James Evans has accused Vaughan Gething of ‘arrogance and complacency’ after ministers admitted failings over Wales’ planning for a pandemic.
During the ongoing UK Covid Inquiry, former health minister Vaughan Gething said Wales was not prepared enough to cope with excess deaths, and that existing plans for pandemic flu would have also left Wales vulnerable.
First Minster Mark Drakeford also admitted that the Welsh Government was "not as prepared as it could have been".
In another revelation this week, Mr Gething told the committee's barristers that he had not read key documents looking at civil emergencies and pandemic flu, until he prepared for the inquiry. He said he had not read the results of a key investigation, called Exercise Cygnus, into the UK's response to a major pandemic while he was health minister.
Exercise Cygnus was a cross-government exercise to test the UK’s response to a serious influenza pandemic that took place over three days in October 2016 and involved more than 950 people.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) (known as the Department of Health at the time) and 12 other government departments, as well as NHS Wales, NHS England (NHSE), Public Health England (PHE), local public services, several prisons, and staff from the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments took part in the exercise.
The aim was to test systems to the extreme, to identify strengths and weaknesses in the UK’s response plans, which would then inform improvements.
Brecon and Radnorshire MS James Evans said the findings of the inquiry were “damning”. He said that the First Minister and Mr Gething should be giving evidence in Wales, not London, and be held accountable to the Welsh media and “families who want answers on the decisions taken by the Welsh Labour Government.”
Mr Evans said: "What’s been shown today is a level of arrogance and complacency from former health minister Vaughan Gething, who admitted to not reading some of the most basic frameworks which could have aided in saving unprecedented levels of excess deaths in Wales.
“Let there be no doubt, the failings found today go beyond the public’s expectations of some small inadequacies and brings into question the suitability for Welsh Labour to govern to the standard we should expect after having been in power for almost 25 years.
“To learn that the former Health Minister failed to read documents related to pandemic planning nor the national risk register while in post, summarises the amateur nature of standards upheld by the Welsh Government at the time.”