Bereaved North East families call for Statutory Covid Inquiry

Bereaved families in the North East have called on the government to set out when it will carry out a statutory inquiry into the handling of the Covid pandemic.

The government has so far resisted calls to hold a public inquiry while it is still dealing with the impacts of the virus, but one North East MP told ITV News the fact the families are still waiting for an inquiry is "a knife in the ribs, twisted".

Sylvia Griffiths Credit: Family Photo

Deborah Doyle's mother, Sylvia Griffiths, died last year on 16 April at her care home. At the time there was little testing capacity, but it is believed she succumbed to Covid.

Having spent the last year unable to fully grieve for her mother or to celebrate her life with close relatives, Deborah Doyle, told ITV News she wants a statutory inquiry to be held as soon as possible in order to prevent other families living through the trauma she has been exposed to in the event of a third Covid wave.

Fiona Anderson Credit: Family Photo

It was a year ago on Monday that Fiona Anderson, a community nurse from Sunderland, died aged 48 after testing positive for Coronavirus.

This week a memorial bench was unveiled at the primary care centre she worked at to enable family, friends and colleagues to take time out and remember her.

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust also announced its Community Nurse of the Year award was to be renamed the Fiona Anderson Community Nurse of the Year award.

Her sister, Sarah Anderson, told ITV News she agrees an inquiry needs to take place, but said it has to be timed right.

Tribute to Fiona Anderson Credit: ITV News

The loss and suffering of the bereaved families is the big reason that an inquiry should have already taken place, according to the Labour MP for Wansbeck, Ian Lavery.

The government told ITV News "The Government has said consistently that there will be opportunities to look back and learn lessons from our response to this unprecedented pandemic. The Prime Minister has confirmed this will include an independent inquiry at the appropriate time but currently the Government is rightly focused on protecting public health and saving lives through the vaccination programme and the covid restrictions in place.”

But one legal expert who specialises in major public inquiries said the best form of inquiry has to be a "statutory inquiry" to ensure all important questions are adequately answered.