The only UK inquiry to date into the handling of the coronavirus crisis will take its first evidence from bereaved relatives on Monday, amid growing calls for a full independent investigation.
Families of those who have died will give their submissions in writing, via video call, or will arrange to do so in person to the new all-party parliamentary group (APPG) for coronavirus, led by a cross-party group of MPs.
It is so far the only independent inquiry into the pandemic taking place in the UK. The politicians involved hope their findings will be used to inform the government’s response before a potential second peak of the illness this winter.
The 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.”
Calls for a full judge-led public inquiry into the UK’s handling of coronavirus have been building over the last few months, from health professionals, bereaved families, policy experts, frontline NHS staff and MPs.
The APPG’s inquiry, which will be completed by the end of the summer, is an initial focal point where the MPs say they can build up evidence.
The Conservative MP and group vice-chair, 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’s Clive Lewis, Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville-Roberts and the SNP’s Philippa Whitford are also on the committee, along with the Green party life peer Jenny Jones.
To give evidence, people can go to the March for Change website where the coronavirus inquiry will be opened for frontline workers and relatives to make submissions via a dedicated portal, anonymously if they wish. Professionals and trade bodies can submit evidence via email and it will be published.
Polling this month by YouGov commissioned by March for Change found that 57% of British people feel there should an independent public inquiry into how the UK government has handled the pandemic.