Responding to the publication of Learn Lessons, Save Lives by Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, which the BMA contributed to, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:
“As we’ve set out in this report, doctors and other healthcare workers were left horribly exposed to Covid-19. Government was simply not prepared for the pandemic; it failed to provide sufficient or adequate PPE risking the health and lives of doctors in the course of their duties from a novel, highly contagious virus.
“There were at least 414 deaths involving Covid-19 among healthcare workers between March and December 2020. During this time doctors suffered the emotional turmoil of seeing so many of their friends and colleagues become seriously unwell, on ventilators, with many losing their own lives. There were inadequate risk assessments and protections in place when infection was at its peak and it was troubling to see gross inequalities exacerbated within the health service, with 95% of doctors who lost their lives coming from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background.
“This is why support and protection for NHS staff across hospitals and primary care must form part of a comprehensive public inquiry, and the BMA is carrying out its own work to learn lessons from the medical profession, as we believe it is important for lessons to be learnt now from the pandemic, while memories are fresh.
“The scale of the loss of life across the UK – amongst the highest in the Western world – and the consequent grief to so many families and loved ones should never be allowed to happen again. The Government must take the Learn Lessons, Save Lives report seriously. It is an opportunity to learn from mistakes of the past, and as the NHS faces its toughest winter yet, along with a potentially dangerous new variant, the stakes couldn’t be higher.”
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.