The terms of reference for the UK Covid-19 Public Inquiry are set to expand, following a proposal from Baroness Hallett, the Inquiry’s Chair, to the Prime Minister on 12 May.

The Inquiry has published a summary report on the consultation, which ran for four weeks and received more than 20,000 responses. Baroness Hallett seeks to clarify and amend the terms of reference, so they make express reference to:

  • Care in the home, including by unpaid carers
  • Initial contact with official healthcare advice services such as 111 and 999
  • The role of primary care settings such as General Practice
  • The development, delivery and impact of therapeutics and vaccines
  • The availability and use of data, research and expert evidence
  • How decisions were made, communicated, recorded and implemented
  • Collaboration between central government, devolved administrations, local authorities and the voluntary and community sector
  • Additional funding for the voluntary and community sector.

Recommended additions to the terms of reference

  • Children and young people, including the impact on health, wellbeing and social care education and early years provision and antenatal and postnatal care
  • Impacts on mental health and wellbeing of the UK population, including but not limited to those who were harmed significantly by the pandemic
  • The impact on the mental health and wellbeing of the bereaved, including post-bereavement support
  • The closure and reopening of the hospitality, retail, sport and leisure and travel and tourism sectors, places of worship, and cultural institutions
  • Support for businesses, jobs and the self-employed, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, loans schemes, business rates relief and grant, and
  • Safeguarding and support for victims of domestic abuse.

In addition, Baroness Hallett has also recommended that the terms of reference be reframed to put inequalities at the forefront so that investigation into the unequal impacts of the pandemic runs through the whole Inquiry.

What’s next?

The Inquiry must now wait for the Government’s response before deciding on the order in which the Inquiry will consider the relevant issues. However, the Inquiry’s Summary Report sets out four themes which respondents wanted looked at first. They were:

  • The impact of the pandemic on children and young people
  • The management of the response in the health and social care sectors
  • The use of non-pharmaceutical interventions such as lockdowns
  • The role of experts and advisers, and the use of data and science, in the Government’s decisions.

It is hoped the government will respond later in May or in early June.

How Capsticks can help

Our team members have been closely involved in establishing and working in statutory public inquiries and other major investigations for decades. Whilst the terms of reference for the Inquiry are not yet finalised, we can advise on Inquiry processes generally and we can also guide you on data collection and storage, as well as what analyses your organisation can carry out now. For further information on the services we can provide both now and as the Inquiry process takes shape, please follow this link.

If you have any queries around what's discussed in this article, and the impact on your organisation, please speak to Francis Lyons, Georgia Ford, Hugh Giles, Adam Hartrick or Tracey Lucas to find out more about how Capsticks can help.