Prime Minister confirms Terms of Reference for the COVID-19 Inquiry
The Prime Minister has published the final Terms of Reference for the COVID-19 Inquiry, confirming in a written statement yesterday that “The UK inquiry into COVID-19 is now formally established and able to begin its important work”.
The Inquiry will consider and report on preparedness and resilience for dealing with the pandemic; the public health response of the UK as a whole; the response of the health and care sector across the UK; and the economic response and its impact, including Governmental interventions. These will be considered up to and including the date of formal establishment of the Inquiry on 28 June 2022.
The Prime Minister accepted Baroness Hallett’s changes to the Government’s draft Terms of Reference “in full” which include potential inequalities and the impact on mental health and wellbeing. Added to the key lines of enquiry to the response of the health and social care sector are contact with official healthcare advice services such as 111 and 999; the role of primary care; care at home, including by unpaid carers; and antennal and postnatal care.
The Inquiry team will seek to minimise duplication of investigation, evidence gathering and reporting on devolved matters, and will set out publicly how this will be managed. Guidance will be published in due course which will detail what information the Inquiry seeks by way of disclosure, who will be required to provide disclosure and in what format. The next update is expected in July.
Baroness Hallett gave a video update on the COVID-19 Inquiry website following the announcement of the Prime Minister in which she makes seven promises to the public about how the Inquiry will run. She stresses that those who have suffered during the pandemic will be at the heart of what will be a firmly independent, open, fair, and balanced inquiry. The Inquiry team will travel around the UK, hearing from as many people as possible. Apparently, an ambitious timetable will be set, with preparation already underway for public hearings to start in 2023, and with Baroness Hallett set to deliver recommendations as soon as possible through interim reports in the hope of reducing or preventing suffering and hardship in any future pandemic.
The full document setting out the Terms of Reference can be found here: UK COVID-19 Inquiry: terms of reference – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
Baroness Hallett’s update can be found here: UK Covid-19 Public Inquiry (covid19.public-inquiry.uk)