No10's Covid inquiry WILL probe impact of lockdowns on mental health

No10’s independent Covid inquiry WILL probe impact of lockdowns on mental health and young people

No10’s long-awaited independent Covid inquiry will examine the impact of lockdowns on the nation’s mental health and children.

Officials revealed the scope of the probe would be broadened to include the wider impacts of pandemic restrictions in an update today. 

There were fears the inquiry would fall into the same trap as a House of Commons report last year that concluded ministers should have locked down for longer.

Since then, data has accrued suggesting the benefits of lockdowns were overblown and the wider consequences were underestimated.

The inquiry is being led by Baroness Heather Hallett, who put out a public consultation on the inquiry’s draft topics last month.

After reviewing the more than 20,000 responses, the main complaint among civic groups was that the terms of reference were too narrow.

The inquiry will now aim to examine the pandemic’s unequal impact on ethnic minority groups, children and mental health.

Children saw massive disruptions to their education during the pandemic despite being at a vanishingly small risk of the virus.

Psychiatrists have described the pandemic as the ‘biggest hit’ to mental wellbeing in generations, following a record 4.3million mental health referrals in 2021.

Baroness Heather Hallett will lead the inquiry and has urged people to provide feedback on the draft topics they are set to probe 

Other topics include Government preparedness, testing, borders, infection control in hospitals and care homes, PPE, vaccines, furlough and sick pay.

In a letter sent to Boris Johnson today, Baroness Hallett also asked to expand the terms of reference to include collaboration between officials and charities across the UK’s four nations within the inquiry’s scope.

The inquiry, poised to begin in the next few months, will have the power to summon witnesses to give evidence under oath — even the Prime Minister.

It has been tasked with examining the UK’s response to the pandemic, with the goal of ensuring the country learns ‘the right lessons for the future’. 

Campaigners last month called for ‘any rule-breaking by any rule-makers’, such as Partygate, to be investigated as part of the inquiry.

More to follow

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