Thousands of doctors have begun legal action demanding the government launch a public inquiry to investigate the failure to provide NHS and care staff with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).
The legal challenge is being brought by the Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) and the Good Law Project. Nearly 200 NHS and care workers have died after becoming infected with the coronavirus.
In a pre-action legal letter to the Department of Health and Social Care, the doctors say they support the government’s efforts to mitigate the crisis caused by the pandemic but are “deeply concerned” about the “failure to procure and supply adequate PPE”.
DAUK said the deaths of healthcare workers were a “tragedy. We had a pandemic stockpile of PPE lacking essential items like full gowns and eye protection; other equipment was out of date. There has been recurrent and systemic failure of the PPE supply chain, leaving staff in some instances with makeshift or no PPE.”
The barrister Jolyon Maugham, of the Good Law Project, which aims to use the law to improve society, said: “We must never be forced to ask NHS and care home workers to risk their lives again. We must learn the lessons from recent history. And we must learn them quickly, before the second and third waves of the pandemic.”