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Press release: Royal College of Physicians responds to announcement of COVID-19 public inquiry

The RCP has responded to the Prime Minister's announcement of an independent public inquiry into the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “A public inquiry is crucial to helping us identify and recommend changes so we can improve preparedness for and management of future crises.

“The inquiry needs to look at how prepared we were and the decisions we took in terms of very practical things, such as stocks of PPE, the size of the NHS workforce and how many critical care beds we have.

“But ‘preparedness’ will need to be defined very widely, taking into account the greater impact of COVID-19 in the UK because of the state of public health. For example, given that the high levels of obesity in the UK massively increased the negative impact of the virus, lowering levels of obesity should be seen as part of preparing for future pandemics and similar crises.

“This will need to extend to a wider examination of inequality in terms of all the protected characteristics plus socioeconomic status. These inequalities lead to inequalities in health, which have meant the most vulnerable and deprived in our society have once again borne the brunt of a crisis.”