The UK’s Covid 19 inquiry, led by Baroness Hallett, has begun its work. Full details can be found on the website here. It will start hearing oral evidence in June 2023. The Inquiry has divided its work into separate ‘modules’ which deal with different topics.
Here are the modules announced so far:
1. How prepared the UK was for a pandemic.
2. Core political and administrative governance and decision-making for the UK. It will include the initial response, central government decisions, political and civil service performance as well as the effectiveness of the relationship between governments in the devolved administrations and the local and voluntary sectors. Module 2 will also assess the decisions made about non-pharmaceutical measures (lockdowns and other restrictions) and the factors that contributed to their implementation.
In Module 2, Module 2B will focus particularly on Wales. Oral hearings will begin in February 2024; written submissions will be required well before that.
3. Government and society’s response to Covid-19 and the impact the pandemic had on healthcare systems, patients and healthcare workers. This will include healthcare governance, primary care, NHS backlogs, the effects of vaccination programs on healthcare provision as well as Long Covid diagnosis and support.
Further modules will cover:
• Vaccines, therapeutics and antiviral treatments
• The care sector
• Government procurement and PPE
• Test and trace
• The Government’s business and financial responses
• Health inequalities and the impact of Covid-19
• Education, children and young people • Other public services, including frontline delivery by key workers
Organisations that wish to submit evidence must obtain the Inquiry’s permission – there will be no general call for evidence. Core participants (those who will automatically be entitled to present evidence) have been assigned for the early modules. It has not been practical for churches to seek such status as it involves a great deal of work and obtaining legal representation. The Inquiry has now agreed to receive evidence from faith groups for Module 2B (Welsh Government actions and regulations and their effect) through Cytûn and the Inter-faith Council for Wales. It appears very unlikely that the Inquiry will agree to receive evidence directly from individual denominations or faith groups.
In order to submit it to the Inquiry in a timely manner, Cytun will need to receive (via Gethin Rhys email@example.com) from denominations and organisations evidence relating to Module 2B by 15 September 2023 at the latest. This can include case studies from local congregations, as these will illustrate the realities on the ground better than general statements. There will be further opportunities later to present evidence relating to later modules – such as our work in offering practical help to people during the pandemic. If it is easier to send evidence in a single package, then Cytun will assign it to the appropriate modules.
Evidence from individuals
Individuals (but not organisations) who wish to share their own personal experiences can do so directly to the inquiry through the Every Story Matters programme – https://covid19.public-inquiry.uk/share-your-experience/
Jen Wingate of WSA Community and Just Ideas team who are part of a wider team led by Ipsos supporting this programme, has contacted us. She writes:
Both WSA and Just Ideas are community-focussed, independent organisations, facilitating and supporting community focussed projects to bring about positive change. Our involvement in Every Story Matters is to listen and give a voice to those affected by the pandemic. We are supporting the Covid Inquiry team to learn about a range of experiences and the issues that affected them during Covid. For now we are supporting module 3 which is focussing on health care during the pandemic and as such we are keen to hear the voice of both those giving and receiving health care with a range of experiences, including hospital chaplains. We are offering all those that take part in the full interviews some shopping vouchers to acknowledge your time. There will also be support available for anyone who participates as we know that asking you to share your story can be difficult. [my emphasis]
Jen can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gethin Rhys 19.04.2023