Thanks to Anglesey covid heroes

Ynys Môn MS Rhun ap Iorwerth had the opportunity to pay tribute to some of our local covid champions, as nominated by people from Anglesey, in the Senedd this week.

The opportunity came about as the Welsh Parliament decided they wanted to recognise some of the extraordinary things done by individuals, groups, key workers or businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic to help the most vulnerable and keep communities together, by showcasing them in an online portrait gallery.

Members of the Senedd were invited to nominate up to three champions from their constituency.

Speaking at the Senedd, Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“I was pleased to be able to nominate covid champions from Ynys Môn for the Welsh Parliament’s gallery. The biggest challenge was to try and choose three out of so many who have given their time and energy to help others during this period, so I put the decision in the hands of the people of Anglesey and invited nominations from constituents via my facebook page.

“The response I received was incredible, with more than 40 nominations for individuals, groups and businesses across the island. And it was so heartening to hear the different stories of all the great work that has been done. So many people have gone above and beyond with their jobs, or volunteered their time, but all have played their part in creating a real community spirit. And their efforts are clearly truly, truly appreciated.

“That is why I sought an opportunity not only to nominate the three with the most nominations for the Senedd’s online gallery, but also to try and say a public thank you to all of those who were nominated. From the octogenarian still volunteering with the food bank to the 7-year-old who walked over 87,000 steps to fundraise. From individuals who organised scrubs, masks, ear defenders and more, to the Llanddeusant postie who did his round in fancy dress to cheer children (and adults!) up during lockdown.

“A huge thank you to you, and all the other covid champions across the island. Please know that you are appreciated.”

The three that received the most nominations from Anglesey were Chippy Chippy (for building true community spirit whilst providing children with free meals), the Gwalchmai Hotel (who fed the vulnerable and organised activities for children as well as setting up a food bank) and Caru Amlwch (for making sure that no one went without in the Amlwch area). The portraits will be displayed as social media posts on the ‘Visiting the Senedd’ social media accounts (Senedd Instagram, Senedd Facebook, Pierhead Twitter) in November – December 2020.

Rhun has also produced a video which he has shared on his social media pages to say a big thank you to our local covid heroes, which can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/rhunynysmon/videos/3569992173065869

LIFTING BETSI OUT OF SPECIAL MEASURES MET WITH SKEPTICISM

“Welsh Government remain responsible” says Rhun ap Iorwerth

Responding to the news that Betsi Cadwaladr will be taken out of special measures with immediate effect, Plaid Cymru Rhun ap Iorwerth, Member of the Senedd for Ynys Mon and Shadow Minister for Health said,

“Today’s announcement comes as a surprise given that only a few weeks ago the Health Minister stated that not enough improvements had been made to exit special measures. We were told there were still big challenges to overcome, not least in mental health.

“Through continued targeted intervention, Labour Ministers remain responsible for what happens in terms of strategic direction and the delivery of services in the north, and after 5 and a half years of special measures, patients can be forgiven for being sceptical about what today’s announcement will actually mean in terms of improvements to services.

“Plaid Cymru believes that the board’s problems are chronic and structural, and that major changes are still required. That’s why we say it’s time for a fresh start, with new health and care structures serving the north instead of the current Board which is too large and remote from the communities it serves. Patents and staff deserve better, and I thank those hard working frontline staff for their work and commitment during such a difficult year.”

ENDS.

RHUN AP IORWERTH UNVEILS PLAN FOR YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH ‘ONE STOP SHOPS’

Rhun ap Iorwerth announces new plan to support young people’s mental wellbeing

A Plaid Cymru Government would establish Wales-wide hubs to provide mental health support for young people, Member of the Senedd for Ynys Môn Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, Shadow Health Minister has said.

The hubs would offer early intervention for young people who are not ill enough to require advanced psychiatric treatment, yet require support for their mental health. They would offer pre-arranged counselling and could deal with emergencies and other walk-ins.

