On 8 November, the UK Covid-19 Inquiry announced the opening of its third investigation. Module 3 will consider the impact of the pandemic on healthcare in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Module 1 is looking at the pandemic resilience and preparedness of the UK, including that of the public healthcare system. Module 3, by contrast, examines the impact of the response to the pandemic on healthcare systems and services, including on patients, doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff. Healthcare systems’ responses to the pandemic will also be considered.

As was the case for Modules 1 and 2, the scope of Module 3 is subject to comments from core participants and legal representatives. The Inquiry has, however, published a provisional scope, which lists 12 key areas of interest, including:

  • Core decision-making and leadership within healthcare systems during the pandemic;
  • Healthcare provision and treatment for patients with Covid-19, including healthcare systems’ response to clinical trials and research during the pandemic, the allocation of staff and resources, the impact on those requiring care for reasons other than Covid-19, quality of treatment for Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients, delays in treatment, palliative care, and the discharge of patients from hospital;
  • Decision-making about healthcare for patients with Covid-19, its escalation and the provision of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, including the use of do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation instructions (DNACPRs);
  • The impact of the pandemic on doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff, including on those in training and specific groups of healthcare workers (for example by reference to ethnic background); availability of healthcare staff; the NHS surcharge for non-UK healthcare staff and the decision to remove the surcharge;
  • Preventing the spread of Covid-19 within healthcare settings, including infection control, the adequacy of PPE and rules about visiting those in hospital;
  • Deaths caused by the pandemic, their number, classification, and recording, including the impact on specific groups of healthcare workers, for example by reference to ethnic background and geographical location; and
  • Characterisation and identification of post-Covid conditions (including long Covid), their diagnosis and treatment.

Given the breadth and depth of the provisional scope, it seems likely that there will be a wide range of organisations and individuals with relevant evidence to provide to the Inquiry.

The Inquiry has not, as yet, given any indication of when it intends to begin holding preliminary hearings for Module 3. It has, however, published the timeframes applicable to applications to become a Core Participant for Module 3.

The application process to become a Core Participant for Module 3 opened on 8 November and will close on 5 December at 5pm.  

Organisations or individuals who wish to apply should use the next few weeks to gather the relevant evidence and make their submissions. As ever, please get in touch with us at Bates Wells if you would like to discuss your requirements and how we might be able to assist you.