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COVID-19: Public inquiry into pandemic handling called for

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17,000 healthcare staff have died worldwide 17,000 healthcare staff have died worldwide

A major inquiry into the government’s decisions during the COVID-19 has been urged by UNISON.

The call has been made as part of International Workers’ Memorial Day, which remembers those who have died at or because of unsafe workplaces. The pandemic has made this a poignant day for healthcare staff, many of whom have died as a result of COVID-19.

“We must never forget all those workers who've died in the pandemic. They've selflessly put the needs of others ahead of their own. Day in, day out, they've carried on working, helping and caring for our loved ones. It’s beyond tragic so many lives have been lost providing essential services that many people take for granted. The government owes answers to their families and the public in general,’ said UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea.

Read more: ‘Vast majority’ of nursing staff receive first vaccine

‘Only an independent judge-led public inquiry is good enough – and as soon as possible. It must have full power to summon any witnesses, compel evidence to be disclosed and hear testimony under oath. But it also needs to hear the voices of the key workers at the sharp end, to ensure lessons are learned and people are held to account where they’re responsible for failings and negligence.’

Many observed a minute’s silence as part of International Workers Memorial Day to remember all 17,000 healthcare workers around the world who have lost their lives in the last year fighting the pandemic.

Read more: Prime Minister must act on ‘inadequate’ protection of health workers, healthcare leaders say

‘Today also gives us all a moment to reflect on the health and care workers who have lost their lives in the last year,’ said Pat Cullen, Acting General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing.

‘Every life lost to the pandemic is a tragedy and they will all be remembered by family and friends. They all dedicated themselves to those in their care and by taking a minute to remember them will greatly honour their memory.’

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