Mansfield's Labour leader demands urgent public enquiry into Covid response

The mayor of Mansfield has urged the Government to hold its enquiry into the country’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic ‘immediately’ to avoid repeating mistakes as we head into winter.

Monday, 18th October 2021, 4:00 pm

Andy Abrahams, speaking as Mansfield’s Labour leader, called for the speedy enquiry, ‘so mistakes are not repeated as we enter the critical winter period’.

His call came after a damning report into the Government’s handling of the pandemic by parliament’s Health and Social Care, and Science and Technology committees.

It said the late lockdown in the early stages of the pandemic was ‘one of the most important public health failures the UK has ever experienced’ andthe start of the NHS Test and Trace system was ‘slow, uncertain and often chaotic’, although the UK’s vaccination programme was praised.

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Andy Abrahams, Mansfield mayor and Labour leader.

The Government has pledged to hold a public enquiry – but not until spring.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the delay was necessary to avoid putting too much stress on the NHS, advisers and government while there was the risk of a winter surge.

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Casual attitude

However, Mr Abrahams. highlighting that more than 300 people have died from Covid in Mansfield, said: “The report didn’t tell us anything we didn’t know – that despite the advantage of seeing the effects of Covid elsewhere, the Government’s failure to take it seriously from January-May 2019 led to the UK having the highest death toll in Europe and the worst economic downturn.

“The government’s casual attitude from the outset meant tens of thousands of lives were lost unnecessarily.

“Despite advice from experts, the government ‘dragged its feet’ on test and trace and lockdowns.

“The most vulnerable in our society, including people in care homes, were sacrificed because 10 years of austerity had left our NHS and social care system on its knees.

“Now we have the longest NHS waiting list in history and it’s impossible to say how many more deaths due to people not being diagnosed or treated in time.

“Following this damning report, the Government has the opportunity to show humility and apologise for the mistakes made, as everyone understands this was an unprecedented situation.

“But more importantly, we need the analysis that comes with an enquiry now, to ensure we learn from the mistakes.

“The public will not forgive if the same errors are made resulting in further unnecessary fatalities.”

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