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10 December 2021

Bindmans LLP delivers letter to Prime Minister on behalf of a group of law firms representing individuals and groups affected by Covid-19, regarding the Covid-19 public inquiry

4 mins

Bindmans LLP has delivered a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanding assurances on the constitution and timing of the Covid-19 public inquiry. The letter has been written on behalf of a group of lawyers from ten different law firms, who represent a large number of Covid-19 victims and stakeholders.

These victims and stakeholders include bereaved family groups, doctors, medical organisations, trade unions, charities and community organisations, and others who have been personally affected by the pandemic. The letter sets out four key demands:

  1. The panel will be selected in an open and transparent manner
  2. That its composition will reflect the diversity of the UK population, but in particular the groups most impacted by the virus
  3. There will be an urgent public consultation on the terms of reference
  4. A date will be set now for the commencement of the inquiry to be no later than April 2022

The public inquiry was announced by the Prime Minister on 12 May 2021 in a statement to the House of Commons where he stated that:

Amid such tragedy, the state has an obligation to examine its actions as rigorously and as 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.

Jules Carey, partner at Bindmans LLP, who represents a number of the letter’s signatories including a group of doctors with long Covid, said:

The Covid-19 public inquiry needs to be properly constituted, and must commence immediately. A key part of the inquiry is to set out what measures need to be taken to ensure we are better prepared for future pandemics.

The arrival of Omicron, and the threat of new variants means that it is imperative that all lessons that can be learned from how the UK has responded to the pandemic so far, are learnt without delay. Preparedness for future hypothetical pandemics is important, but the priority has to be to learn to stop repeating the same mistakes as we battle with this current pandemic.

Dr Shaun Peter Qureshi is a doctor, currently suffering with long Covid as a result of work exposure to the virus. He comments, on behalf of a collective of 58 doctors who are also suffering with long Covid, and are signatories to our letter:

Health and social care workers have continued to provide essential services to the UK public throughout the pandemic, despite the risks to themselves. As a result, thousands have died or been left with debilitating, long term problems including long Covid. Subsequently, many healthcare workers have lost their jobs and are unable to work in any capacity.

We are a group of 58 doctors with long Covid demanding the commencement of a transparent, public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic, which explores the lack of adequate protection in healthcare settings and why we and our healthcare colleagues were considered expendable.

In particular, we would like answers about the inadequacy of the PPE provided and the widespread lack of adequate protection from airborne Covid transmission in healthcare settings. We are concerned that, despite the scope of occupational injury from Covid, many healthcare settings are continuing to provide inadequate precautions against an airborne virus, which continues to put staff at risk of disability and death.

The government must also answer how they intend to ensure the welfare of healthcare workers suffering long term disability due to occupationally acquired Covid.

Please find below an excerpt of today’s statement from the TUC on this matter, and the full letter to the Prime Minister. You can also read the letter here.

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