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Covid: Health bosses 'did not discuss data breach with minister'

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image captionThe information was online for 20 hours before being taken down

The Tories have called it "astonishing" that the health minister did not meet senior Public Health Wales (PHW) bosses after a serious Covid-19 data breach.

Details of more than 18,000 people who tested positive were published online by mistake by PHW last month.

PHW chief executive Tracey Cooper said officials briefed Vaughan Gething but there was not "a direct conversation" between him and senior PHW managers.

The Welsh Government said PHW had launched an independent investigation.

Welsh Conservative health spokesman Andrew RT Davies said it was "astonishing that between the time of this data breach and the news going public, Labour's health minister did not instigate a meeting with key figures at PHW".

Giving evidence to the Senedd's health committee on Wednesday, Dr Cooper said that a senior PHW manager kept Welsh Government officials informed about last month's data breach and that Mr Gething had been briefed by a Welsh Government official "as would often normally be the case".

Mr Davies, a member of the committee, asked if the minister had discussed the data breach with Dr Cooper or other members of her senior team.

Dr Cooper said: "I'm sure if the minister had wanted at any time to have a direct conversation obviously he could contact us but we were keeping Welsh Government officials closely involved all the way through to make sure that the minister was updated."

image captionTracey Cooper: "We were keeping Welsh Government officials closely involved all the way through"

Speaking after the session, Mr Davies said: "This was a remarkable admission from Public Health Wales."

"I find it astonishing that between the time of this data breach and the news going public, Labour's health minister did not instigate a meeting with key figures at Public Health Wales to get to the bottom of what went so spectacularly wrong.

"The effectiveness of track and trace is dependent on people having trust in the system and the protection of their data, but the poor handling of this incident by Labour ministers in Cardiff Bay will only to serve to undermine public confidence."

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "Public Health Wales - an independent NHS organisation and the data controller in this case - has issued a full statement about this incident, informed the Information Commissioner and has launched an independent investigation into the data breach."

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