Government accepts or partially accepts majority of MPs’ recommendations on response to coronavirus pandemic
16 June 2022
The Chairs of the Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee have welcomed a response from the Government into recommendations of the joint parliamentary inquiry into the handling of the coronavirus pandemic. In its response, published today, the Government accepts or partially accepts the majority of 38 recommendations made in the Report Coronavirus: lessons learned to date.
- Read the joint report: Coronavirus: lessons learned to date (PDF)
- Read the joint report summary: Coronavirus: lessons learned to date (HTML)
- Health and Social Care Committee
- Science and Technology Committee
The Report by the joint inquiry found that ‘decisions on lockdowns and social distancing during the early weeks of the pandemic and the advice that led to them ranked as one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced’. The success of the vaccine programme, one of the most effective in Europe, demonstrated that positive as well as negative lessons should be taken from the handling of the pandemic.
Joint Chairs' comment
In a joint statement, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, and Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, said:
"We welcome the Government’s acceptance or partial acceptance of the majority of our 38 recommendations on lessons to learn from its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Groupthink hindered the Government’s response at the start of the pandemic. We are pleased that SAGE began regularly publishing its papers and minutes in a timely fashion following our request during the pandemic. It will be important to ensure transparency from the outset in any future emergency.
The pandemic exposed underlying weaknesses in the social care sector. The Government has not met in full our call for additional social care funding nor addressed specific concerns around infection prevention. We remain doubtful that Ministers have learned this lesson.
It will now be vital for the Government to put its words of acceptance into actions to ensure that our scientific, health and care sectors are better prepared to meet any future threats. We will monitor the implementation of many recommendations."
Inquiry background and Government's response
The year-long inquiry considered the country’s preparedness for a pandemic; the use of non-pharmaceutical interventions such as border controls, social distancing and lockdowns to control the pandemic; the use of test, trace and isolate strategies; the impact of the pandemic on social care; the impact of the pandemic on specific communities; and the procurement and roll-out of covid-19 vaccines.
The Government accepted all eight recommendations on its pandemic response involving ‘at risk communities’, including the provision of appropriate and useable PPE equipment to staff from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. However, it did not accept the Committees’ conclusion that staff did not have the same level of access to appropriate and useable personal protective equipment as their white colleagues during the pandemic.
The Government however rejected the recommendation to set up a co-ordinating capability for the various strands of work being undertaken across Government to horizon scan for future threats on the basis that, in its view, such a capability already exists. It does note that it is “currently reviewing the way that it assesses risk” as part of its work to develop a Resilience Strategy. It also rejected two recommendations around the role of the Armed Forces.