15th December - APPG Meeting

Tuesday 15 December 11.30 am

In Attendance: Layla Moran MP, Dr Philippa Whitford MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Munira Wilson MP, Lord Strasburger, Richard Burgon MP, Philippa Whitford MP, office of Lisa Cameron MP, Barbara Keeley MP, Baroness Masham, Lord Tebbit, Lord Russell. 

Non-voting attendees: Hannah Bowess-Smith (office of Baroness Finlay) Tom Brufatto (Secretariat), Jennifer Watson (Secretariat), Lizzy Price (Secretariat), Owen Sainsbury (Office of Layla Moran MP), Sam Payne (Office of Layla Moran MP). 

  1. Approval of the Minutes of the meeting held on 01 December 2020 The Minutes of the meeting were approved by a show of hands. 
  2. Discussion of APPG in 2020 

The expertise of the witnesses and quality of their evidence to the APPG were noted. The hearing on Long Covid was an example of where the APPG had been ahead of public debate and understanding. 

It was noted that the most effective publicity had been achieved when journalists had attended and reported on specific hearings, rather than when the Interim Report was released. 

It was agreed that the Interim Report be disseminated as widely as possible, including but not limited to 

  • all MPs 
  • local authorities 
  • the Care Quality Commission and other relevant agencies. 
  • the devolved Governments. In this regard, it was noted that while much of the detail of the report related to the situation in England, the aim of Covid-Secure UK was aligned to the devolved administrations, namely suppression and elimination of the virus. 

It was agreed that the APPG should continue to push the recommendations contained in the Interim Report. Consideration should be given to breaking down the Interim Report into single issues, with key messages for the public. 

It was agreed that the APPG should not be associated with being pro-lockdown, but simply pro evidence based Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions. These should be managed properly, and accompanied by clear, consistent, and honest messaging. 

Continued should be made for a locally led Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support system, with the emphasis on support for isolation. In this regard, it was noted that, as regards the mass testing in Liverpool, many in the most deprived areas refused to get a test, for fear of having to isolate and lose income. Similarly, in Salford, it was reported that of those who had to self-isolate and had applied for isolation payments, only 22% were successful. On the question of the need for support to self-isolate, Richard Burgon brought to the attention of the APPG his Early Day Motion (#1249) on the question of sick pay and the need for real living wage levels. Members were requested to consider signing this EDM. 

On the question of inequalities, the recent paper by Professor Sir Michael Marmot on the impact of Covid on health inequalities was noted.

3. Future Hearings of the APPG 

It was proposed that future hearings should begin in early January, with a suggested start date of Tuesday 12 January. 

It was agreed that the following topics be discussed at future hearings: 

  • Vaccine roll-out including management, uptake and confidence. Vaccine and medication availability and the impact of Brexit. 
  • Isolation (with Support). It was agreed that local Mayors be invited to give evidence on behalf of their communities on the requirements necessary for self-isolation. Comparisons with other countries and their support measures would also be instructive. 
  • Testing strategy – including the cost/benefit analysis of mass testing, and the opportunity costs associated with mass testing. It was suggested that Dr Angela Raffle from the UK Screening committee be invited to attend and give evidence to the APPG on the efficacy of mass screening. 
  • Travel – including testing at UK’s international ports and airports. Tracing – the effectiveness of local authorities versus the effectiveness of Serco. 
  • International comparisons – compared with countries who have been more successful at suppressing the virus, such as Finland and Norway, what measures could achieve improved compliance and a more successful outcome. 

In order to maximise currency, publicity and influence, it was agreed that topics covered at hearings would be released more frequently, in advance of a final, consolidated report.