This article was written by the two founder members of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK Jo Goodman and Matt Fowler.
Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK was formed at the end of April by us, Jo Goodman and Matt Fowler, after losing our Dads to the virus during the height of the pandemic. Though we were both grieving and trying to come to terms with the sudden and unexpected losses we had experienced, we were absolutely adamant that we needed to do what we could to help other people as best as we could. Our first objective was to provide a community to support the bereaved and help to put them in touch with grief counsellors and therapists and highlight what little bereavement support the government made available as it was very apparent that no effort was being made by the Government itself to actually help or advise people.
Right from the start, however, we were focused on the eventual aim of challenging the Government over their strategies. We were, and remain convinced that the Prime Minister paid more heed to the economic effect of the pandemic than on the human cost and we are trying to influence them to prioritise public safety in the future.
From our perspective, it is absolutely critical that there are lessons learned from those first weeks to prevent the same approach being used in any future waves. These lessons refer to the way that information was passed down to the public, the triggers for actions such as lockdown and crucially the level of preparedness that the country maintains for world events like this one.
Demanding a public inquiry
To this end, we are calling for an independent statutory public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic with an immediate first phase aiming to highlight the failings that would indicate and immediate danger to public safety.
We know this can be done. After the Hillsborough disaster, the Taylor Inquiry made quick recommendations to ensure that there wouldn’t be any repetition. All we’re asking, is for our Government to do the same.
Our NHS was dealt a losing hand before the pandemic even began in China, let alone coming to the UK. The little information that we have regarding Operation Cygnus tells us that there was knowledge of inadequacies in our ability to handle a viral outbreak like this in 2016. It has been well documented that there was a shortage of PPE for both medical professionals and their patients, there wasn’t an effective pandemic plan in place and even the committee designated to reacting to a pandemic had been dissolved in October last year.
For us, it was entirely reprehensible that the messages from Government in reference to those shortages, essentially accused medical professionals of misusing the PPE they did have. Even now, the Government tries to shift the blame onto the NHS and Public Health England. This is something that is completely unacceptable. Right now, more than ever, we need a publically available, well-funded and capable public health service that can support those bereaved in the pandemic.
An inquiry will ask the questions about why we are here, grieving, feeling let down, ignored and forgotten. It will be instrumental in establishing the indisputable facts about what decisions were made and why. Most importantly, this will enable policies to be enforced that will counter those failures that led to over 46,000 deaths and ensure that lives are saved moving forward. We stand in support of the NHS and the hard work and sacrifices made by our frontline workers. We ask you to stand in support of our campaign. Together we can make a difference for the country as a whole.
There are three quick and easy ways that you can help: