By Sam Rowlands

MS for North Wales

Since COVID-19 struck, the world has been thrown into disarray with over 380,000 people tested positive for COVID-19 in Wales, and over 8,000 people having sadly died in Wales since this terrible pandemic began.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many people from all walks of life have gone above and beyond, fighting against the pandemic, protecting those in need, carrying on with everyday responsibilities, the response has been exceptional.

Thankfully, the UK has one of the best vaccination programmes in fighting COVID-19. It is without doubt that this has saved many lives and allowed people to carry on now, as close to normal as possible.

Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that in Wales health is devolved. This means that the COVID-19 response in Wales has been led directly by the Labour Cardiff Bay Government.

It is striking that Wales has seen the worst COVID-19 death rate in the whole of the United Kingdom and with power and responsibility comes scrutiny, yet here in Wales, the Labour Government in Cardiff are refusing to hold a COVID-19 inquiry.

This is despite throughout the pandemic, Labour Minister’s choosing to do things differently in Wales than the rest of the United Kingdom.

Since May’s Senedd election, we as Welsh Conservatives have called for a Wales-specific COVID-19 inquiry, yet Mark Drakeford and his Government are reluctant to hold an inquiry to scrutinise their actions. Meanwhile, the UK Government in Westminster will subject themselves to an investigation with UK-wide reach and Nicola Sturgeon has commissioned an inquiry to look at her administration’s actions in Scotland.

Decisions taken by the Welsh Government should be scrutinised here in Wales.

Now is the time for Mr Drakeford to establish an independent inquiry into the decisions taken by his Government and Welsh public bodies before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.