The Prime Minister announced today (12 May) that the Government intends to establish an independent public inquiry on a statutory basis into the Covid-19 response. The inquiry will have full powers, including the ability to compel the production of all relevant materials and take oral evidence in public under oath.
The inquiry is not due to start until the spring of 2022, and there is as yet no timeline or end date for a report.
Chris Kenny, CEO of the medical defence specialist MDDUS, said: “Doctors need certainty now – not at the end of a long public inquiry – that, if they face a regulatory investigation or legal challenge into decisions they took during the pandemic, they will be treated fairly.
“We know this is a genuine and very live concern for doctors. They need reassurance that the collective memory of working during the pandemic and its timeline will be preserved.
“Evidence is mounting up, from surveys by MDDUS, the BMA and others, that a failure to address this issue is reducing doctors’ commitment to the NHS in the long-term.
“Despite new guidance issued by health professional regulators, or by employers, none of this has given health professionals the reassurance that the Covid-19 specific conditions they worked under will always be taken into account in the case of complaints or claims.
“MDDUS represents more than 50,000 of the doctors and dentists who have worked on the frontline of Covid-19 since March last year.
“We remain strongly of the opinion that a separate, expert and independent report is rapidly required to consider the complexities of the pandemic on the regulatory and legal processes.
“We must ensure clinicians have peace of mind that they will be treated fairly, in the case of a complaint or regulatory process.
“Our members have worked for more than a year under unprecedented pressure and they must not be left exposed while a public inquiry that may not report for years gets underway.”