Care charities, John’s Campaign and the Relatives & Residents Association, have called for urgent moves towards setting up a public inquiry into the Government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The campaign group and charity for families with loved ones in care homes have appointed law firm Leigh Day to make their case for representation at the inquiry, when it takes place.
Leigh Day partners, Emma Jones and Tessa Gregory, both solicitors in the human rights department, have written to the Prime Minister, Cabinet Office and Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to put them on notice that the organisations will be applying for Core Participant Status in the public inquiry as soon as the process allows.
The groups have requested an urgent meeting with DHSC representatives to discuss preparations for the public inquiry, citing their experience and knowledge of the impact of the pandemic on families with loved ones in care homes, and also Leigh Day’s experience of public inquiries.
They commented: “Time is of the essence. The average life expectancy in UK care homes is 24 months, 12 months for homes with nursing. There is an urgent need for the inquiry to get under way, to provide answers to those whose lives have been most severely affected and to learn lessons before it is too late.”
Both organisations have outstanding concerns about the continued requirement for people living in care homes to isolate for 14 days on return from a hospital stay despite the wholesale lifting of restrictions in the rest of society since 19 July, 2021.
Helen Wildbore, director of the Relatives & Residents Association (pictured), who are represented by Emma Jones, said: “Our helpline has supported people hardest hit by the pandemic and measures taken to manage it. Through the shock of the care sector being neglected. Through the grief caused by the Government’s mismanagement of the virus.
“Through the anxiety of so many months of isolation and its devastating impact. Older people have been failed by the very systems designed to protect their rights. They continue to be failed and left behind in the most appalling way whilst the rest of the country gets back to normal.
“Our work has given us unique insights into the experiences of people living at the sharp end of coronavirus. We will make sure their voices are heard at the public inquiry and push for the answers families are so desperate for.”
A Government spokesperson said: “Throughout the pandemic we have been guided by data and scientific advice and have acted quickly and decisively to save lives and livelihoods.
“Every death from this virus is a tragedy and our sympathies are with everyone who has lost loved ones.
“As the Prime Minister said, we have committed to holding a full public inquiry as soon as is reasonably possible.”