Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 52 Number 6, March 26, 2022 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Final Report of the People's Covid Inquiry Released

Misconduct in Public Office - Why did so many thousands die unnecessarily?

The report of the People's Covid Inquiry, Misconduct in Public Office - Why did so many thousands die unnecessarily? [1], was released on Wednesday, December 1. The main inquiry which ran from February 24 - June 16, 2021 on zoom, was chaired by the renowned barrister Michael Mansfield who has fought for people's rights on many occasions, including the Lewisham People's Commission of Enquiry into the proposals to close Lewisham hospital's A&E, maternity and children's services in 2013. The other panellists were: Neena Modi, Professor of Neonatal Medicine, Imperial College London and President of the British Medical Association; Dr Tolullah Oni, Urban Epidemiologist & Public Health physician at the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge and Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge and the African Academy of Sciences; Dr Jacky Davis, an NHS consultant radiologist at Whittington Hospital in North London, and a founder member of Keep Our NHS Publi c; Lorna Hacket, counsel to the inquiry, a barrister and co-founder of Hackett & Dabbs, specialising in human rights and public law.

The report publishes the evidence presented to the eight sessions [2] and includes some 40 inquiry witnesses, and additional video testimonies. In drawing its conclusions the report says: "The Government was not prepared for a global pandemic despite warnings that one was coming. When it arrived, they ignored clear warnings of the dangers and did too little too late. During the decade before the pandemic successive Conservative Governments had run down public services, including the NHS, public health and care services, with the result that they were already in crisis when the pandemic struck. The pandemic then shone a light on long term problems in society around inequalities and discrimination and exacerbated them. The poorest and most vulnerable were hit the hardest and died in disproportionate numbers."

The report itemises findings and recommendations holding the government to account on each of the following:

We give here just some of the recommendations made by the Inquiry:

In his preface to the report Michael Mansfield points out: "It was plain to Keep Our NHS Public (KONP), the organisers of the People's Covid Inquiry, that Government words were bloated hot air, hoping to delay and obfuscate. Within this narrative lies a theme of behaviour amounting to gross negligence by the Government, whether examined singularly or collectively. There were lives lost and lives devastated, which was foreseeable and preventable. From lack of preparation and coherent policy, unconscionable delay, through to preferred and wasteful procurement, to ministers themselves breaking the rules, the misconduct is earth-shattering. The public deserves the truth, recognition, and admissions."

In other words, central to the inquiry was the government's failure to protect key populations at increased risk, and evidence that recommendations from previous pandemic planning exercises had been ignored. The government had ignored a previous report by Amnesty International - As if Expendable released in October 4, 2020 - that had exposed the government's shockingly irresponsible decisions which abandoned care home residents to die [3].

Speaking about the People's Covid Inquiry report to The Guardian [4], Jo Goodman, a co-founder of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, which contributed to the inquiry, said: "It's vital that bereaved families are at the heart of the forthcoming (government) inquiry, and listened to at every turn, and this report evidences exactly why. The loss of our loved ones should be used to learn lessons and save lives - something the government should be entirely focused on and dedicated to."

The People's Covid Inquiry has revealed many things about the way society is run as a result of the Covid pandemic. The Inquiry recommendations call for an end to the continuation of the government-led path of a corporate direction to the health and social care system, and an end to the misconduct this causes. It is a corporate-led system which has led to such tragic outcomes for the most vulnerable in society during the pandemic. The Inquiry calls for those responsible for these reckless decisions to be brought to account. It indicates the necessity to start building a new human-centred system of health and social care that meets the needs of all and is a right for all and that is capable to dealing with such health emergencies as the coronavirus pandemic.

Notes

[1] Misconduct in Public Office - Why did so many thousands die unnecessarily?
https://www.peoplescovidinquiry.com/

[2] How well prepared was the NHS?

[3] Amnesty Report - As if Expendable; Report on the Government's Shockingly Irresponsible Decisions Which Abandoned Care Home Residents to Die
http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/wwie-20/ww20-38/ww20-38-03.htm
[4] Ministers should face misconduct charges over Covid crisis, say UK campaigners
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/01/ministers-misconduct-charges-covid-crisis-uk-campaigners


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