North West Families demand answers as the Covid Inquiry gets underway

  • Video report by Granada Reports political correspondent Líse McNally

People from the North West have been sharing their experiences as the Covid-19 inquiry gets underway.

Nigel Gilmore from Manchester was 55 years old when he died. His wife Evelyn said: "The thing that hurts most is that my husband doesn't need to be dead.

Evelyn Gilmore lost her husband Nigel during the pandemic

"He didn't need to die. My husband's dead because he went to work because our Government left it too late to lockdown.

"They had the information, and they knew better, they just wanted to bank a bit of extra tax before they had to shut the shops "

Maria Esslinger-Raven from Lancashire worked as a midwife throughout the pandemic. She now suffers from Long Covid has breathing problems and chronic pain. She hopes the inquiry will mean better protection for frontline staff.

Maria Esslinger-Raven has Long Covid. She has breathing problems and chronic pain

She said "Everyone left their homes, everyone left their families, we were all terrified. There wasn't enough PPE to go round and even when we did start producing it, the PPE we were getting was fragile, breaking, it wasn't up to standard.

"We knew surgical masks were not appropriate for covid, we knew they didn't protect us, but we were giving them to people saying 'this will protect you' when it didn't.

"So not only are you endangering those people on those hospital wards from their carers, but you're then endangering the carers and everyone else whose also providing care.

"So I think the government need to have a long look at themselves and see what they did wrong and acknowledge that."

Two years after the then-prime minister Boris Johnson announced a public inquiry would be set up, chairwoman Baroness Heather Hallet formerly opened the first substantive hearing, in London, on Tuesday.

Baroness Hallett has presided over a number of high-profile inquests and reviews

Amos Waldman from Stockport set up the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign group after losing his grandmother. He was unable to see her as she died. He said "Lady Hallett said we as bereaved families would be front and centre. At the moment it doesn't really feel like that.

Amos Waldman lost his grandmother during the pandemic

"We wanted to put forward witnesses who would be able to give really important evidence, not just memorial evidence but important evidence as to what they went through so lessons could be learnt.

"Just 1 of 20 families who were put forward are giving evidence - that's crucial evidence that we feel is missing from this inquiry."

It has been nearly two years since this Inquiry was called and families are desperate for answers. With so much to examine - and so much at stake - today is just the start of a very long journey.  

Boris Johnson announced the public inquiry would be set up two years ago