1 April 2022

Covid-19 Public Inquiry – Terms of Reference

Written by Stephanie Johnston

On Thursday, 10th March 2022, the British Government published the draft terms of reference for the UK Covid-19 Inquiry (‘the Inquiry’). To review the draft terms of reference please click here. The Inquiry will examine, consider and report on preparations and the response to the pandemic in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Inquiry proposes to examine a number of key issues including:

  • Central, devolved and local public health decision making and its consequences;
  • The response of the health and care sector across the UK; and
  • The economic response to the pandemic and its impact, including government interventions.

The key objectives of the Inquiry will be to identify any lessons to be learned and thereby to inform the UK’s preparations for future pandemics.

The Inquiry Chair, Baroness Hallett, has stated that the Inquiry team will be gathering evidence throughout this year and hopes to begin public hearings in 2023.

Will there be a separate Covid-19 Inquiry in Northern Ireland?

The Scottish government has established its own public inquiry to examine the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in Scotland. For further information on Scotland’s Covid-19 Inquiry please click here.

Mr Robin Swann, Health Minister, has indicated that he may establish a public inquiry into the response to Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, saying that, “it is important that the response to the Covid-19 pandemic will be reviewed in a local context and that will include the handling of Covid-19 in our care homes”. Northern Ireland’s Commissioner for Older People has also called for a separate inquiry into how the pandemic was managed within care homes. At the time of writing, however, no Northern Ireland specific public inquiry has been announced. This may be an issue that will be addressed by the NI Executive/ Assembly in the next mandate.

If you would like any further information or advice, please contact Stephanie Johnston or a member of our Healthcare team.

This information is for guidance purposes only and does not constitute, nor should be regarded, as a substitute for taking legal advice that is tailored to your circumstances.

About the author

Stephanie Johnston

Senior Associate

Stephanie Johnston is a Senior Associate in the Healthcare team at Carson McDowell. Stephanie specialises in defending doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals in relation to Professional Disciplinary/ regulatory cases, which includes investigations by the General Medical Council, General Dental Council, the Medical Council (Ireland), the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman and investigations commenced by health and social care trusts under the MHPS Framework.

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