The Chair of the Inquiry has released her opening statement, which provides a breakdown of the first three modules of the Inquiry, and the protocol for becoming a Core Participant. The purpose of the Inquiry is to provide a factual account of what happened across the whole of the UK during the Covid-19 Pandemic, with health inequalities being a key theme throughout the Inquiry.
The Inquiry will be divided into modules, each of which will reflect a different area of the Terms of Reference. The modules will then be heard in turn with the preliminary hearing for module 1 being held in September 2022, and the full hearings being held in Spring 2023. Module 1 will consider the extent to which the risk of a Coronavirus pandemic was properly identified and planned for, and whether the UK was ready for such an eventuality. It will also scrutinise Government decision-making in relation to planning and will seek to identify lessons from earlier incidents and simulations.
Module 2 will be split into two parts: the first considering core political and administrative governance and decision-making for the UK. The second considering the same for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Module 2 will also consider the decision-making for non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as national lockdowns and work from home provisions. The preliminary hearing for this module will be held in Autumn 2022, with further hearings being held in Summer 2023.
Lastly, module 3 will detail the impact of Covid, and of the governmental and societal responses to it, on healthcare systems generally and on patients, hospitals and other healthcare workers. It will examine healthcare systems and governance, primary care such as GPs and dentists, and the impact Covid had on NHS backlogs and non-Covid treatment.
Baroness Heather Hallett has stated that reports will be released at the end of each module, to ensure key findings and recommendations are made available to the public as they come to light.
FTA Law have launched the Dental Alliance to allow the opportunity for professionals from across the dental sector to be given a voice in the Inquiry. The purpose is to demand answers and shape policy for the future to prevent mistakes from being repeated. The Alliance will act as a single point of contact to co-ordinate the views of the many across the sector, whose voices may otherwise not be heard.
The Alliance is led by Sarah Buxton and Lindsay Dixon of FTA Law, Solicitors specialising in the dental sector, and leading public law barrister, Sam Karim QC of Kings Chambers. We are supported by a Steering Committee of individuals representing the interests of various areas of the sector. Their role will be to liaise with the members of their respective associations to gather evidence and provide a platform for their views to be expressed.
We are applying to become Core Participants to the Inquiry; initially to module 1, the deadline for which is 16 August. This will allow us to participate in the Inquiry and to put across the views of the sector on the impact of the pandemic and lessons that can be learned for the future. This means that we would be provided with electronic disclosure of evidence in relation to the module, we would have the right to make opening and closing statements at any of the hearings and suggest lines of questioning to be undertaken by Counsel. Core participants also gain the right to apply to ask questions of witnesses in the hearings.
How can you help us?
1. Spread the word – the more people aware of and involved with what we are doing, the better. Direct people to our website www.dental-alliance.co.uk where they can sign-up to receive updates.
2. Gather your thoughts – the pandemic has had a wide-reaching effect and we are aware of many issues particularly affecting the dental sector. In due course we will be asking for your input via structured questionnaires so it would be helpful if you could start thinking about the types of issues you want to see raised at the Inquiry.
3. Show your support – having a seat at the table at the Inquiry will benefit everyone in the sector. We are seeking donations to cover the cost of this via our crowdfunding site at www.crowdjustice.com/case/
4. Follow us on social media – we are on Facebook The Dental Alliance | Facebook and LinkedIn The Dental Alliance: Company Page Admin | LinkedIn