of Social Care and Healthcare workers a “concern”, says Rhun ap Iorwerth

Rhun ap Iorwerth responds to the Welsh government strategy for testing for COVID-19 in Wales

Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Health, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, said:

“I’m looking to Welsh Government to give people assurance at this time, given the spare testing capacity, and especially given what we know about the spread of the virus from asymptomatic carriers.

“What I can’t see in the proposal is how Welsh Government intend to use the spare capacity, and what I instead see, is a reduction in testing in some areas. The talk of a reduction in weekly to fortnightly testing of care home staff at a point that more restrictions are eased is going to be a concern to many.

“I feel strongly that we need to make better use of the testing capacity available, and we need to make sure that those care workers most at risk – either in terms of their own health or the health of others they come into contact with – are tested regularly.

“This must also include carers who visit people’s homes. A carer will visit many people over the course of a working day. Testing is the core of the early warning system that helps nip new outbreaks in the bud to keep people safe.”

Face coverings should become “mandatory” in higher risk public spaces says Rhun ap Iorwerth

Face coverings should become mandatory in higher risk public spaces, Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS has said.

There has been growing scientific evidence and calls within the scientific community that suggests the risk of transmission is lowered with face coverings.

Mr ap Iorwerth said Wales should follow Scotland and make face masks compulsory on public transport and in shops and called on the Welsh Government to provide a “clear and unambiguous directive” on making face masks mandatory.

Today Professor Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the Royal Society, said “everyone” should carry a face covering when they leave home in order to tackle coronavirus and that they should be worn “whenever you are in crowded public spaces”.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said,

“Evidence continues to grow about the effectiveness of face coverings in limiting the transmission of the Coronavirus. Just as Scotland has now made face masks compulsory in shops and public transport, Welsh Government should provide a clear, unambiguous directive and make the wearing of face coverings a requirement in certain public places.

“We cannot become complacent as more restrictions are eased. The battle to bring down the transmission rate and stamp out the virus continues, and face coverings have a part to play in that.“

Plaid Cymru respond to easing of travel restrictions in Wales

Distancing, handwashing and face masks now “more important” than ever says Plaid as travel restrictions eased in Wales

Responding to the announcement that travel restrictions in Wales will end on Monday, Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said,

“We have supported the stay local rule, but wanted Welsh Government to give more flexibility, in particular in rural areas. They responded positively to that.

“Now that guidelines on limits are to be lifted altogether, what’s important is what people do at their destination. Distancing, handwashing and the wearing of face coverings now become more, not less, important.

“I’d still like to hear a firming up of face covering rules in enclosed areas, for example. Let’s also have clarity on the steps to be taken and the support that will be made available if there is a need to reintroduce some of restrictions in response to local outbreaks. And I’m also reiterating my calls to make maximum use of testing capacity so that the Test, Trace, Protect system can identify outbreaks urgently.”

‘Welsh Government needs a strategy to use Wales’ full testing capacity’ says Rhun ap Iorwerth

Plaid Cymru has repeated its calls to widen covid-19 testing in Wales as a means to identify outbreaks early and safeguard the public. Currently there is capacity for 12,374 tests a day in Wales, but July 1st figures show only 1,410 were conducted in Wales yesterday.

Plaid’s Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth says that routine asymptomatic testing could be extended to more health and care workers, as well as workers in other key or vulnerable areas such as food processing.

Rhun ap Iorwerth said: “Testing is such a core part of any successful battle against covid-19, surely we need a strategy to make the greatest use possible of the testing capacity we have. That capacity was too slow being built up, but now that we have it, it should be used.

“What I’d like to see is a clear strategy on using that capacity in the best possible way. It needs to have a clear objective, but with flexibility build in, so capacity can be shifted to respond to new outbreaks.

Questioned by Rhun in a recent meeting of the Senedd’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee, Professor Deenan Pillay of the Independent Sage Committee said he agreed that use of testing capacity should be maximised, ‘according to a clear strategy”.

One GP in Mr ap Iorwerth’s Ynys Món constituency, who has called for more testing in primary care, said this was needed to protect the public.

Dr Sarah Borlace said: “I believe that regular testing should be offered to health care professionals in order to try and ensure that we are not putting our patients, colleagues and families at risk unnecessarily.”

“My colleagues and I have taken every possible precaution, but routine testing would provide extra reassurance to patients, and I believe regular testing of all healthcare workers should be a priority so we can ensure we are not exposing our patients, colleagues and families to unnecessary risk.”