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UK Covid inquiry draft terms of reference set out

The draft terms of reference for the UK public inquiry into the government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic have been published.

The inquiry, due to start in the spring, will play a key role in "learning lessons" from the pandemic and for the future, it said. 

The terms of reference were published after a consultation with inquiry chairwoman and former High Court judge Baroness Hallett, and with ministers in the devolved nations.

The Scottish government has already published the terms of reference for its own Covid-19 inquiry, to be led by Judge Lady Poole.

The UK-wide inquiry proposes examining a broad range of issues including:

  • the UK's preparedness for the pandemic
  • the use of lockdowns and other 'non-pharmaceutical' interventions such as social distancing and the use of face coverings
  • the management of the pandemic in hospitals and care homes
  • the procurement and provision of equipment like personal protective equipment and ventilators
  • support for businesses and jobs, including the furlough scheme, as well as benefits and sick pay.

The inquiry aims to produce "a factual, narrative account" covering decision-making at all levels of government and the response of the health and care sector as well as identifying the "lessons to be learned".

Becky Kummer, spokesperson for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said the publication was a "huge step forward" and the organisation looked forward to contributing to the consultation on the terms.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents hospital trusts, said there was much the NHS did well during the pandemic but: "It is right the inquiry looks at areas where there were major challenges - such as infection prevention and control, access to PPE, testing, and robust epidemiological modelling."

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Source: BBC News, 11 March 2022


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