An independent public inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic will begin in the spring of next year, the Prime Minister (PM) has announced.
The PM revealed the news in a COVID-19 statement to MPs yesterday May 12, telling the Commons it will be able to take oral evidence under oath and put “the state’s actions under the microscope”.
Since the pandemic broke in March 2020 127,000 people have died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test , with over 150,000 deaths having COVID-19 mentioned on the death certificate.
The PM said that “amid such tragedy the state has an obligation to examine its actions as rigorously and as candidly as possible” and “learn every lesson for the future”.
Given the potential threat of new COVID variants and the possibility of a winter surge, Mr Johnson said he expected the “right moment” for the inquiry to begin is spring 2022.
“This inquiry must be able to look at the events of the last year in the cold light of day and identify the key issues that will make a difference for the future,” he said.
Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement of a statutory public inquiry into the management of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK, the BMA Chair of Council, Dr Chaand Nagpaul said:
“The BMA has long called for a full public inquiry into the decisions that were taken and the mistakes that have been made in the management of this pandemic. It is encouraging that the Prime Minster has said that the inquiry must be rigorous and candid but that should not mean that bereaved families and front line staff have to wait the better part of a year before it gets underway. Whilst it would not be right to distract healthcare staff from their hugely important day to day work, the Government mustn’t use that as an excuse to not get this inquiry underway as soon as is effectively possible.
“Almost one hundred and twenty eight thousand people have lost their lives to the virus and some communities have been impacted far worse than others. Scores of health and social care workers have put their lives at risk every single day, with hundreds who died from the virus and an NHS that was already not coping with demand when the pandemic took hold. We have seen the failures of inadequate PPE provision and supply, the fiasco that was Test and Trace, the lack of proper risk assessment and mitigation, especially for black and ethnic minority staff and the devastation that caused.
“This inquiry needs to be thorough, with no stone unturned. As we have previously made clear, it must also be about lessons being learned so the mistakes made cannot be repeated and the country is better prepared for future pandemics. This inquiry must involve all those who need answers and it needs to start much earlier than the Spring of next year.”