HomeHealthCovid inquiry: What is it investigating and how does it work?

Covid inquiry: What is it investigating and how does it work?

The second round of public hearings for the Covid inquiry in the UK will begin on 3 October. These sessions will focus on the response of the central government, the decision-making process of ministers and politicians, and the collaboration between Westminster and the devolved administrations. The government initially challenged the inquiry’s request for WhatsApp messages from former prime minister Boris Johnson but was later compelled by the High Court to provide them. Public inquiries are established and funded by the government but led by an independent chairperson. They address public concerns, demand evidence, and publish lessons learned without finding anyone guilty or innocent. Baroness Hallett, who led the inquests into the 7 July London bombings, is leading the Covid inquiry. Work has already begun in four areas, and future strands will cover various topics related to the pandemic. There is no specific timeline for the inquiry’s duration. The second round of public hearings will examine decisions made by the prime minister, cabinet ministers, and advice received from experts during the early stages of the pandemic. The first round of public hearings included evidence from independent experts, government officials, and ministers, such as former health secretaries Jeremy Hunt and Matt Hancock, former prime minister David Cameron, and Nicola Sturgeon, former first minister of Scotland. The inquiry heard from prominent figures like Sir Chris Whitty, Prof Dame Sally Davies, and Sir Patrick Vallance. The public can participate in the inquiry by sharing their experiences through the Every Story Matters project. The inquiry sought ministers’ WhatsApp messages to gather relevant information, and although there was a delay in providing messages sent by Mr Johnson, they were eventually provided. The next set of public hearings, focusing on the impact of the pandemic on healthcare systems, is expected to take place in the autumn of 2024.