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COVID-19: Public inquiry demands after Cummings testimony

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Many nurses died as a result of the pandemic Many nurses died as a result of the pandemic

The RCN has called for a public inquiry into the Government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, after testimony from Boris Johnson’s former chief aide Dominic Cummings.

Speaking to a joint meeting of the Parliamentary Select Committees on Science and Technology and Health and Social Care, Mr Cummings claimed that the Government was too slow to realise the danger of COVID-19 and too willing to risk thousands to death by refusing to challenge the assumption that the virus could not be stopped. He claimed that Mr Johnson said that he would rather ‘let bodies pile high’ than impose another lockdown in late 2020.

Read more: Nurses’ response to COVID-19 pandemic hailed

‘Failures in planning, decision-making and accountability left nursing staff dangerously short of the protection they needed from the very beginning of the pandemic. But even today, we are continuing our demands for increased protection for health care workers as new variants emerge,’ said RCN Chair of Council, Dave Dawes.

‘Hearing today's proceedings will have been difficult for anyone who has lost a colleague, family member or friend to Covid-19. We believe the formal public inquiry should be expedited as a matter of urgency.’

Read more: Improved PPE for nursing staff needed as Indian variant spreads

Mr Cummings also heavily criticised Matt Hancock, the Health and Social Care Secretary’s role in the pandemic. According to Mr Cummings, Mr Hancock displayed ‘criminal, disgraceful behaviour’ as he held back coronavirus tests and meddled in efforts to build a mass testing system in order to meet a ‘stupid’ pledge of 100,000 tests per day in April 2020. A spokesman for Mr Hancock later said: ‘We absolutely reject Mr Cummings' claims about the health secretary.’

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