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RCP responds to consultation on terms of reference of the official COVID-19 inquiry

The RCP has submitted written evidence to the consultation on the terms of reference for the official COVID-19 inquiry, chaired by Baroness Hallett, which is due to launch later this year. 

The official COVID-19 inquiry is consulting on the draft terms of teference (ToRs) it published in March 2022. The RCP has responded to this inquiry, welcoming the breadth of the ToRs. 

Andrew Goddard, President of the Royal College of Physician said: “As we have said several times, we hope that ‘preparedness’ will be defined very widely, particularly considering whether the state of public health led to a worse outcome than might otherwise have been.  

“It is welcome that the inquiry will consider disparities related to protected characteristics – the pandemic clearly affected some groups more than others and it is right that this forms a part of the inquiry. But disparities relating to socioeconomic status should also be included to ensure that everyone’s experiences are taken into account.  

“Preparedness, initial capacity and the ability to increase it should not focus solely on our ability to manage the pandemic, but the ability to manage it while also delivering routine care. The Public Accounts Committee recently recognised that even before the pandemic the Department of Health and Social Care ‘did not increase capacity sufficiently to meet growing demand’. The number of staff and bed numbers had a significant impact on our ability to respond to COVID-19. 

“The impact of the pandemic was tough on members and all healthcare workers – and a significant reason for that was many colleagues knew they were unable to provide care for people who needed it. This should be considered as part of the inquiry looking at the experiences of and impact on health and care workers.” 

The RCP regularly surveyed its members from April 2020 to understand the impact of COVID-19: the availability of PPE, testing, sickness and risk assessments, the volume and management of COVID-19 cases and in the later stages access to vaccines and the impact on hospital capacity. You can access these surveys on the RCP’s COVID-19 Hub.