‘The worst public health response in UK history’ – No test & trace – Care home horror – Lack of PPE

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Health workers outside Downing Street last year holding placards showing exactly what they think of the Tory management of the Covid-19 pandemic

THE TORY government’s failure to do more to stop Covid spreading early on in the pandemic was one of the ‘worst public health failures’ in UK history, a report by MPs says.

The report, ‘Coronavirus: lessons learned to date’, examined the initial UK response to the Covid pandemic by the The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, and the Health and Social Care Committee.

The government approach was to try to manage the situation and, in effect, achieve ‘herd immunity’ it said.

This led to a delay in introducing the first lockdown, thus costing thousands of lives.

The report also highlighted the lack of test and trace and the horror that ensued when elderly patients were discharged from hospital untested and sent back into care homes where they infected other residents and staff.

The report also stressed that the country’s borders were left wide open allowing people to bring in new strains of the virus.

Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said the ‘damning’ findings show what ‘monumental errors’ had been made, and called for the public inquiry to be brought forward.

Lindsey Jackson, from Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said: ‘We need to move to a full judicial inquiry now! We can then see if people are culpable and if they are, then I want them brought to justice.

‘I knew in my own mind the lockdown was too slow. I knew the social care sector wasn’t being looked after, I knew people shouldn’t have been released from hospital without tests, and this just confirms that.’

The report, led by former Tory Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said the failure was like a game of football with two very different halves.

Jackson, whose mother died during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, said: ‘If I can just make mention of what I find to be a despicable remark this morning from Mr Hunt … This isn’t a game. My mother did not lose her life in a game. I think she lost her life because of mistakes made by the government.’

Chair of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Council, Carol Popplestone, said: ‘The long-term failure to invest in the nursing workforce meant health and care services were chronically under-resourced to deal with the pressures of the pandemic.

‘The report highlights how staff stepped up to be redeployed to areas of critical care to protect those most in need and yet they were continually let down by failures at the highest levels. The massive nursing shortage meant student nurses being called to the frontline, disrupting their studies and readiness to qualify.

‘Nursing staff across the whole health and care system were given false reassurances on PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) and those in their care were put at risk by failures in Test-and-Trace.

‘Warnings were repeatedly ignored and the terrible impact on the most vulnerable is laid bare in this report.

‘There can now be no delay to the start of a public inquiry into the failings. The first lesson must be to ensure that proper accountability in government for workforce planning and supply is built into law.’