Coronavirus: Calls on Government to Plan Public Inquiry


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The government must make plans for an investigation into its management of the coronavirus pandemic, said the health services ombudsman.

It is not a question of blaming the staff, but of “learning from it,” he said.

Ombudsman Rob Behrens said patients are reporting concerns about the cancellation of cancer treatment and the incorrect Covid-19 test results.

The ministers did not commit to an investigation, but agreed that there were lessons to be learned.

The Mediator of the Parliamentary and Health Services (PHSO) stopped investigating complaints against the NHS on March 26, allowing him to focus on fighting the Covid-19 epidemic.

But people continued to phone with these concerns, said Behrens.

And the canceled treatment and poor coronavirus test results have become major themes.

“Complaining when something has gone wrong should not be criticizing doctors, nurses or other frontline officials, who have often been under extraordinary pressure in the face of the Covid-19 crisis,” he said. he declares.

“It’s about systematically identifying where things went wrong and making sure lessons are learned so that mistakes don’t happen again. ”

Behrens said he had written to the government on May 19 asking for information on the scope of any future investigation, but had received no response.

Hearing the real experiences of people who used NHS services during the pandemic should be part of any future review of government management of the pandemic, he added.

And an “independent, rapid and urgent” review could have an impact on policy in the event of a second wave of infections.

He said that if the government were to continue to focus on the current crisis, there were already themes “from which we can learn lessons”.

“You can do both things,” he said.

Last month, a group of leading scientists and medical experts wrote to the government asking for an urgent public inquiry into the response to Covid-19. They warned that without it, more lives could be lost if there was a second peak of cases.

Relatives of 450 people who died during the pandemic also called for an immediate public review to minimize the lingering effects of the virus, before a thorough investigation.

And a number of MPs have said they will form a multi-stakeholder parliamentary group in support of an urgent investigation into the government’s handling of the crisis.

Patient stories

On Tuesday, during a testimony session with members of the House of Commons, patients described the problems they had encountered due to the cancellation of care.

Knee surgery patient Rob Martinez said he had heard nothing from his doctors.

“He became so silent. I was so close to having it, then it was canceled and it was absolutely devastating, “he said.

Daloni Carlisle said, “My doctors told me that I needed chemotherapy. I then fell into a hole where I was absolutely in limbo.

“I had absolutely no communication as to when this chemotherapy could start. So, for most of the confinement, I sat here at home knowing that all the cancer is developing, knowing that the tumors in my lungs, in my liver, in my spine are growing and absolutely none word from the hospital about when treatment could start.

“I can’t tell you how difficult this limbo period was. ”

Behrens said people should report their complaints to the PHSO office if they haven’t been resolved through the local service’s complaint process, “otherwise other people may experience the same flaws.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted Tuesday that the Nightingale hospitals, set up to treat coronavirus patients if existing hospitals overflow, will be converted to cancer screening centers.

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