Mr ap Iorwerth said that the “one stop shop” Hubs would “revolutionise” the way young people access support for their mental health, and, in being linked to other health services, would help join up an “increasingly fragmented service”.

The fully costed scheme mirrors a similar concept that has been launched in New Zealand, with the town-centre locations offering services by physicians, nurses, counsellors, social workers and youth staff.

A new study by Swansea and Cardiff Universities shows that Wales faces a wave of mental health problems in the wake of Covid-19, with younger adults, women and people from deprived areas suffering the most.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said,

“With young people being increasingly affected by Covid restrictions and self-isolation requirements, and waiting times for non-Covid services ever lengthening, we don’t really know how many young people might currently be in need of mental health support.

“The changes needed in terms of services that are available, and access to them, should be nothing short of revolutionary. Plaid’s one-stop shop hubs will be a key part of that transformation of services for young people.

“The focus will be on mental health and wellbeing. These hubs would offer counselling both by appointment but also – crucially – on a walk-in basis. We already have walk-in services for physical problems in our A&E departments, so it’s only right that there should be walk-in services for those experiencing mental health problems.

“No young person should be left feeling like they have no support, especially following one of the biggest periods of upheaval in living memory. Left unchecked, poor mental health in childhood and adolescence is linked to mental health problems in adulthood, and so it’s really important to make early interventions easy accessible to any young person that needs them.”

ENDS

WE NEED TO WAKE UP TO THE CRISIS IN OUR HOSPITALS

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS renews calls for ‘Green’ COVID-free hospitals

Responding to the news that there were nearly 200 cases of hospital-acquired coronavirus cases in the last week, Member of the Senedd for Ynys Môn and Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“If we were ever in doubt about the severe strain Wales’ health service is under as a result of the pandemic, today is another wake-up call. After the emerging of the seven-fold increase in waiting lists, and a Macmillan report showing deeply concerning backlogs to cancer services, we now find out that nearly 200 patients have contracted Coronavirus in our hospitals in the last week.

“People must have confidence that Government is doing all it can to urgently provide ‘Green’ COVID-free, or ‘COVID-light’ sites for diagnosis and treatment. And given how quickly the virus can spread when it gets into health and care settings, they must have confidence also in steps taken to keep the virus out in the first place. I don’t want people who may need treatment deciding to stay away, shoring up more serious problems for themselves and the health service.”

ENDS

“Plan further ahead” Rhun ap Iorwerth urges Welsh Government as changes to lockdown rules in Wales announced

The Welsh Government should “plan further ahead” on easing restrictions, Rhun ap Iorwerth has said.

The Welsh Government today announced further changes to lockdown laws in Wales.

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said people and businesses needed a longer term view than “two and three week block” and suggested a “phased approach” as seen in other countries – with caveats that things can change.

The Shadow Health Minister repeated his call for Welsh Government to move “as fast possible” whilst “challenging and testing its evidence” in the safest way.

Mr ap Iorwerth stressed the need not to “compromise on health”.

First minister Mark Drakeford confirmed today that there would be a cautious go ahead to trips to tourist attractions from 6 July, and for booking for self-contained accommodation from 13 July.

He also confirmed that the Wales’ travel restrictions could be lifted from 6 July so people can “travel as far as they like for all purposes,” the first minister Mark Drakeford has said.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said,

“Whilst it’s good that we’re moving in the right direction in terms of lifting restrictions and that Government feels it is safe to do.

“However I still urge Government to plan further ahead. We’re moving in a two and three week blocks here. People and businesses need to have a longer term view, a kind of phased approach as seen in other countries, with dates set for likely changes – but obviously with caveats that things can change, depending on outbreaks and the R rate.

“I repeat my call for Government to move as fast as possible, continuously challenging and testing its evidence in a transparent manner, but in the safest possible way too – we can’t compromise on health, and the outbreak in my constituency reminds us of that.”

