More than 600 frontline healthcare workers have lost their lives to COVID-19 trying to protect us and our loved ones. Yet this Government continues to deny the bereaved families the explanations they deserve - because it doesn’t want the political embarrassment of a public inquiry into whether its failures on PPE have contributed to their deaths.
Last week a damning report from the National Audit Office found serious failures in the supply of PPE. The NAO recommended, as we have for months, that: ”a comprehensive lessons learned exercise involving all the main stakeholders, including local government and representatives of the workforce and suppliers should be conducted”, including ”of whether any issues with PPE provision or use might have contributed to Covid-19 infections or deaths.”
With Doctors’ Association UK which represents 29,000 medics and Hourglass, we are now pursuing our legal action against Government for its continued refusal to hold a public inquiry into whether PPE failures contributed to the deaths or illness of NHS staff and careworkers.
Read our letter to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock.
You may recall we first launched our legal proceedings back in May. On 11 June, a week after we filed, the NAO announced it was holding a review into: “the preparedness and response in the supply of PPE in England, including the scale of and reasons for shortfalls in supply”.
In the Health Secretary’s response to our Judicial Review claim, he promised: “emerging findings will be shared with officials in late August or early September, which will allow Government to benefit from its findings as soon as possible.” We, therefore, agreed to pause our challenge until Government had had a chance to reflect on the outcome of the NAO’s review.
The Government has now had the NAO report for some time - it received a draft copy weeks before it was published. Yet Government has this week again refused what we regard as its legal obligation to hold a public inquiry.
Everything - the need the NAO identifies for lessons to be learned and the moral case for bereaved families of frontline healthcare workers to be heard - is being subordinated to Government’s political expediency.
It’s morally deplorable and - we believe - legally wrong. We will pursue them in the courts.
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