Government urged to name date for ‘no holds barred’ coronavirus public inquiry

The Government is being urged to publish a timetable for the holding of a public inquiry into coronavirus and to make sure it reflects the diversity of the UK population.

Groups including the TUC and the Bereaved Families for Justice called for the immediate announcement of a start date for the inquiry, saying it should be no later than April next year.

A date would “help those who have lost most to start to feel that there will be an explanation coming for that loss”, said the groups in a letter to the Prime Minister.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “With reports that Downing Street held a Christmas Party last year while the rest of us followed the rules and did not see close family and friends, we urgently need to get on with a ‘no holds barred’ public inquiry.

“Our key workers – the teachers, nurses and delivery drivers – helped get Britain through the pandemic, but they were let down by the government.

“Years of cuts to public services made it harder to fight the pandemic. Our hospitals and care homes were understaffed and didn’t have proper PPE, and of the UK’s broken sick pay system badly undermined the public health effort.

“We owe it to our key workers and to those who died to take an unflinching look at what went wrong. And to look at how we can be better prepared for pandemics in the future.

“The government must get on with announcing the start date for the inquiry and talking to unions, bereaved families and other stakeholders.”

Jo Goodman, co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, (pictured, centre) said: “We’ve been calling for an inquiry to start for over 18 months so that lessons can be learnt to protect the lives of others. It’s hard to explain how frustrating it is to be facing the Omicron variant having been continually ignored, and knowing that lives could be at risk unnecessarily as a consequence.

“Everybody agrees that this inquiry must be focused on learning the lessons that will save as many lives as possible going forward. That means it must place those who have been most impacted at its heart, which of course includes those who have tragically lost loved ones.

“It must also include regular interim reporting so that lessons can be learnt as it progresses and start as soon as possible, so that more time isn’t wasted.

“Following events of the last few days it’s clear only an inquiry will restore trust and transparency in time to learn lessons and save lives. This inquiry will be the biggest in British history and we simply can’t afford to get it wrong.”

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