All-party group of MPs to launch rapid inquiry into government response to coronavirus

A cross-party group of MPs is launching a rapid inquiry into the Government response to coronavirus ahead of the winter months.

It follows calls for a public inquiry into the UK’s handling of COVID which have been building at pace over the last few months, from health professionals, bereaved families, policy experts, frontline NHS staff, MPs and the public.  The parliamentary inquiry represents a focal point where the demands and evidence can be quickly converted into actionable output.

The all-party parliamentary group, which held its inaugural meeting on Wednesday last week (8/7), is being chaired by Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran MP - vice-chairs sitting on the group include Conservative MP Dr Dan Poulter, Labour MP Clive Lewis, Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville-Roberts, Green Party Life Peer Jenny Jones, Scottish National Party MP Dr Philippa Whitford, Labour MP Debbie Abrahams and Liberal Democrat MP Munira Wilson.

The parliamentary inquiry will begin taking evidence from public, bereaved families, health experts and professional bodies, starting immediately. The first round of evidence will be reviewed at the next full APPG meeting on Wednesday, 22 July. It is planned that the inquiry will release its final recommendations by the end of summer.

Liberal Democrat MP and APPG chair Layla Moran said: “From the neglect of care homes to the lack of an effective testing regime, each day brings more evidence of mistakes in the handling of this pandemic - and there is every indication that we will see a potential second spike this winter.

“The country and the NHS cannot afford for these errors to be repeated. There is no time to waste when it comes to learning the lessons from the UK response to the pandemic. This is why we are launching our parliamentary inquiry and will be taking evidence immediately.”

Conservative MP and APPG vice-chair Dr Dan Poulter said: “It is important that we learn lessons about what things we can do better ahead of the difficult winter months that lie ahead.

“This winter, we are likely to face a second wave of coronavirus coupled with seasonal flu virus and it is vital that our health and care system is fully prepared for what is likely to come.”

Labour MP and APPG vice-chair Clive Lewis said:


“No healthy and functioning democracy should ever shy away from uncovering hard truths about its own failings. Especially failings as large and catastrophic as the ones the UK has just experienced with the advent of COVID. Such failure raises profound questions about the capabilities and functionality of the state to protect us all.

“This isn’t just about holding the government to account, as important as that is. It’s also about ensuring we have the ability to weather the coming systemic shocks the 21st century will throw at us.  For this will not be the last one.”

Information on the APPG and its developing work can be found at: https://www.marchforchange.uk/appg_coronavirus

 

Calls for a public inquiry into the UK government handling of coronavirus have been building at pace over the last few months, from science and  health professionals, bereaved families, policy experts, frontline NHS staff, MPs and the public.

Polling this month by YouGov commissioned by campaign group March for Change shows that 57% of Brits say there should an independent public inquiry into how the UK Government has handled coronavirus, with 62% of those saying it should happen before the winter months.  Asked if the government is adequately prepared to handle coronavirus in the upcoming winter months, a majority (56%) say the Government is not adequately prepared – with only around a quarter (26%) thinking that the government is adequately prepared for any spike. 

March for Change will act as the APPG secretariat.  Together, the APPG and March for Change will now seek input from public, campaign groups and professional bodies alike into what are the lessons learned, what are the upcoming threats and what are the next steps needed. 

This situation has resulted in many parties arguing that an important component of, or precursor to, a full inquiry must be a rapid assessment of lessons learned from the first wave and an action plan for the upcoming winter months. This also comes as Sweden announces the launch of a public inquiry into their own handling of COVID and French courts also open an inquiry into their officials’ handling of the crisis.

For this reason, the campaign group March for Change, which had previously organised a letter of health professionals advocating an urgent public inquiry, helped form an APPG to connect between public, civil society bodies, campaigns and parliament in order to get on top of the rising demand and convert it into actionable output.

Last month (June), 27 leading medics and scientists signed a March for Change letter calling on Boris Johnson to order a public inquiry to prepare Britain for a second wave of the coronavirus this winter, warning that many more will die unless the country improves its response.  The 27 experts, of which more than half are professors in virology, public health, epidemiology and other relevant fields, said there was an urgent need to fix shortcomings in Westminster’s coronavirus response, which have contributed to the UK suffering one of the highest death rates in the world. March for Change also have a petition with over 115,000 signatures demanding a public inquiry into the UK government handling of coronavirus. The petition is hosted on the March for Change website: https://www.marchforchange.uk/coronavirus_inquiry

Information on the APPG and its developing work can be found at: https://www.marchforchange.uk/appg_coronavirus

 

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Press info: Howard Bowden, howardbowden@marchforchange.uk, 07720 839 852

 

Notes to editors: 

March for Change is a grassroots campaign founded in 2019.  Having set up the APPG, the March for Change campaign will fill the function of the group's secretariat.  Its petition is hosted on the March for Change website: https://www.marchforchange.uk/coronavirus_inquiry

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,608 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken 30 June - 1 July, 2020.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

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