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Johnson pledges Spring 2022 Inquiry into Covid, NAO report shows major disjunct between health and care

20 May 2021

The Prime Minister has committed to a full public independent Inquiry into the pandemic starting in Spring 2022. The Inquiry will be able to compel people to give evidence.

Speaking to the House of Commons last week, he said: "The state has an obligation to examine its actions as rigorously and candidly as possible, and to learn every lesson for the future, which is why I have always said that when the time is right there should be a full and independent Inquiry.”

The announcement came after months of calls from bereaved families, charities including DR UK, trades unions and the Labour party.

This week, the National Audit Office released a report on the Government’s response to Covid, noting it "lacked detailed contingency plans to manage the unfolding situation" at the outset.

NHS Confederation Chief Executive, Danny Mortimer said: “This report re-emphasises the long term issues that severely weakened the foundations of health and care, which meant the country was not better prepared to deal with the pandemic and its fallout… Importantly, this report also highlights the ever more pressing need to make sure reform of the social care sector is swift and far reaching.

“The two are sister services, and when one is hit hard, so is the other. Our members stand with their colleagues in social care in their dismay that the experiences highlighted so starkly in this report did not result in the promised action by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor.”

Four million people have contracted Covid to date, and 127,000 people have died of the virus within a month of contracting it.

Local government has also struggled to deal with Covid off the back of years of budget cuts. Local Authority (LA) budgets were cut by almost a third (28.7%) in real terms between 2010 and 2020. Public health grants to LAs were also slashed by £0.5 billion leaving Councils no choice but to cut back on services related to health. Only six per cent of Councils will not be making further cuts in the current financial year.

DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “It’s one thing for successive governments to be concerned with refilling the piggy bank, but quite another to do this while unscrewing the shelf on which it sits. Covid has highlighted how so many vital services have smashed to the floor in the past decade. Government can no longer leave people stuck in the mess it has made. It must act to fix essential services, make the NHS sustainable, and sort out social care.” Read the report.