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Welsh MPs express concern over lack of food deliveries for most vulnerable in letter to First Minister

Many people who have been told to shield can only access food supplies via online shopping. Credit: PA Images

Welsh Conservative MPs have written to the First Minister expressing concern over the lack of access to food supplies experienced by vulnerable people during the coronavirus crisis.

More than 80,000 'extremely vulnerable' people in Wales received letters from NHS Wales asking them to undertake shielding measures.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Vaughan Gething said ministers, supermarkets and wholesale suppliers were in talks to give priority access to shielded people.

But 12 MPs told Mark Drakeford constituents are still struggling to access food supplies through online supermarket deliveries.

As MPs here in Wales we have been inundated with worried constituents who cannot gain delivery slots for the provision of food and basic necessities. We are sure that you will agree that this is unacceptable.

The experience of constituents and our subsequent conversations with supermarkets suggest that a solution is yet to be found.

– Twelve Welsh Conservative MPs
Supermarkets' online systems for booking deliveries have been overwhelmed.

Around 1.5 million people in England were also identified as highly vulnerable and warned to stay at home for 12 weeks.

Welsh MPs have argued that "the version received by individuals across the border facilitates priority access to supermarkets."

They added: "These policy areas are devolved to the Welsh Government, so it would be helpful if you were able to advise why this provision was not included here in Wales."

My cabinet colleague, Lesley Griffiths, has led on our conversations with supermarkets and wholesale suppliers to agree both supply and delivery for this group of shielded people in a very short period of time.

Julie James, as you would expect, is in daily contact with our local authorities. And I really am tremendously grateful to the local government family for the way that they have responded to both lead and co-ordinate community efforts to support people in their own homes.

– Vaughan Gething AM, Health Minister speaking on Wednesday
The first food boxes were delivered to the doorsteps of people adopting strict shielding measures on Friday. Credit: Welsh Government

The Welsh Government has promised to provide support to those shielding who cannot get help from family members, friends or neighbours.

The first of weekly food boxes were delivered on Friday, containing enough essential foods in packages and tins for one person who is shielding for one week.

The Welsh Government said it is working with supermarkets to find a ''simpler and secure'' scheme to provide priority deliveries for those people who have received a letter from the Chief Medical Officer asking them to adopt shielding measures for 12 weeks.

We have also introduced a scheme to provide a free weekly food parcels to those people who are shielding but do not have any support from friends, family or other local networks. Details about how to register for this free food parcel are set out in the letter from the Chief Medical Officer.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

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