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People’s Covid Inquiry reveals shocking background into Covid crisis with NHS underfunding

THE People’s Covid Inquiry has highlighted the disastrous effects of decades-long NHS chronic underfunding which left it struggling to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

In its first of eight sessions on Wednesday night, the inquiry, led by Keep Our NHS Public (KONP), featured testimony from leading academics in health, who detailed the reasons the NHS was so close to being overwhelmed at the start of the pandemic.

The inquiry, set up following the government’s refusal to hold a public inquiry into its handling of the crisis, also heard testimony from key workers and members of the public.

Government NHS policy over the last 10 years has starved the health service of vital capacity which would have helped it to cope with the pandemic last year, the session heard.

University College London (UCL) Institute of Health Equity director Professor Sir Michael Marmot said: “The greater the need, the greater the reduction in spending.
 
“How come we had a poor health record coming into the pandemic, and then a disastrous record of managing the pandemic?”

This, he said, was down to the government’s disinvestment in the public sector and the failure to increase funding in line with NHS inflation.
 
Independent Sage member Professor Gabriel Scally said: “I think much of the readiness within the state had disappeared by the time the pandemic hit. 

“From 2010 onwards, in particular, there was a hollowing out of the state to the structures and organisation of many of the relevant services.

“And, the NHS of course moved too with the reforms to a commissioning and contracting model. The public health structure … and local authority had a much-reduced role and much-reduced resources. 

“From a health perspective, there was a phenomenal decrease and a move to a contracting commission culture, and almost to a night watchman state where the government did very little and it was left to other forces to play out the handling [of the pandemic].”

Bereaved families for justice group co-founder Jo Goodman said: “I lost my dad. He was one of those who lost his life because the lockdown came too late and because vulnerable people weren’t effectively protected. 

“My dad received his shielding letter nine days after he passed away.”

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