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NHS doctor considers further legal action after Cygnus Exercise findings leaked to the Guardian

An NHS doctor who was bringing judicial review proceedings against the government's refusal to publish the findings of the Cygnus Exercise is considering his next move after the report was published in a leak to a national newspaper.

Posted on 07 May 2020

Dr Moosa Qureshi was going to issue legal proceedings next week after the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care refused to publish the findings of the 2016 exercise simulating the NHS response to a flu pandemic.
The findings of the report had been reported to be “too terrifying” for publication.
Last week elements of the report were published in The Sun newspaper. Today a version of the report appears to have been published in full by the Guardian newspaper after it was provided with a leaked copy.
Dr Qureshi, represented by Leigh Day solicitors, is disappointed that the Government has failed to be transparent during a national crisis which has claimed over 30,000 lives including the lives of many healthcare professionals.

He is analysing the report published by the Guardian and carefully considering next steps in order to assess what further action might be appropriate, including whether disclosure of further information, such as information and documents regarding the way in which the report has informed policy decisions, need to be disclosed.
Dr Moosa Qureshi said: 
"I welcome the Guardian's investigation which has uncovered a version of the Cygnus Report. However, many questions remain unanswered about Exercise Cygnus.  Where is the raw data which informed Cygnus, and has it been analysed independently by the scientific community? What was the response to the Report from key stakeholders such as the boards of NHS England and NHS Improvement, the CMO, and the CSA?

"What precisely were the Report's findings with regard to PPE and ventilator capacity, and how were these acted on? Why did the Government ignore clear early warning signs about care homes? How has implementation of the report's recommendations been audited?

"Are there other similar classified reports for other public health threats? Most importantly of all, what can we learn from Exercise Cygnus to help us address the UK Government's failed management strategy and prepare us for a second wave of the pandemic?"
Leigh Day solicitor Tessa Gregory said:
“It is disappointing that the Government refused to publish the Cygnus Report and that this information has had to come to light through a leak to the media.  Our client finds it astonishing that the Government has sought to keep the lessons and recommendations of Exercise Cygnus secret when it was an exercise undertaken at taxpayers’ expense in order to protect their health against a high-risk civil emergency.

"He will be looking to ensure that the Government now acts transparently and provides full disclosures of all matters in relation to Exercise Cygnus and that nothing is left hidden from healthcare professionals and the wider public.”