Covid Inquiry: Welsh Government 'sat on their hands', says bereaved daughter

Elizabeth Grant, a founding member of the Covid Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru support and campaign group, speaks at the inquiry Credit: UK Covid-19 Inquiry

A woman whose mother died after contracting Covid in hospital has told the Covid Inquiry in Wales that the Welsh Government "sat on their hands" when they realised the impact of the virus.

The inquiry continued on Wednesday morning with bereaved families giving evidence.

Elizabeth Grant, a founding member of Covid Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru, gave evidence at the inquiry. Her mother died in April 2020 after testing positive for Covid.

Elizabeth's mother had been admitted to hospital after falling and breaking her hip. She had an operation and was then moved to a community hospital.

Elizabeth said she was not aware of the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) at the hospital, and her mother was not tested for Covid on admission or when she was discharged from the previous hospital she was in.

At the time of her mother's death, funerals were limited to 10 people. Elizabeth said no one attended her mother's as they could not decide who would go.

Speaking of the members of the bereavement group, she said: "We have over 400 members and not one person's been offered bereavement support."

Elizabeth, who lived in Bath during the pandemic, said the differences in rules between England and Wales were "tantamount to chaos," adding that "it was very difficult to get, when you were in England, any information of what was happening in Wales."

  • Warning: This video contains content some readers may find upsetting

The UK Government advised the public on 11 May 2020 to consider wearing face masks in enclosed public spaces. Soon after this became mandatory.

It was not until 11 September 2020 that all in Wales were required to wear masks in public indoor spaces.

After watching Tuesday's opening of the inquiry in Wales, Elizabeth said: "It does sound like they were caught with their trousers down and when they realised the impact of the virus on Welsh shores they sat on their hands."

Amanda Provis's mother and grandmother both died of Covid. She told the inquiry that her father, who worked as a hospital porter throughout the pandemic, was provided with "nothing at all" in relation to PPE at the start of the pandemic.

She said he began to show symptoms of Covid at the end of March 2020 and was told to go home from work and self-isolate, and he slept in a separate room to his wife.

Amanda said her mother started to show symptoms a day or so later. She believes her father caught coronavirus at work and passed it on to her mother.

She said her father's PCR test came back positive on 6 April 2020 the same day her mother's symptoms worsened. Her mother died the next day.

Amanda's mother had been advised by a doctor over the phone to use a rescue pack for her pre-existing COPD, which contained antibiotics, an asthma pump and steroids, which she started straight away, the inquiry was told.

She said her mother was not advised to go to hospital at any stage.

The inquiry opened on Tuesday, 27 February and will hear from a range of groups, including representatives of bereaved families, unions, care homes, and the Welsh Government.

On Wednesday it also heard from Professor Debbie Foster, a Cardiff University academic, who was involved in writing a report investigating the impact of the pandemic on disabled people.

Professor Foster told the inquiry that the Welsh Government responded "very slowly" to concerns raised, including access to services, people being neglected and people being at risk of abuse.

Evidence shows disabled people were disproportionately more likely to die of Covid.

She also said "to be quite honest we thought we'd been forgotten completely" while waiting to meet with the Welsh Government after finishing the report, and she felt the report was not published quickly enough by the government.

Welsh Government officials and ministers are due to be questioned by the inquiry from next week.

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