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John’s Campaign, Relatives & Residents Association and Patients Association have Core Participant Status for healthcare module of Covid Inquiry

John’s Campaign, Relatives & Residents Association and the Patients Association have been granted Core Participant Status for Module 3 of the Covid Inquiry. Module 3 will consider the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on healthcare systems in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Posted on 28 February 2023

This will include consideration of the healthcare consequences of how the governments and the public responded to the pandemic. It will examine the capacity of healthcare systems to respond to a pandemic and how this evolved during the Covid-19 pandemic. It will consider the primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare sectors and services and people’s experience of healthcare during the pandemic, including through illustrative accounts. It will also examine healthcare-related inequalities (such as in relation to death rates, PPE and oximeters), with further detailed consideration to follow in a separate designated module.
 
As Core Participants, John’s Campaign, Relatives and Residents Association and the Patients Association will be able to see investigation evidence, make statements at Inquiry hearings and suggest lines of questioning to counsel to the the Inquiry. The organisations will be working to ensure that the experience of healthcare service users is a key consideration in the Inquiry’s analysis.
 
John’s Campaign, led by Julia Jones and Nicci Gerrard, works across the UK to support people separated from their loved ones in health and care settings.
 
The Relatives & Residents Association is a national charity championing the rights of older people needing care. It provides a specialist helpline for expert advice on care issues for older people, and their relatives and friends.
 
The Patients Association is an independent patient charity campaigning for improvements in health and social care for patients. Through its helpline it provides information to thousands of people each year about the health and social care system.

All three organisations are represented by law firm Leigh Day. John’s Campaign is represented by Leigh Day partner, Tessa Gregory and Relatives and Residents Association and the Patients Association are represented by Leigh Day partner, Emma Jones.
 
Throughout the Covid 19 pandemic, John’s Campaign waged a legal campaign for the rights of family members to visit and be involved in the care of their loved ones in care homes.
Represented by Tessa Gregory and Carolin Ott, the charity convinced the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to change guidance to care homes in line with human rights laws.
 
Relatives & Residents Association supported John’s Campaign in its legal campaign which included two applications to the High Court, which were subsequently withdrawn after guidance was changed. The charity, led by Helen Wildbore, provided a national voice for families whose loved ones were isolated in care homes during the pandemic because of severe visiting restrictions. Emma Jones and Beatrice Morgan worked with Relatives & Residents Association during the pandemic to assist them with their work.
 
During the pandemic, the Patients Association monitored the experiences of patients, including with regular surveys which gave it insight to inform evidence to the Covid Inquiry. It has warned that the health emergency disrupted the relationship between patients and the NHS, and has raised concerns about the long term consequences for patients.
 
A preliminary hearing took place today, 28 February 2023.
 
All three organisations look forward to working with the Covid Inquiry.
 
Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, said:
 
“Many patients had a torrid time during the pandemic. Services many relied on were withdrawn or delivered in ways that weren’t accessible, there was confusion about who was considered vulnerable,  and being unable to be with sick relatives in hospital was traumatising.  We are looking forward, as Core Participants, to sharing what patients have told us to ensure it’s clear to the Government the knock-on effects of its decisions. Understanding this will help prepare for future public health challenges.” 
 
Helen Wildbore of Relatives and Residents Association said:
 
“Throughout the pandemic, people needing care were failed by the very systems designed to protect their human rights. Their health needs were neglected and their lives put at risk by policies which put the interests of institutions above the rights of people. We look forward to working with the inquiry to seek answers for these failings and learn lessons so that this never happens again.”
 
Julia Jones of John’s Campaign said:
 
“Across the UK countless lives have been permanently damaged, not by Covid-19 but by the impact of separation and isolation imposed on those least able to cope without the support of those they love. Millions of people who were prevented from caring for loved ones in the last period of their lives feel they can 'never' get over this. The Inquiry needs to help these people find closure while ensuring that Never Again should decisions be taken with such apparent disregard for individual human rights and the laws which should protect our most vulnerable.”
 
Tessa Gregory, who represents John’s Campaign said:
 
“It was individuals needing care and their families, along with healthcare staff, who experienced the sharp-edge of the pandemic response in all types of healthcare settings and who were most acutely affected by the decisions that were made. Our clients will be seeking to ensure as Core Participants that the voices of those who suffered are heard and that the negative impacts and the human cost of decisions made are properly understood to ensure they are never repeated again.”
 
Emma Jones, who represents Relatives and Residents Association and the Patients Association said:
 
“In our written submissions to the Inquiry we have asked the Chair to include in the Module 3 investigation a line of enquiry relating to the impact of ongoing restrictions. Although the Inquiry’s terms of reference state that it “will examine, consider and report on preparations and the response to the pandemic in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, up to and including the Inquiry’s formal setting-up date, 28 June 2022”, a comprehensive investigation of the response to the pandemic in the context of Module 3 must include an analysis of how that response has precipitated enduring changes to healthcare provision.  As lawyers working with these organisations we see first hand that the restrictions are still impacting on those who are most vulnerable in our society.”
 

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Tessa Gregory
Corporate accountability Human rights Judicial review Planning Wildlife

Tessa Gregory

Tessa is an experienced litigator who specialises in international and domestic human rights law cases

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Emma Jones

Emma Jones

Emma runs the team working on the contaminated blood inquiry 

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