Last Thursday in the House of Commons my MP, Caroline Lucas asked a very clear question and was ignored by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock. Sadly she and many other MPs do get ignored by this Government and whilst there are only a few MPs speaking each day, they all represent a much larger number of people who are their constituents and other people on whose behalf they are speaking. How can we raise the profile of such questions? The question was raised by Caroline in a debate under the title of “Covid-19: Government Handling and Preparedness” and the question was as follows:
The families of the bereaved deserve better than the grotesque pantomime of the Cummings evidence session yesterday. At the very least, they deserve the publication of the internal lessons learned review. A constituent of mine whose father died from covid acquired in hospital wrote to me to say that the refusal to release it is
“an insult to bereaved family members, who, in the midst of our own suffering, are determined to prevent other families from experiencing the loss we have”.
She is right because the big question is not just about mistakes the Government made last March, but why Ministers never learn from those errors and continue on a path that risks lives and livelihoods. The Secretary of State says he is being straight with the public and this House, so as continued Government negligence risks a third wave of the pandemic, will he finally publish that review urgently, not least so that it can be scrutinised before restrictions are due to be lifted next month?
It was a very brief response from Matt Hancock and his focus had nothing to do with the question and tragically he was assuming that Caroline Lucas had not been promoting vaccination which was not the case. Indeed two months ago she raised the theme very significantly along with a number of other Sussex MPs as I wrote here. So back to the response from Matt Hancock who is capable of publishing the the internal lessons learned review but clearly does not want to do so.
Of course, we learn lessons all the way through and we follow the scientific developments that teach us more about this virus all the way through, and then we will also have a full inquiry afterwards to make sure that we can learn further lessons for the future. The thing I did not quite understand about the hon. Lady’s question is why she did not refer to the single most important programme that is saving lives, which is the vaccination programme. She should be urging her constituents and others to come forward and get the jab because that is our way out of this pandemic.
The news of the internal lessons review emerged in public a few weeks earlier. Back on the 12th May this piece appeared in the Huffington Post written by Paul Waugh with the headline
No.10 Admits Whitehall Has Conducted Secret ‘Lessons Learned’ Review On Covid
Downing Street says the procedure is “not public facing”
Followed by this words at the beginning of the piece
The government has conducted a secret “lessons learned” review on the Covid pandemic but is refusing to publish it, Downing Street has admitted.
Whitehall civil servants in the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have conducted internal assessments of what went wrong to improve best practice, HuffPost UK has been told.
Boris Johnson announced a statutory inquiry into the pandemic on Wednesday, but the prime minister’s official spokesman later confirmed that at least one review has already been completed.
Which goes on to suggest that the report may well have to be published in a Freedom of Information request. However understandably many of us would much prefer a proper publication than the impact that of Freedom of Information. After all the Government should be willing to respond to such matters to the people who represent their constituents.