Labour Research November 2021

Health & Safety Matters

UK Covid response condemned

A damning report has condemned the UK’s response to the Covid pandemic as one of the worst public health failures in its history, leading to an avoidably high death toll.

Responding to the report, Coronavirus: lessons learned to date, by the cross-party science and technology and health and social care committees of MPs, the UNISON public services union called for a public inquiry without delay.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea. said the report “drives home the urgent need for the public inquiry to start gathering evidence immediately, to learn lessons and hold those responsible to account”.

The RCN nurses’ union highlighted the report’s findings that a “fatalistic” approach meant measures such as widespread testing and national lockdown were introduced far too late, while decisions on lockdowns and social distancing during the early weeks of the pandemic “rank as one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced”.

It also found pre-pandemic NHS staff shortages, lack of crucial resources such as personal protective equipment (PPE), and that failure to prioritise and support social care had negative consequences for nursing staff and patients.

The BMA doctors’ union said the report rightly praises one of the most successful vaccine programmes in history.

But it noted that the UK has suffered one of the worst tolls from Covid in the Western world in terms of numbers of cases, hospitalisations and deaths.