Public inquiry into COVID-19 pandemic vital to help country learn lessons for the future

12 May 2021

Responding to confirmation from the prime minister that a full public inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic will likely start in Spring 2022, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson said:

"Trust leaders will welcome the prime minister's announcement today that a full and independent inquiry will be held into the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. We owe this not just to the families of those who have lost loved ones, but to the NHS and its dedicated staff who have worked tirelessly to provide care in the most challenging of circumstances, often putting themselves at personal risk.

It is vital the inquiry hears first hand from trust leaders and their representatives about their experiences of the pandemic and what lessons can be learnt for the future.

"It is vital the inquiry hears first hand from trust leaders and their representatives about their experiences of the pandemic and what lessons can be learnt for the future. While there is much the NHS did well during the pandemic, we know there are areas, such as access to PPE, testing and robust epidemiological modelling, where trusts did not get the support they needed from central government quickly enough.

"These will need to be considered alongside issues such as the protection provided to social care, the way and speed with which social distancing measures were adopted and relaxed and the reasons why the UK appears to have had higher comparative rates of COVID-19 related mortality compared to other similar nations.

"The inquiry's terms of reference will need to explore the breadth and depth of the 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."

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