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On 8 November 2022, the Covid-19 Inquiry opened its third investigation into the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on healthcare (Module 3) and is inviting applications for "Core Participant" status.

Module 3 is part of a series of investigations announced by the Chair of the Covid-19 Inquiry (the Inquiry), Baroness Heather Hallett, to begin this year. 

The Inquiry's aim in this module is to investigate the healthcare decisions made during the pandemic and their impact, so that lessons can be learned and recommendations can be made for the future.

What will Module 3 cover?

In the context of Module 1, which is examining the UK's resilience and preparedness for a pandemic, (including the preparedness of public health services), Module 3 will examine the consequences for healthcare of the response to the pandemic. This will include looking at how the healthcare systems responded and the impact on systems and services, including on patients and healthcare staff. 

Module 3 will consider the primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare sectors and services and people’s experience of healthcare during the pandemic, including through illustrative accounts. However, care homes will be the subject of a separate module. 

The Inquiry has set out 12 key areas for investigation in the provisional scope of Module 3, including:

  • Core decision-making and leadership within healthcare systems during the pandemic.
  • Staffing levels and critical care capacity (including the establishment and use of Nightingale Hospitals and the use of private hospitals).
  • Decision-making about the nature of healthcare to be provided for patients with Covid-19 and communication with patients about their condition and treatment.
  • Preventing the spread of Covid-19 within healthcare settings (including infection control and the adequacy of PPE).
  • Shielding and the impact on the clinically vulnerable.

Click here for a detailed provisional scope of the module.

A preliminary hearing will be held in early 2023 and, if the timing of the preliminary hearings in Modules 1 and 2 can be taken as indicative, this is likely to take place in January 2023. 

Core Participants in Module 3

The application process to become a "Core Participant" for Module 3 also opened on 8 November 2022 and will close at 5 p.m. on 5 December 2022.

As noted in our last update, a Core Participant is an individual, organisation or group with a specific interest in the work of the Inquiry.

While individuals and organisations may share their experiences as part of the Inquiry's listening exercise without needing to qualify as a Core Participant, gaining Core Participant status will give them specific and important procedural rights in the Inquiry. Those rights include having access to disclosure of evidence relevant to their role, having the opportunity to make opening and closing statements at any hearing and to propose lines of questioning to be pursued by Counsel to the Inquiry. It can be especially important to have rights in the Inquiry where an organisation may have reputational or other concerns and wish to ensure their account is heard accurately.  

One factor that the Inquiry will consider when determining applications for Core Participant status is whether the applicant may be subject to criticism in the Inquiry proceedings or any subsequent report. Applications for Core Participant status will also be determined on the basis of the applicant's role played in relation to the matters under the scope of the Inquiry, and their level of interest in the matter.

If you consider that you would have Core Participant status in Module 3 and you wish to have concrete rights and a voice in the Inquiry, you should consider an application for Core Participant status.

We will continue to monitor the progress of the Inquiry and to provide regular updates. If you are considering Core Participant status and want to be involved in the Inquiry, please contact us.