The scope of the government’s inquiry into preparations for and the response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK has been published and is now subject to a public consultation. The draft terms of reference set out the following key aims of the Inquiry:

  • Examine the Covid-19 response and the impact of the pandemic in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and produce a factual narrative account, including:
    • Analysing the central, devolved and local public health decision-making and its consequences.
    • The response of the health and care sector across the UK spanning:
      • Preparedness, capacity and resilience;
      • Management of the pandemic in hospitals and care homes (for example, infection control, triage, end of life decisions, transfer of residents to or from care homes);
      • Procurement and distribution of PPE and ventilators;
      • Development and delivery of vaccines;
      • Consequences of the pandemic for non-Covid related conditions; and
      • Provision for those experiencing long Covid.
    • The economic response to the pandemic and its impact.
  • Identify the lessons to be learned from the above to inform the UK’s preparations for future pandemics. Examples are given as to how these aims will be met and include consideration of the experiences of and impact on health and care sector workers and listening to the experiences of bereaved families.

In an open letter the inquiry chair, Baroness Hallett, says that her team will be gathering evidence for the rest of this year and that she hopes to start hearings in 2023.

How to take part in the public consultation

You now have a chance to take part in the consultation and comment on the terms of reference topics, as well as the order they should be considered in. There is also an opportunity to comment on how long the Inquiry should last as well as the ways that those who are bereaved or who have suffered harm can participate.

The consultation closes on 7 April 2022.

Which actions should NHS organisations take?

Whilst the Inquiry will not investigate individual cases of harm or death in detail, its scope encompasses all aspects of patients’ care pathways. 

The Inquiry will produce evidence and information gathering protocols in due course. In the meantime and following NHS England’s guidance, NHS organisations should have appointed a named inquiry lead and started preparations around records management, contact and tracing systems for leavers and wellbeing support for staff likely to be involved.  

If you have not done so, you should issue a “stop notice” and secure your organisations evidence and documents.

How Capsticks can help

We can provide you with advice and support on responding to public inquiries and in particular, the statutory powers to call for written and oral evidence. We can also help with the preparation of

  • a “stop notice”,
  • a chronology of key events for your organisation and
  • a strategic timeline for and analysis of decision making,

as well as

  • providing Board briefing sessions on the Covid-19 Inquiry,
  • advice on document management and
  • helping your organisation to learn any relevant lessons from the pandemic, regardless of your engagement in the public Inquiry process.

For more detail on the way in which we can help, please click here.

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, Adam Hartrick or Tracey Lucas to find out more about how Capsticks can help.