February 29, 2024

Lady Hallett’s inquiry into the UK’s preparedness for the Covid pandemic is set to make recommendations that include the appointment of a Cabinet minister for pandemics and other national emergencies. The report is expected to be published early in 2024 and will call for a major shake-up of government planning for crises and serious virus outbreaks. It is expected to propose the appointment of a dedicated, Cabinet-level minister for resilience and emergencies, who would be responsible for planning for and responding to national emergencies such as pandemics and flooding. The inquiry has also heard evidence about the impact of Brexit and austerity on the Government’s response to Covid and the need to address health inequalities in the UK’s population. Additionally, the report is likely to recommend streamlining the machinery of central and local government in pandemic planning, as well as addressing the issue of “groupthink” among civil servants, scientists, and ministers. The report may also propose measures to prevent a pandemic from taking hold in the country in the first place, rather than just focusing on how to respond to it when it emerges.

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