DURING the coronavirus pandemic Wales gave England more than 10 million items of personal protective equipment, the country’s health minister has revealed.
Mutual aid agreements in place with Westminster, Holyrood and Stormont saw nearly 15 million items of PPE, such as facemasks, gloves, visors and gowns, given to England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Wales had received 1.4 million items of PPE from those countries in return, the Senedd was told.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said the figures showed that inter-government relations had worked well during the Covid-19 crisis but suggested England had “significant challenges in organising themselves”.
“Of the net figure though we’ve actually provided slightly more mutual aid to Scotland and Northern Ireland but significantly more mutual aid to England – we’ve provided more than 10 million items net to England,” Mr Gething said.
The minister was giving evidence to the Senedd’s health, social care and sport committee and Plaid’s Rhun ap Iorwerth suggested it was “odd” the system had turned out to be so imbalanced.
“Rather than it being odd, I think it does show how successful we’ve been relative to other parts of the UK,” Mr Gething said.
“We were glad to help Scotland and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland had short-term issues that we helped them with but they’ve also assisted us and again they’ve very much been a team player and helping other parts of the UK.
“We received mutual aid from Scotland on a range of masks early on and we returned the mutual aid we received as well. It’s always been the case that mutual aid has been returned.
“Really, it’s the English system that has some really significant challenges in organising themselves.
“The system we have in Wales has stood up to the extreme stress and pressure of this pandemic.
“We’ve been able to not just meet Wales’s needs but to help England with some of their challenges.
“When it comes to it, I think that is a success story for Wales. We’ve been able to assist other UK nations without compromising our supply.”
During the lockdown more than 170 million pieces of PPE were provided to health and social care workers in Wales, including being supplied free to care homes.
Last week, a report published by the committee criticised the Welsh Government for limiting the supplies of PPE in care homes to gloves and plastic aprons and recommended the stockpiling of sufficient amount of appropriate PPE for future outbreaks.