A NUMBER of people and groups from across Wales are calling for an independent inquiry into the Welsh Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic – believing that a UK-wide probe would not provide the appropriate level of scrutiny.

The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru campaign group is calling for the Welsh Government to start a Wales-specific statutory public inquiry.

They have said that, given policy in a number of areas during the pandemic around issues such as lockdown regulations and mask wearing differed across the seperate nations of the union, they fear a UK-wide inquiry would not look in sufficient details into the situation in Wales and decisions made by the Welsh Government.

In a group statement, they said: “The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru group has been set up for those families bereaved by decisions taken by the Welsh government before and during the Covid-19 pandemic in Wales.

“We are calling on the Welsh Government to start an immediate Wales-specific statutory public inquiry. They deserve to be properly scrutinised - not a footnote in a UK Government inquiry.

“Many of our loved ones acquired Covid-19 whilst in hospital during the second wave. Many then sent home without being retested; spreading infection into the community and subsequently dying.

“In hospitals and care homes PPE was lacking, staff not tested unless symptomatic, ventilation poor and infected patients were knowingly put on non-Covid wards and their movement not restricted.

“Many were not treated with care and dignity. Many had DNRs (Do Not Resuscitate orders) placed without consultation with their next of kin. Communication was poor or non-existent. Loved ones died confused and alone. Lessons most definitely have not been learnt. 

“Responses to our serious concerns regarding their care and subsequent death have been significantly delayed, inaccurate, contradictory or non- existent. This process is woefully inadequate and needs changing. 

“A Wales-specific inquiry would provide an independent review to investigate if deaths in Wales could have been prevented.

“As the first minister has clearly pointed out throughout the pandemic, decisions in relation to the rules surrounding Covid-19 in Wales are made in Wales. He has been keen to highlight the often-significant differences of those rules between England and Wales.

“Decisions taken in Wales, which have had an impact on the people of Wales should therefore be scrutinised in Wales.”


South Wales Argus: Alex Price with her mum Sharon JonesAlex Price with her mum Sharon Jones

Alex Price (right) from Ebbw Vale is just one of the 150 people who has joined the call for an independent Wales inquiry. Her mum Sharon Jones (left) died in December – just three months after walking her daughter down the aisle.

Mrs Price’s mum was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer five years ago. While uncurable, it was treatable which would allow Ms Jones to live as normal a life as possible as long as she received her treatment.

“When the pandemic came, mum was immediately made aware by her consultant that the medication she was on meant that she is extremely high risk, and she should protect herself at all costs – which she did," said Mrs Price.

“None of us thought that three months after she walked me down the aisle that we would be planning her funeral.

“She was feeling more tired than usual and ended up being taken to hospital due to hypercalciuma – where there was too much calcium in her bones, which can cause problems including confusion, dehydration and severe exhaustion.

“I took her down to Nevill Hall A&E and I wanted reassurances that she would be on a green ward because of how high risk she was.”

Mrs Price said she was told her mum would be on a 'green' ward - a ward free of Covid - and would be in great hands. She left the hospital feeling happy that her mum would be safe and was able to visit her on the ward. After a few days her mum began to improve.

Then Mrs Price received a shock. She said: “One day as I was leaving the ward, I noticed the doors were closed whereas usually, they were open. To my shock, there was a huge sign saying, ‘Stop do not enter this ward is amber.’"

An 'amber' ward is one with suspected cases of Covid.

“I had not seen this before as it was on the back of the door and the doors were usually left open. I had spoken to nurses multiple times on the ward and assured many times that she was safe," said Mrs Price.

The hospital were ready to discharge Ms Jones and did a Covid test prior to discharge as they were using a hospital transfer - which came back positive.

“Initially, they wanted to move her to a Covid ward, but I had challenged them on if they would treat her," said Mrs Price. "Her consultant told me they wouldn’t even try to help her if she had symptoms.

“She wasn’t even given a chance. At 49, they wrote her off because she had cancer, her life didn’t matter.

“In that moment I told them they would not take her to a covid ward to die, I was going to take her home and I did.

“The worst thing about all of it was when my mum spoke to them, she asked if she got unwell, she could go back, and they said yes. They completely lied to her that they would help her if she became unwell with symptoms.

“She had no idea she was going to die because she believed the hospital had her best interests at heart and would help her.”

Mrs Price happened to see an article about a man who died in Nevill Hall under similar circumstances and reached out to his daughter. She introduced her to the group.

“Since losing my mum I finally feel like I’ve found my voice again and it’s the group that’s given me that,” she said.

The group want the inquiry in Wales to provide answers that they have been failing to get from the hospitals and health board trusts. They want an inquiry to provide a look directly on Wales’ response and not just be a part of a larger inquiry.

Mrs Price said: “I want a Welsh inquiry because Wales’ health boards were run so differently from England, and I also know that a UK inquiry would just address the main big hospitals and the smaller community hospitals won’t even be looked at and so many people will be forgotten.

“A UK inquiry won’t benefit the people of Wales and will mainly focus on England, and we deserve to know why this happened in the place they were supposed to be safe and not come out dead.

“I hope we will get answer but most of all I want accountability, sympathy and an apology. None of this was given to me during my mum’s passing and many others have experienced the same.

“There is no support for family members who lost their family in such traumatic, devastating circumstances, we are just left with a funeral bill and a gaping hole in our hearts

“We deserve to be heard; we are the voices of those who cannot be heard anymore.”

