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Covid inquiry ‘marginalising’ bereaved on first day of hearing

Bereaved families fear their experiences will be “diluted” in the UK Covid-19 Inquiry after it was confirmed their evidence would be submitted to a third-party company.

Instead of the usual “pen portraits” heard in the inquiry, families will submit their evidence to a private research company as part of a parallel listening exercise that will analyse the responses and feed back the findings to the inquiry chaired by Baroness Heather Hallett.

Matt Fowler, co-founder of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign, said while families believe the start of the inquiry is a step in the right direction after campaigning for two years, they fear being excluded from the inquiry because of the listening exercise.

“All bereaved families want from the inquiry is the same outcome that anyone should, for lessons to be learnt from our loss that can stop the monumental scale of death that took place from happening again,” Matt said following the preliminary hearing. “As Baroness Hallett herself has acknowledged, for that to happen the experiences of the bereaved must be learnt from, so why is she leaving us out in the cold instead of working with us?”

A&E doctor Saleyah Ahsan, from east London, worked in intensive care units during the pandemic. She said she remembers holding hands with people and telling them they needed to be incubated as they desperately called their families – some died in intensive care.

“It is very important that stories jump off the page and are real because they are real,” 

She added: “If we really want to make sure we get this right there is only this inquiry, it has to be right. I am a medic, I see the numbers are rising, it’s autumn. Thankfully we’ve got a booster but hospitals are getting busy – I’m worried.”

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Source: The Independent, 4 October 2022


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