Too many NHS staff have died - we need a public inquiry

by Jo Maugham QC

Too many NHS staff have died - we need a public inquiry

by Jo Maugham QC
Jo Maugham QC
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Good Law Project is a not for profit that uses strategic litigation for a better world.
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Jo Maugham QC
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Frontline NHS staff and care workers are putting their lives at risk because of the Government's failure to provide adequate PPE. Doctors are wearing visors made by teenagers on 3D printers. Care workers are being told to share the same mask. The protective gowns that the Government flew in from Turkey are sitting in a warehouse gathering dust - many have been deemed unsafe for use. UK manufacturers who have offered to help are sitting by the phones waiting for Government to respond.

The consequences of these failures are devastating. Hundreds of those on the frontline of this crisis have lost their lives. The Government has said lessons will be learnt in time. But those on the frontline of this crisis can’t afford to wait.

The Government has a legal duty to hold an urgent inquiry into its failures to get adequate PPE to NHS staff and care workers and we are taking legal action along with the Doctors' Association UK to hold them to it. The Government needs to know exactly what has gone wrong, and is continuing to go wrong. Coronavirus is unpredictable, and there are very likely to be future waves. Unless we understand the failings now, unless we learn from them, we risk making the same mistakes all over again.

A society that does not learn from its mistakes is condemned to repeat them.

This is also about getting answers for the families of the individual NHS and social care workers who have lost their lives. Each death will be investigated by a coroner, but without an independent inquiry, it is likely different coroners’ courts will reach inconsistent or conflicting views on the role PPE played in their deaths. The families deserve better.

We believe that such an investigation is required, as a matter of law, by Human Rights Act 1998 s 6 and Schedule 1, Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. You can read our formal letter to Matt Hancock here.

The Claimants: 
The Doctors’ Association UK
The Good Law Project

The details:
Litigation of this scale and importance is undeniably difficult and expensive. The Good Law Project has instructed the best legal team available: Paul Bowen QC, Tim Johnston and Emma Mockford of Brick Court Chambers and Bindmans LLP. Most of the legal work to date is entirely unpaid and the team will work at well below market rates unless the case succeeds.

10% of the sums raised will go to Good Law Project to help it develop and support further litigation to help the public interest. It is our policy only to raise sums that we reasonably anticipate could be spent on this litigation. However, if there is a surplus it will go to support and enable other litigation we bring. Our founder, Jo Maugham QC, continues to work unpaid.

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