RCPCH welcomes Baroness Hallett’s letter to Prime Minister to call for children to be included as part of COVID-19 inquiry

Baroness Hallett, chair of the COVID-19 public inquiry has written to the Prime Minister to request the terms of reference are expanded to include a focus on children. This follows a four-week consultation on the inquiry draft terms of reference which received over 20,000 responses, including from RCPCH. 
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Specifically she recommends the terms of reference are expanded to include: 

  1. Children and young people, including the impact on health, wellbeing and social care education and early years provision;
  2. Impacts on mental health and wellbeing of the UK population 
  3. Collaboration between central government, Devolved Administrations, local authorities and the voluntary and community sector.

Baroness Hallett has also recommended the Terms of Reference be reframed to put inequalities at its forefront so that investigation into the unequal impacts of the pandemic runs through the whole Inquiry.

In response, RCPCH Dr President Camilla Kingdon said:

We are extremely pleased to see that Baroness Hallett has written to the Prime Minister to name children and young people and their experiences as a central inclusion to the COVID-19 public inquiry. While it was disappointing that children were missed off in the first instance, we are delighted that Baroness Hallett has proposed these important changes to the Inquiry Terms of Reference.

We cannot fully know all the ways in which children and young people have been impacted by the pandemic, but the emerging evidence shows us that there are already advancing inequalities in both health and wider aspects of children’s wellbeing across the country. It is absolutely right that children and young people are now considered as a core tenet. It is also welcome that the Inquiry has recognised the importance of health inequalities as a central theme to its investigation. 

The Prime Minister should now accept this request, so the review team can move into its core work and consider lessons and recommendations for the future. As an organisation, and as paediatricians, we stand ready to engage with the review team, to make sure children are not forgotten again.