Litigation and Disputes, Topics for Individuals

Ministers refuse inquiry into PPE

Ministers face legal challenge after refusing an inquiry into the PPE deficit

Ministers are currently facing legal challenge after refusing to order an investigation into the shortage of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) available to NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Court proceedings were issued by lawyers earlier this month which they hope will lead to a judicial review of the government’s actions. A judicial review is a review of the lawfulness of actions taken by a public body. In other words, it is a way for the applicant to challenge the way a decision was made, in this case the refusal to order an inquiry into the PPE deficit faced by the NHS.

Many health workers have died as a result of COVID-19 and bereaved families claim that inadequate PPE was a key factor in these perhaps avoidable deaths. This case is being brought against Matt Hancock who is the health and social care secretary by the Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK), the Good Law Project and charity Hourglass. This is a crowdfunded case and at the time this article was published more than sixty thousands pounds was raised for the legal costs associated with bring this case against the government (read more here).

The government’s lawyers claim that the inquiry was unnecessary and that it would have distracted key bodies involved in arranging the supply of PPE. In their ten-page reply, the government said that this inquiry was not necessary.

“We are appalled at the government’s refusal to urgently commission an independent public inquiry to examine all the facts from the planning to the procurement to the provision of PPE and learn lessons. A review is imperative if we are to avoid a repeat of the conditions seen during the first wave of the pandemic,” said Dr Parmar, the Doctors’ Association chair.

Coronavirus is far from over and the world is still battling the havoc wreaked by the virus to date. PPE is an important tool for ensuring the safety of NHS workers. Reports have shown that there is an inadequate supply of usually outdated PPE available to workers which falls short of international standards. The question is whether further action will be taken by the government to protect the NHS and its dedicated staff who have worked relentlessly during this epidemic to save the lives of many.

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