NHS Providers responds to joint committee report on lessons learnt from COVID-19

12 October 2021

Responding to the health and social care committee's, and science and technology committee's joint report on the lessons learnt from the UK's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said:

"Trust leaders will welcome MPs' recognition of the NHS' 'remarkable achievements' during what has undoubtedly been the most challenging period in the health service's 73-year history.

"Time and again, the NHS proved it could deliver. From expanding ventilator and intensive care capacity, to establishing the Nightingale hospitals, rolling out the lifesaving vaccination programme and ensuring most COVID-19 patients who needed care received it, the NHS repeatedly rose to the challenge and was never overwhelmed.

"In particular, we pay tribute to our dedicated NHS staff who worked tirelessly to provide care in the most challenging of circumstances, often putting themselves at great personal risk.

But as this report so clearly states, there is much to learn from our response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a nation.

Saffron Cordery    Deputy Chief Executive

"But as this report so clearly states, there is much to learn from our response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a nation.

"While there is much the NHS did well during the pandemic, we know the service was initially ill-prepared for a pandemic, and there were areas, such as access to PPE and testing, where trusts did not get the support they needed from central government quickly enough.

"A lack of coherent national policy making to protect social care and care homes, the speed with which social distancing measures were adopted and later lifted by government, and the performance of the Test and Trace system, have all understandably come under criticism.

The consequences of those decisions have left a devastating legacy.

Saffron Cordery    Deputy Chief Executive

"The consequences of those decisions have left a devastating legacy: over 150,000 deaths linked to COVID-19 across the UK with a tragic and disproportionate impact on health and care staff from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, and the exposure of deep social, economic and health inequalities for Black, Asian and minority communities, which will take years to address.

"So as we look to the start of the public inquiry in Spring 2022, it is vital that it explores the full range of challenges created by COVID-19 including whether the country could have been better prepared, and whether the government took the right decisions at the right time to protect the public and the NHS. And we do not have to wait for the inquiry to report to learn the lessons and act on them.

"The families of those who died deserve nothing less."

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