Senior academic tells People’s Covid Inquiry Government is “suppressing the release of information”

Last night Wednesday 2 June 2021 at the eighth session of campaigning organisation Keep Our NHS Public’s [1] People’s Covid Inquiry, [2] entitled Impact on families, NHS staff and Mental Health [3] the panel heard from Professor Stephen Reicher (St Andrews University, participant in SPI-B (SAGE) and Advisory Group to Scottish CMO on Covid-19) who spoke about the government’s messaging:

“Their positioning of the public as a problem I think, is one of the fundamental failures of government… SPI-B [SAGE] wrote a paper to point out how the change in messaging [to ‘Stay Alert’] went against the principles put forward and that went forward to the government and the government have systematically ignored it ever since, so you get this double level of ignoring; they ignore, we then show them a paper to show the damage done by ignoring things, and then that’s ignored again… right from the start the government ignored evidence…now they’re beginning I think, almost to manage and suppress data…its beginning to look as if the government actually has got to a stage where its not just spinning or ignoring information…its actually managing politically the release of information, and even suppressing the release of information, and I think that’s very serious indeed.”

The inquiry session also explored the wellbeing of the population during the pandemic, with a focus on the welfare and mental health needs of NHS and frontline staff, families and young people. The Government’s decisions and how it communicated them to the public have had a major impact on the public’s responses, wellbeing and safety.

The Panel, chaired by renowned human rights barrister Michael Mansfield QC, also heard testimony from a research team on the comparative mental health impact on frontline health staff in two different countries – the UK and Ireland; an NHS CAMHS nurse working with children and young people; and from a young person, a citizen witness who testified to her experience in lockdown and of losing members of her family to Covid.

Watch the session here:

Spokespeople are available for interview (subject to availability). Contact Samantha Wathen, Press Officer for Keep Our NHS Public [email protected] or Call/WhatsApp: 0777 6047472

Notes to editors

  1. Keep Our NHS Public is a national independent organisation campaigning for a well-funded, publicly owned and provided NHS
  2.  A host of leading academics, celebrities, campaigning groups and unions together with frontline workers and members of the public, will give evidence in an attempt to learn lessons from the events surrounding this pandemic. In the absence of an arranged formal public investigation, campaigners believe that the time for a Covid Inquiry is now, in order to analyse why this country has suffered over 100,000 deaths, and what lessons should be learned to inform future decision and policy making. The People’s Covid Inquiry will culminate in a report with conclusions and a set of recommendations which will be presented to the government. Testimony gathered will provide the basis for evidence-based recommendations on the provision of health and social care in the UK, including the future funding and organisation of the NHS. Sessions are free to access and open to all.