Dominic Raab criticises Welsh Government for ‘abandoning’ 5,000 coronavirus testing target
Dominic Raab has condemned the Welsh Government for “abandoning” its target of 5,000 coronavirus tests a day.
The Foreign Secretary – deputising for Boris Johnson as the PM continues his recovering from Covid-19 – made the comments at Prime Minister’s Questions.
He was speaking following questions from Labour’s new leader Sir Keir Starmer on testing and protection for NHS and care workers.
“I do think it’s important to have a target and to drive towards a target,” Mr Raab replied.
“We are making good progress, we’re confident we’ll meet it, and I think that he should join with me as we engage in this national effort of saying to Labour’s Welsh health minister, Vaughan Gething, who has abandoned the Welsh target in Labour-run Wales of 5,000, that actually we need to work together in all four corners of the United Kingdom to make sure we reach that national effort.
“It is about capacity, it is about distribution. We will only be able to hit that target if all of us come together to deliver on it.”
Wales’s economy minister Ken Skates described Mr Raab’s criticism as “misguided”.
He told Wales’s daily coronavirus briefing: “He’s not right to be critical of Welsh Government and name ministers. This is an enormous effort.
“I do not know a single politician of any party that isn’t putting all of their effort into overcoming coronavirus. He is wrong to make that criticism. He’s wrong to make it in such a public way.
“What Vaughan Gething has announced is absolutely right in ensuring that we prioritise the testing for those people who are at the coalface, those people who are most vulnerable, those people who are saving lives, and Dominic Raab should reflect on that before making other misguided statements.”
The Welsh Government had set a target of 5,000 tests per day by the second or third week of April but this has not been reached.
Daily capacity is at 1,300 per day, with documents setting out the new plan on Monday admitting the 5,000 figure would not be achieved.
On Monday First Minister Mark Drakeford defended scrapping the target, saying he believed it was achievable when it was announced last month and was acting in “good faith”, but had been let down by circumstances “outside our own control”.
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price called the dropping of the target “a scandal”, while Welsh Conservative health spokeswoman Angela Burns accused the Welsh Government of “floundering” and “disorganisation”.
Data published by Public Health Wales shows the number of daily tests has often been well below the 1,300 capacity, with Mr Gething previously admitting the low uptake showed a “visible sign of where something hasn’t worked” before the new testing plan was announced.
Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2020, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Kirsty O’Connor / PA Wire.