BMA welcomes launch of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry and says lessons must be learnt swiftly to prevent future pandemics

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: UK
Published: Thursday 21 July 2022

Responding to the launch of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry, Dr Emma Runswick, deputy chair of BMA council, said:

“We welcome Baroness Hallett’s determination to gather a wide range of evidence and pursue the truth about the UK Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. The families of the more than 200,000 people who have lost their lives to Covid-19, as well as the healthcare workers who have spent more than two years working in the most harrowing conditions, deserve answers. The nation also needs assurances from the Government that they will take the findings on board to prevent tragedy on this level in the future.

“The BMA will be forthright in representing doctors as the inquiry gathers its evidence and we have already started work by publishing a series of reports on the nation’s response to the pandemic1. These reports show beyond doubt that the UK Government has failed in its duty of care to the workforce; through the shortages of PPE and protection for healthcare workers, the disproportionate impact on those from ethnic minority communities, the harrowing rates of burnout and exhaustion, and the lack of preparation for a pandemic.

“It is positive to hear Baroness Hallett confirm that the inquiry will publish reports with analysis, findings, and recommendations whilst its investigations are ongoing. We cannot afford further delay in understanding the UK Government’s response to the pandemic. The BMA would welcome evidence that the UK Government has learnt lessons. The Government continues to make errors such as withdrawing special Covid leave for NHS staff, dialling back protections in healthcare settings, and failing to plan for the NHS workforce. We are concerned that alongside ongoing mismanagement of this pandemic, there is still no plan for how to manage the next pandemic or health crisis. We hope that the inquiry’s approach will prompt leaders to improve the nation’s preparedness and response to current and future health crises.

 “As the inquiry begins its work, we are preparing to publish two further reports detailing the effectiveness of the Government’s public health response to the pandemic, and the impact of the pandemic on population health and inequalities. We look forward to publishing this evidence and presenting our findings to the public inquiry in due course.”

Ends 

Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. The BMA has undertaken one of the largest, most detailed analyses of doctors’ views and experiences of the pandemic ahead of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry. The Association has to date published three reports that reveal the experiences of those working in the medical profession during the pandemic, which can be accessed here.