The Scottish government has established its own independent statutory inquiry into the Covid-19 pandemic. The inquiry will be chaired by Lady Poole and will only consider “Scottish matters” - devolved matters that fall within the remit of the Scottish Parliament and Government and that are not reserved matters within the meaning of the Scotland Act 1998. The Scottish Inquiry will cover the period from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2022.
The Scottish COVID-19 inquiry formally opened on 25 May 2022, with the launch of a new website. Its aim is “to establish the facts of, and learn lessons from, the strategic response” to the pandemic in Scotland. It is intended to ensure that Scotland is as prepared as possible for future pandemics.
The Inquiry aims to give particular consideration the ‘four harms’ of the pandemic, which were identified as the following: -
- Direct health impacts of COVID-19, including cases and deaths in care homes;
- Other health impacts;
- Societal impacts, including education; and
- Economic impacts.
The Terms of Reference
The terms of reference are of great importance to any inquiry and are defined at the outset. They set out the scope of the inquiry. The 12 Terms of Reference for the Scottish Covid Inquiry are as follows:
- pandemic planning and exercises carried out by the Scottish Government;
- the decision to lockdown and to apply other restrictions;
- the delivery of a system of testing, outbreak management and self-isolation;
- the design and delivery of a vaccination strategy;
- the supply, distribution and use of Personal Protective Equipment;
- the requirement for shielding and associated assistance programmes, provided or supported by public agencies;
- in care and nursing homes: the transfer of residents to or from homes, treatment and care of residents, restrictions on visiting, infection prevention and control, changes to inspections;
- the provision of healthcare services, including the management and support of staff;
- the delivery of end of life care and the use of DNACPR (do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation decisions);
- welfare assistance programmes, for example those relating to benefits or the provision of food, provided or supported by public agencies;
- the delivery of education and certification; and
- financial support and guidance given to businesses and the self-employed, including in relation to identification of key workers, by public agencies.
Who will be involved?
The Pandemic had a huge effect on all Scottish society and the inquiry therefore has the potential to impact a huge number of businesses, public bodies Ind individuals.
The Terms of Reference give a clear indication of the those likely to come under the scrutiny of the Inquiry’s investigations. This group includes: -
- the Scottish Government;
- Local Authorities;
- NHS Boards;
- Private Schools;
- Care Homes and Care Providers; and
- PPE Suppliers and Distributors
Businesses of all kinds will wish to be represented in the Inquiry process given the focus on financial support extended to them throughout the pandemic. This group will also include insurers, given the huge volume of business interruption claims that were made during the pandemic. Those working in the sectors most affected by lockdowns and other restrictions – such as hospitality, retail, travel and tourism – will have an interest in the proceedings. These sectors saw huge numbers of redundancies and many businesses did not survive the measures introduced during the pandemic. Both employers – through trade organisations and employees will want to have their voices heard at the Scottish Covid Inquiry.
To read our important updates on Scottish Covid Inquiries, click here.