“Welsh Government messaging so far has been a whisper, now they need to shout” – Rhun ap Iorwerth

Plaid Cymru’s MS for Ynys Mon, Rhun ap Iorwerth, has called on the Welsh Government to “ramp up” its communications output to ensure that there is “no confusion” between lockdown measures operational in Wales and those announced for England.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all announced they would be sticking to the ‘Stay At Home’ messaging for another three weeks with three minor adjustments on the easing of restrictions.

However, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statement yesterday outlined different guidance and messaging for England which included easing of travel and leisure restrictions and permitting people to travel any distance to exercise.

Mr ap Iorwerth said there was widespread concern that due to a media deficit and confused messaging a lack of clarity on where those rules apply could threaten public health in Wales.

Plaid Cymru MS and Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth said it was the Welsh Government’s responsibility that any confusion in messaging is tackled at once to ensure that public health in Wales in not put at risk.

Mr ap Iorwerth urged the Welsh Government to ramp up communication with the public, investing in digital and print media – both local and on a UK-wide basis, to ensure the message is received.

Mr ap Iorwerth said progress in lowering community transmission should not be reversed by “confusing messaging”.

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

“In order to address the confusion and clarify the difference between Welsh and English lockdown measures, the Welsh Government must urgently ramp up their communications. This could include increasing advertising in both local, national and London based print press and massively boosting their social media advertising.”

“The Welsh Government should also reconsider the timing of their daily press conferences and their current reach. Perhaps by moving the conferences closer to the UK Government’s announcement, there would be more engagement with the Welsh public and less confusion over which rules apply to whom.”

“Our progress in lowering community transmissions should not be allowed to be undermined by confusing messaging from the Westminster Government and a lack of communication from the Welsh Government.”

“The Welsh Government’s messaging so far has been a whisper, now they need to shout.”

Confirmed that Westminster gazumped Wales’s Covid-19 testing deal with Roche, says Rhun ap Iorwerth

Scrutiny from Plaid Cymru MS for Ynys Mon Rhun ap Iorwerth meant that Public Health Wales has finally confirmed the reason behind the Roche deal collapse: the Westminster Government gazumped the 5,000 daily tests that Welsh Government negotiated for the benefit of the Welsh public.

Chief Executive of Public Health Wales Tracey Cooper confirmed during today’s Senedd Health Committee that the Roche deal collapsed because of Westminster Government interference after questions from Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS.

Ms Cooper also said Public Health Wales was not aware of the 9,000 daily testing target set by Welsh Government.

Mr ap Iorwerth said the revelation raised “serious and fundamental questions” about how the Westminster government “views” Wales.

Mr ap Iorwerth said the so called four-nations approach had once again put Wales at the “back of the queue” when it comes to Westminster’s priorities.

By the end of April, Welsh Government had promised 5,000 tests per day, rising to 9,000 by mid-May. Yet Wales still has days where only 900 tests a day are carried out – well below the 9,000 target set out by the Welsh Government.

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

“Public Health Wales’ confirmation today that the UK Government did step in to take 5,000 tests a day off Wales and to subsume them into the general testing pool raises serious and fundamental questions about how UK Government views Wales. What we’ve seeing is the gazumping of a deal negotiated for the benefit of the Welsh public, and Labour Ministers were too weak to stand up to UK Government.

“Once again, the four-nations approach puts Wales at the back of the queue. Wales needs to stand up for itself, and it is clear that we’re unable to do this under a party that consistently kowtows to Westminster.

“Now we still have days where fewer than 1,000 a day are tested, compared with the 9000 target promised by the Welsh Government. In a separate twist to a remarkable Health Committee meeting, the startling admission to me by Public Health Wales’s Chief Executive that she wasn’t aware of the 9,000 a day target also begs the question, what on earth is going on with Welsh Government’s handling of this crisis?”

Health Minister Vaughan Gething “turning down science-based advice” on testing says Rhun ap Iorwerth

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS has criticised Health Minister Vaughan Gething for playing down projections in a leaked report for the numbers of tests Wales will need to track and trace coronavirus.

Speaking in the Welsh Government Press Conference today, Vaughan Gething said the numbers in the leaked Public Health Wales report were not “final” and it was “not the confirmed national plan”.

However, Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS accused the Health Minister for “rejecting the evidence” presented to him.

Mr ap Iorwerth said the Minister was turning down science-based advice.

The Shadow Health Minister said the Welsh Government should set its sights on reaching 30,000 tests a day as outlined in the report – rather than “putting obstacles in the way”.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said,

“Having asked experts to advise on a comprehensive test, track and isolate policy is the Minister now rejecting the evidence they’ve presented to him?

“The Minister can’t argue on the one hand that he is guided by the science while on the other turning down the science-based advice.

“If it’s been identified – as I believe is correct – that we’ll need something 30,000 tests a day, then we should be setting sight on reaching that, not putting obstacles in the way. ”

Ynys Mon AM urges UK and Welsh Governments to provide sustained support for tourism sector

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Ynys Mon Rhun ap Iorwerth has written urgently to UK Government Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Welsh Government Finance Minister Rebecca Evans asking them to commit to continued support for the island’s vital tourism sector long after lockdown is ended, in order to enable the sector to survive into the new year.

At present, businesses and employees across Wales can access Welsh and UK Government schemes for financial support, but there are concerns that the short-term support will not be enough to cover the costs of vital business that has been lost over the course of the lockdown – which is normally one of the busiest times for the island’s booming tourism industry.

This has led to the Plaid Cymru AM writing to the UK and Welsh Governments requesting further financial support for the sector as it struggles through this unprecedented time.

Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“Tourism plays an integral part in the economy of Ynys Môn, and of Wales as a whole, and I am thankful to those businesses who have temporarily closed their doors in the interest of public health and the need to protect our limited resources.

“Whilst urging visitors to stay at their primary residences for the time being, we look forward to welcoming them back once this crisis has passed, and for that to happen, we need to provide the industry with the support it needs to survive during this unprecedented time.

“I am inundated by correspondence from businesses seeking financial assistance, and whilst many are able to furlough staff through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and access support for the self-employed, many businesses dependent on tourism have brought some issues to my attention.

“Given that the industry will have lost such a significant proportion of its business for 2020, I have asked UK and Welsh Government for a commitment to continue support for affected businesses and employees way beyond the end of lockdown, in order to take the sector through to 2021, and look forward to receiving an urgent response regarding this very important matter.”

Issue Guidance on Face Masks in Public, says Rhun ap Iorwerth

The Welsh Government should issue guidance on the use of face masks when out in public, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth AM has said.

The Scottish government today recommended people cover their faces while in some enclosed public spaces – such as shops and public transport.

Stressing the need for the public to continue to stay at home to save lives, Mr ap Iorwerth said that in cases where being in enclosed spaces was unavoidable, such as in shops or on public transport, people need to know exacly how best to protect themselves.

The Shadow Health Minister said there was evidence that face coverings could help “reduce the risk of transmission between asymptomatic carriers”.

Mr ap Iorwerth added that we couldn’t relax restrictions before we are confident Governments are “taking the correct approach to protect the public”.

Downing Street say UK ministers were considering the scientific evidence for introducing similar advice.

Face masks are to become compulsory on public transport in Germany, and in supermarkets and pharmacies in Austria whilst residents in Lombardy in Italy must cover their nose and mouth when outside. The French government also plans to give out masks to the general public.

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said,

“The kind of evidence presented by the Scottish Government on the wearing of face masks in enclosed public spaces will be available to Welsh Government too.

“People must continue to stay home to save lives and stick to the current restrictions and guidelines. There will, however, be times where that is impossible – when people are forced to enter an enclosed space such as shops or public transport.

“In those instances, the Welsh Government needs to be clear on the use face coverings to protect those around them – not surgical grade masks but coverings that could help reduce the risk of transmission between asymptomatic carriers. I’m seeing growing evidence that they CAN be beneficial, and would support guidance to that effect.

“We can’t even talk about relaxing restrictions before we are confident Governments are taking the correct approach to protect the public – that includes testing, tracing and isolating and issuing the most sensible guidance when it comes to face coverings.”