COVID-19: 'We are relying on FOI's to access key scientific advice'

The Welsh Conservatives’ Shadow Minister for Social Care - Janet Finch-Saunders MS - has today (18 May) spoken of her dismay at the Welsh Government’s reluctance to publish the scientific advice that guided their previous decision against mass COVID-19 care home testing.  

In a written statement on the 14 May, Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething MS said:  

The Welsh Government is committed to openness and transparency, and that includes sharing the information and recommendations that come to Ministers with everyone in Wales. 

Unhappy with the lack of detail over the Welsh Government’s previous decision to not to carry out testing in Welsh care homes, the Member for Aberconwy has filed a Freedom of Information request to ask for a copy of the scientific advice that informed that prior policy direction.  Under the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations, the Welsh Government should aim to provide a response within 20 working days.  

Speaking of the situation, Janet said: 

“The Welsh Health Minister has said that the Welsh Government was committed to openness and transparency. If this is so, why has he not published the scientific advice that guided his previous decision against the mass roll out of testing across Welsh Care homes? 

“Whilst I welcome the Welsh Government’s care home testing U-turn over the weekend, the delay in reaching this decision has jeopardised the safety of residents and staff.  

“Of course, I am acutely aware that the Welsh Government are facing unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is admirable that public officials have been redeployed to help with front-line efforts.

“However, Member’s should not have to rely on Freedom of Information requests to gain access to key scientific advice. To push opposition Members into following this long-winded process is a blatant attempt by the Welsh Government to avoid scrutiny.

"I urge the Welsh Health Minister to abide by his otherwise hollow words, and publish the scientific advice that guided his previous decision.