Access to Priority Shopping

Column in the Barry & District News by Alun Cairns MP:

Last week a letter was sent out by the NHS to people across Wales who have been identified as being at high risk of severe illness if they contract Covid-19, due to underlying health conditions.

The purpose of this was to add them to the shielding group. The letter recommends that they stay at home at all times and avoid all face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks. This group is entitled to additional help and support throughout this crisis.

Unfortunately, many vulnerable constituents who fall into this category have raised significant concerns in relation to the lack of access to food supplies through supermarkets in Wales. At this incredibly difficult time, access to food deliveries is hugely important, particularly for the most vulnerable people. 

NHS England are running a very similar initiative. However, the version of the letter received by individuals across the boarder provided special code to facilitate priority access to supermarkets. As many will have experienced, there are long waiting times for deliveries and a priority service will be vital to the most vulnerable, who are unable to leave their homes.

I share the widespread frustration that the Welsh Government has not followed the UK Government’s lead and I’m extremely concerned about the impact this will have on people in Barry, the Vale and across Wales. That’s why I have written to the First Minister to raise it with him directly. I encouraged MP colleagues to join me in challenging this issue and they have added their names to my letter. 

As I write this, I am awaiting a response from the First Minister. I hope, for all those who desperately need access to food supplies and basic necessities, that he will present a solution which will provide assurance to vulnerable people across Wales.