The first duty of government should be to protect its people, not prepare the body bags

Cummings’ tweet of Government’s ‘Plan B’ March 2020
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This piece was written by Joan Twelves as a press release by Covid Action at the conclusion of Module 1 of the UK Covid Inquiry focused on whether the Government had prepared the country – our public health system, the NHS, local government and social care – for the pandemic and with sufficient resilience to cope. Keep Our NHS Public is a sponsor of Covid Action.

We also conducted the People’s Covid Inquiry in 2021 and further reading is listed at the end of the article. 


Module 1 of the Covid Inquiry has exposed the callousness and uncaring nature of the British state and its institutions.

The first duty of government should be to protect its people, not prepare the body bags.

More than a decade of austerity – imposed on the British people to pay the banks for crashing the global economy in 2008, and justified by Cameron and Osborne in their evidence to the Inquiry as preparing the economy to better face the pandemic – had brought the NHS and other public services to their knees even before Covid hit.

The probing questions of Baroness Hallett’s legal team have revealed a sorry tale of recommendations being ignored, an ideological approach totally at odds with scientific and historical methods of preventing viral infections, Brexit diverting civil service resources, questions unasked and assumptions made.

After the scandal of Partygate, the British public can hardly be surprised by these revelations. But that does not make them any more palatable.

Sioux Vosper a member of Covid Bereaved Families for Justice, who lost her father in April 2020, and who has sat through every day of Module 1, says:

Bereaved families’ stories were finally heard at the Inquiry at the end of Module 1. This was very much needed to bring the human element into the Inquiry after hearing about statistics, the economy, logistics, groups and subgroups, spaghetti charts and acronyms for six weeks. Everyone was visibly moved by our speakers, who spoke so eloquently, with dignity and from the heart. Bereaved families have been verbally abused online and in person by covid deniers and anti-vaxxers. All we want is for lessons to be learned; we don’t want anyone to go through what we have. It won’t bring back our loved ones but if our stories prepare us for the next pandemic (it will happen again) the last three years of campaigning will have been worth it. Our loved ones won’t have died in vain.

Sioux Vosper, Covid Bereaved Families for Justice

Joan Twelves from Covid Action UK added:

The purpose of the Inquiry must be to learn the lessons of the tragedy of the past three years so that we are better prepared to stop any future pandemics leading to such a disastrous and heartbreaking death toll. The omens are not good. Across the western world, governments are removing mitigations and protections, reducing data collection and the availability of vaccines. Covid has not gone away. We are campaigning along with many other groups for masking in all healthcare settings and care homes, clean air and decent ventilation in all public building, the availability of vaccines for all who want them, financial and practical support for Long Covid sufferers, and the return of free testing.

Joan Twelves, Covid Action UK


COVID ACTION is a grassroots, activist campaign of individuals and affiliated labour and trade union organisations who came together in November 2020 to challenge the UK government’s approach to the pandemic.

We support an alternative strategy, aimed at eliminating community transmission of Covid-19. We are campaigning for this to be adopted by Labour and all other political parties, the Westminster government, and the governments of the devolved nations, in order to save lives, prevent the collapse of the NHS and care systems, and stamp down on Covid-19 and all its variants.

An elimination strategy has been supported by numerous scientists, doctors, epidemiologists, and public health experts, and has been implemented by several countries around the world. We want to see Covid transmission driven down to the lowest possible levels, to stop more new variants emerging, and to end the continued threat to the lives, wellbeing, and economic potential of global communities.


Hashtag: #CovidActionNow
Email: [email protected]

▪︎ In 2021 Keep Our NHS Public organised the People’s Covid Inquiry: ‘Learn Lessons, Save Lives’: all nine session (February-June 2021), video and written testimony of over 40 witnesses, and the final report ‘Misconduct in Public Office: Why did so many thousands die?’
▪︎ Session 1 of the PCI 24 February 2021: How prepared was the NHS?
▪︎ UK Covid Inquiry website and first module: Public Inquiry Module 1 

Module 2 commences on Tuesday 3rd October 2023.

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