There must be a full public inquiry into the government’s handling of the Covid crisis as soon as the worst of the pandemic is over, says UNISON today on the anniversary of the first lockdown.
The union – which represents 1.3m NHS, care and other public service workers, including porters, midwives and refuse collectors – wants any investigation to enable the voices of frontline staff to be heard, for lessons to be learned and those responsible for failings to be held to account.
UNISON also urged people to take a moment today to remember the more than 126,000 people who have lost their lives in the past year, including hundreds of public service workers.
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “It’s important everyone takes a moment on this sombre day to remember the countless lives lost. A year ago, none of us could have imagined the death toll from this devastating virus.
“The success of the vaccination programme has shown the NHS at its best. But the government has come up short in protecting the nation, especially frontline workers. Many staff have been left desperate, frightened and traumatised as a result.
“Lockdowns have come too late, NHS employees had to deal with the terrible consequences, and social care was effectively abandoned at a terrible cost to residents and staff.
“This year has shone a spotlight on the poor state of the social care sector and on how health service staff are pushed to burnout.
“A full public inquiry is needed so these mistakes aren’t repeated. The government owes it to all those who are grieving the death of loved ones.
“There’s also no better way for ministers to show they value staff by awarding a decent pay rise to the health and social care workforce.”