A spokesperson for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said: “Our thoughts remain with the family of Mrs Jones. It would be inappropriate for us to comment on individual cases, however we would ask the family to contact us directly so that we can help support them and discuss any concerns regarding our services.”

South Wales Argus: Robert WilliamsRobert Williams

Vicky Williams is another who has joined the call. Her dad Robert (above) died on January 24 after being diagnosed with Covid on December 14.

He was taken to hospital on December 19 after a week of not eating and feeling weak and calls to 111 and 999.

When a paramedic arrived, he was told he had a serious infection and had to go to hospital. He was taken to the Grange University Hospital and was put into intensive care where he was given oxygen and was later put onto a CPAP machine.

“They told us he was type one diabetic,” said Ms Williams. “For the six weeks he was in, the doctors and nurses made comments that he should have been isolating since March because of this. But dad never was a diabetic and I think we would have known if he was a type 1.

“The week was so hard not knowing what was going on and not being able to see him was the worst.

“He would FaceTime us and sent me the odd text and photos of the machine he was on and ask if he was getting better.

“On December 22, dad sent me a text saying ‘I won’t be home for Christmas, look after mam Vic.’ I told him of course I would, and I will always hold that promise.

“Christmas Eve came and then Christmas Day. We didn’t hear from dad all day and we had dinner at my house. We didn’t do presents as we were waiting for him to come home.

“That night the nurse took dad off the CPAP machine so he could FaceTime us. It was the best Christmas present ever.

“Days passed and dad wasn’t getting any better, and with the wards becoming busier, we felt he did not have the correct care.”

Ms Williams said that he was then put on a ventilator on Boxing Day for an MRI scan. He started to have issues with his catheter while asleep and was bleeding. The nurses said he was okay and they would flush it.

“They then woke dad up two weeks later with a plan to do a tracheotomy but as he was improving, they no longer felt this was necessary,” she said.

“Dad was on the mend, he was having physio and the plan was to move him onto the ward the following day. Then things changed and he went downhill.

“They put him back to sleep and a week later, they tried to wake him but it failed. They told us he was choking.

“That night they called us to say they thought his kidneys were failing and they would give us an update the following day. None of us slept that night waiting for a phone call.

“The next day we rang and they couldn’t tell us anything and that the consultant would call us. When he did, his words were ‘I’m sorry but Robert is dying.’”

Ms Williams, her brothers and their mum went to say their goodbyes.

She said: “Knowing that I will never have my dad to give me away at my wedding breaks my heart every day. Knowing that my younger brothers have to deal with growing up without their dad, knowing that my mam will now be on her own.

“Nobody should have to go through this. Dad was a fit and healthy 56-year-old with his life ahead of him. He worked throughout the pandemic as a lorry driver delivering furniture.”

Ms Williams believes that the Welsh public needs answers and this is why there should be a Welsh inquiry. “We need answers to why the government did not close us down early enough and let people fly in from other countries.

“Eat out to Help Out? Looking back it makes me feel angry that the government were encouraging people to get together when the virus was still spreading and killing innocent people.

“We want a separate inquiry as Wales is its own government and made its own rules. How can we have a general inquiry when Wales did a lot of things so differently.

“Wales had the highest death rate in the second wave – why? Masks were delayed in Wales by two months – why?

“If we don’t have an inquiry, how can the government learn from their mistakes and stop other people losing their lives? We feel that many lives could have been saved.

“The inquiry will not bring back our loved ones, but I feel we are entitled to answers.

“It’s so hard to complain and get answers, so hopefully a Wales inquiry will give us the opportunity to get these answers.”

The group stress that they are not political, and confirm that they would be calling for a Wales-specific inquiry whoever was in charge.


It is not just bereaved families that are calling for the inquiry. The Institute of Welsh Affairs published an article detailing the non-emotional and political reasoning behind why an inquiry should be carried out.

The article – written by Andy Regan - mentions questions that should be asked including “what did the Welsh Government know and not know at any given time?”, “What should it have known but didn’t?” and “What different, better decisions could it have made based on what it knew?”

The article concludes that the best way to find the answers to these questions is for a Wales-focussed inquiry. To find the answers to the first two questions asked, would mean looking in detail at every cabinet meeting in the Welsh Government decisions and what papers were presented to them and what was not presented and why.

There are, however, areas where a Wales-focussed inquiry may not be effective – or reasons which would make the inquiry less-effective.

The article discusses that there could be some issues with powers when it comes to the Welsh inquiry effectively sharing potentially confidential data between the UK and Welsh Governments, with a question around whether the Welsh Government has the power to effectively investigate the issues, and pursue any avenues of inquiry that could emerge.

There is also the question of where the inquiry would get its remit, mandate and powers from. It is unclear if a statutory independent inquiry by Welsh ministers would be able to compel evidence or testimony from non-devolved bodies.

Mr Regan writes that voluntary co-operation from the UK Government may be unlikely. He also highlighted that a number of key decisions that impacted the Covid-19 pandemic in Wales are not devolved – however, there are many that are.

This, he claims, would mean it would be unlikely in the UK inquiry that the devolved aspects would be given sufficient attention.

The belief that the inquiry for Wales could lead to accountability and policy change is a strong possibility, but Mr Regan believes that due to the issues with what is and isn’t devolved and the potential lack of co-operation from the UK Government could hinder a Welsh inquiry from being fully effective at answering all the questions it needs to.

Since speaking to the Argus, the group have confirmed that Mark Drakeford has agreed to meet with a small number of them.

There is also a petition which can be signed to join the call for the independent inquiry here: https://petitions.senedd.wales/petitions/244942