In December 2023, Module 6 of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry (Inquiry) opens, to examine the UK care sector's response to the pandemic. Applications for "Core Participant" status in relation to this module will be open from 12 December 2023 to 19 January 2024.
We consider the scope of Module 6 and how your organisation can be involved below.
From the Inquiry's Terms of Reference, we anticipate Module 6 covering the response of the health and care sector to the pandemic across the UK, including preparedness, capacity and resilience and the management of the pandemic in care homes and other care settings. It will also look at infection prevention and control, the transfer of residents to or from homes, treatment and care of residents, restrictions on visiting, workforce testing and changes to inspections.
A provisional outline of scope for Module 6 will be published by the Inquiry when Module 6 opens. We will provide a further update as to scope when this is available.
The Inquiry will begin hearing evidence in relation to Module 6 in spring 2025. As to the nature of evidence witnesses and Core Participants may be called to give, the hearings of the Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry (which has been considering health and social care since October 2023) provide valuable insight. So far, evidence has been on the impact of pandemic restrictions on residents of nursing homes and their relatives, the impact on care home providers and the use of DNR notices in care homes.
At its simplest, a Core Participant is someone who will play a key role in the Inquiry process. In relation to Module 6, this could be any individual, organisation or group that played a significant role or had a significant interest in the care sector during the pandemic.
Core Participants in relation to health and social care in the Scottish Inquiry include Scottish Care, the umbrella body for private care homes in Scotland; Independent Care Homes Scotland, a group of some of Scotland's leading care home operators established specifically for the purpose of the Scottish Inquiry; and PAMIS (Profound and Multiple Impairment Service), an organisation supporting people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. It is anticipated that the Inquiry will hear from similar organisations in due course.
Our previous article considers in greater depth the role of a Core Participant and the benefits of becoming one.
Individuals, organisations and groups who have played a direct and significant role in relation to social care and the matters to which Module 6 relates or have a significant interest in those matters should consider an application for Core Participant status, especially those which receive a Rule 9 request (a request by the Inquiry for written evidence on specific matters) and where there may be reputational or other concerns.
Should you be considering an application for Core Participant status or otherwise require advice in relation to the Inquiry, please contact us.