Two and a half years after the arrival of the COVID-19 virus in the UK, a wide-ranging public inquiry has opened into the Government’s handling of the crisis. The inquiry chair, retired High Court judge Baroness Hallett, made a pledge to conclude matters as ‘speedily as possible so lessons are learned before another pandemic strikes’.
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‘Every person has had their life changed to some extent,’ she said. ‘Those who have suffered the most will want to know if any more could have been done to reduce their suffering.’The three key topics for the inquiry are
- How prepared the UK was for a pandemic
- The urgency of the Government’s response
- The scientific rationale behind lockdown and other social distancing measures
The inquiry is expected to start taking evidence from scientists in September, and begin questioning ministers in Spring 2023.
The official start of the inquiry was welcomed by health leaders. ‘Baroness Hallett’s commitment to place inequalities and the voices of those not often heard at the heart of the inquiry will be appreciated by nursing staff, who too often felt invisible during the pandemic,’ said Pat Cullen, General Secretary of the RCN
“The inquiry must take stock of the damage that the pandemic has done to our health and care services and look ahead to ensure nursing staff are never left unprotected again.”