The public inquiry into the UK’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact has begun in London.
– Why was the research done?
There has been much criticism of the UK government’s handling of the pandemic, including the fact that the country appeared to lack a comprehensive plan to deal with such a major event.
Other criticism of the government includes discharging elderly people from hospitals into care homes without testing, closing too late in March 2020 and failings to test and trace the NHS.
The families of those who lost loved ones to Covid have campaigned for an independent investigation into what happened.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said it is right that lessons be learned. In May 2021 he announced that an investigation would be carried out.
– Who directs the research and what is its scope?
The inquiry is chaired by Baroness Heather Hallett, a former Court of Appeal judge.
It is so extensive that it has been split into three modules, with more to be announced.
Module 1 will examine the UK’s resilience and preparedness for a coronavirus pandemic.
Module 2 will examine the decisions made by the Prime Minister and Cabinet, on the advice of the civil service, senior political, scientific and medical advisers and relevant committees.
Decisions made by those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will also be examined.
Module 3 will investigate the impact of Covid on healthcare systems, including patients, hospitals and other healthcare workers and staff.
The research is expected to last at least a year, with the first test sessions starting in the spring of 2023.
– Who will be called as a witness?
The number of people who will be called to testify has not yet been announced, but is likely to include scientific and political advisers.
Families will also be invited to submit evidence.
The investigation can compel witnesses to testify and hand over documents, but it cannot prosecute or fine anyone.