PM refused to meet bereaved families, covid inquiry MPs told
- ‘Long-Covid’ and bereaved family witnesses give evidence to cross-party rapid inquiry
- Support networks needed for people living with long-Covid and those who have lost loved ones, inquiry told
- Inquiry chair Layla Moran MP: ‘unacceptable that bereaved families met with wall of indifference from Number 10’
A daughter who lost her father to coronavirus told MPs today/Wednesday how she and a group representing 1,450 grieving family members wrote to the prime minister asking for a meeting and were twice ignored – before receiving a two-line note of acknowledgement telling them they couldn’t see the PM due to the pandemic.
Jo Goodman, from Norwich, who lost her father Stuart after he was diagnosed with Covid-19 aged 72, was speaking on behalf of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice at a live evidence session of the all-party MPs group on coronavirus.
She told the panel of MPs and peers, chaired by Layla Moran MP: “We wrote to the prime minister three times beginning on June 11, asking him to meet with bereaved families and also to Matt Hancock, calling for a public inquiry and calling for them to meet with us and hear our experiences.
“At first we only received a two-line acknowledgement and eventually a letter saying they are unable to meet with us due to the current pandemic. The fact that they’re able to meet with cycling groups and other groups, it feels as though we are being swept under the carpet.
“We really do want to ensure that other people don’t go through this and we think it is really important that bereaved families’ voices are heard.”
The APPG (all party parliamentary group), which was set up last month and has over 60 MPs and peers, heard today for the first time from individuals living with ‘long-covid’ and also bereaved families.
Kathryn de Prudhoe, from Leeds, who also lost her father, criticised the support available to bereaved families, telling MPs: “We are all paying for private therapy. My daughter is crippled with anxiety, she is so afraid of catching the virus.
“My mum spent the first 11 days after my father’s death alone. People cannot access their usual support networks. We need additional mental health support to process bereavement.”
The virtual Zoom evidence sessions are being live streamed every Wednesday during August and September, and the rapid inquiry will be releasing recommendations throughout the summer. At the last PMQs before recess two weeks ago, Boris Johnson said he would be “very happy to look” at what the group comes up with.
Another witness, Dr Jake Suett, an anaesthetics and intensive care medicine (ICM) doctor, from King’s Lynn, Norfolk, who contracted coronavirus earlier this year and now lives with long-Covid, told the inquiry: "Death is not the only thing to count in this pandemic."
Chair Layla Moran MP said today/Wednesday: "It is unacceptable that bereaved families have been met with such a wall of indifference from Number 10. The prime minister must agree to listen to families who have lost loved ones to coronavirus and take their concerns on board.
"We also need greater support for bereaved families and those living with long-term Covid symptoms. This cross-party inquiry will continue to hear from those impacted by this terrible disease, so we can put pressure the government, learn lessons and save lives."
Last week, the inquiry - which has so far received over 1,000 submissions, including from ‘long-covid’ sufferers, NHS frontline workers, bereaved families, health experts, professional bodies and other health organisations - heard from The British Medical Association (BMA), NHS Confederation and Doctors in Unite. A final summary of recommendations will be released at the end of summer.
MPs who have joined the all-party group in the last three weeks include former ministers David Davis and Harriett Baldwin (Conservative), shadow minister for veterans Sharon Hodsgon (Labour), Christine Jardine (Liberal Democrats), Stuart McDonald (SNP), Ben Lake (Plaid) and Alliance Party of Northern Ireland MP Dr Stephen Farry. Full list below.
Members of the public can watch the weekly, 11.30am-1.30pm Wednesday live streamed evidence sessions on social media:
Former pensions minister and Conservative Baroness Ros Altmann, who was one of the eight cross-party MPs and peers who set up the APPG, added: “This is not about apportioning blame - rather we need to learn lessons quickly from failings in social care and ensure government is treating the care sector fairly, with adequate testing and PPE, while ensuring medical staff are available.
“Care homes are not set up as hospitals and the NHS should not treat care home residents as second class patients who can just be discharged without first being sure they will have the care they require, and will not infect other staff or residents or partners and carers at home. The lack of connection between NHS and social care has cost lives and we need to learn those lessons now.”
Campaign group March for Change helped set up the all-party group and is the APPG secretariat. In June, it organised a letter signed by 27 leading medics and scientists calling on the PM 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, including 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 has 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
Organisations or individuals can submit evidence to the rapid inquiry online via https://www.marchforchange.uk/secure_submission_form
Howard Bowden, firstname.lastname@example.org, 07720 839 852
To arrange an interview with Layla Moran MP: Sam Payne, Sam.Payne@parliament.uk, 07729 368 468
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. More info here: https://appgcoronavirus.marchforchange.uk/appg_details