NHS Wales leaders support an integrated UK-wide COVID-19 public inquiry

Darren Hughes, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation issues a position statement on a public inquiry into COVID-19 on behalf of Members.

14 July 2021

Darren Hughes, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation said:

"On behalf of our Members we welcomed the announcement that there will be a UK-wide Public Inquiry into the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s imperative that we learn from our responses at a UK, Wales, regional and local level, and the interaction between each level, so that we are better prepared for any future pandemics. NHS organisations in Wales are willing to fully contribute to the process and will respond when requested to do so.

"There have been and continue to be huge complexities in the decision making and actions relating to the handling of the pandemic, many of which have cross-border implications within and outside of the UK. It’s essential that no aspect of the response is examined in isolation and that we capture all learning following one of the most difficult times in both the country and NHS’s history, for the sake of everyone impacted. Through having an integrated UK-wide inquiry it should lead to a more comprehensive outcome.

"Since the beginning of the pandemic, Welsh NHS organisations have been extensively scrutinised at Senedd Committee inquiries. NHS leaders from all Local Health Boards provided extensive written and oral evidence to the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee and Public Health Wales NHS Trust gave evidence on four separate occasions during the Fifth Senedd to COVID-19 inquiries. Senedd Committee reports and their recommendations have been taken forward by NHS organisations in Wales for immediate consideration and to help form the basis of future plans and responses to protect and support the people of Wales.

"Throughout the pandemic the NHS in Wales has been proactively learning lessons and sharing good practice and will continue to do so, working in partnership with key stakeholders including social care. The NHS in Wales continues to cultivate a culture of learning to improve services for patients, capitalising on opportunities to better serve the public whilst celebrating where we have done things well.

"NHS organisations across Wales have maintained clear audit trails for actions taken during the pandemic to ensure they can fully evidence and contribute to any future inquiry. NHS organisations are duty bound to cooperate fully with any public inquiry, under the Public Inquiries Act 2005, and a number of NHS organisations in Wales have adopted a version of the ‘Charter for Families Bereaved through Public Tragedy’, which was proposed following a report considering the experiences of families affected by the Hillsborough disaster. Through adopting the Charter, NHS organisations will approach forms of public scrutiny with candour, in an open, honest and transparent way to assist in the search for truth, making full disclosure of relevant documents, material and facts and learn from the findings of external scrutiny.

"The Welsh NHS Confederation will continue to represent the views of our Members and will engage with the inquiry process as further information is made available."