Charity and campaigners write to PM about COVID public inquiry

August 5, 2021

John’s Campaign and the Relatives and Residents’ Association (R&RA) will apply for Core Participant Status at the public inquiry into the UK 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 as soon as the process allows. The solicitors said the average life expectancy in UK care homes is 24 months, 12 months for homes with nursing and wrote that, ‘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.’

In their legal letter, John’s Campaign and the R&RA request an urgent meeting with Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) representatives to discuss preparations for the public inquiry.

Through a series of legal challenges, John’s Campaign, led by Julia Jones and Nicci Gerrard, and represented by Tessa Gregory and Carolin Ott, have forced the DHSC to change guidance to care homes in line with human rights laws.

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 19th July 2021.

Helen Wildbore, Director of the Relatives and Residents’ Association (R&RA), 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 and 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.’

Emma Jones of Leigh Day, said, ‘We know only too well that to ensure an Inquiry is a full, far-reaching and thorough as is required it must happen as soon as possible.  Delays can lead to documents going missing and individuals’ memories fading.  In addition, we know that much communication between government officials has taken place using private communications such as text messages – this Inquiry process needs to start now to ensure that the public can be given assurances that vital information cannot simply be deleted.’

John’s Campaign runs a UK-wide campaign supporting people separated from relatives and friends in health and care settings and the R&RA provides a national, specialist helpline for expert advice on care issues for older people, and their relatives and friends.

 


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