Flintshire care home owner’s suicide highlights need for Wales specific Covid public inquiry
North Wales MS has challenged First Minister Mark Drakeford over support for the care home sector in Wales during the pandemic, highlighting a distressing case in which a care home owner in Flintshire killed himself after 12 of his residents died in the first few months of the pandemic
Speaking during a meeting of the Welsh Parliament on Tuesday, Mark Isherwood MS said this case demonstrates why a Wales-specific Covid public inquiry, which he and his Welsh Conservative colleagues have been repeatedly calling for, is necessary.
He said: “On 28 April 2020, the UK Government announced that COVID testing would be extended to all care home staff and residents in England. That was not the case in Wales, with you, First Minister, saying you saw ‘no value’ in providing tests to everybody in care homes at the time.
“That was a pivotal moment for Mr and Mrs Hough, who ran Gwastad Hall nursing home in Cefn-y-Bedd, Flintshire. It was not until 16 May 2020 that your then Health Minister brought in blanket testing for staff and care home residents. Five days later, on 21 May, Mr Hough killed himself.
“Twelve of their residents had died in those first few months of the pandemic. His widow, Mrs Hough, said she believed her husband’s distress at seeing the patients struggling led directly to his death, adding that her husband was ‘a victim of Covid’ and that she wanted the Welsh Government held to account and ‘wants answers’.
The Chief Executive of Care Forum Wales said the issues they encountered were not ‘atypical’.
“How, therefore, do you justify to care sector professionals like Mrs Hough your continued rejection of their call for a Wales-specific Public Inquiry into the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic?”
In his response, the First Minister merely stated: “I do so by reference to my agreement with the Prime Minister, who is the leader of the party that the Member here represents.”
Mr Isherwood added “After the First Minister’s response, I accused him in the Chamber of being ‘Frit”, a term previously used in the UK Parliament both by and against former Prime Ministers, meaning ‘not brave enough to do something; frightened’.”
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