Covid-19 Public Inquiry Terms of Reference - consultation response

In April 2022, we responded to a consultation launched by the COVID-19 Public Inquiry on its draft Terms of Reference. RCPCH is concerned by the lack of specific focus on children and young people.

The UK Covid-19 Inquiry has been set up to examine the UK’s pandemic response and to ensure that the UK is better prepared to respond to future pandemics. The Terms of Reference set out what it will look into and what it should do. In March, a draft of the Terms of Reference were published and we responded with our views in April 2022. 

Our response

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) would welcome greater focus on children and young people in the inquiry Terms of Reference.

We recognise children and young people have been generally less seriously affected by COVID-19 than adults in direct terms, they are more at risk from the negative longer-term consequences of the current pandemic. We view the following as particularly important: 

  • Children and young people’s mental health.
  • Safeguarding and child protection especially of vulnerable children.
  • The widening of child health inequalities. 
  • Redeployment of the child health workforce and facilities to adult services. 
  • The interruption of routine child health appointments including in the community and the disruption of wider childhood vaccination programmes.  

RCPCH welcomes the specific aim of the inquiry to consider the experiences and impact on health and care sector workers, and other key workers, during the pandemic. We note:

  • Paediatricians worked long hours, were redeployed to other wards, communicating with relatives of adult ICU patients, facilitated the shielding of doctors doing different roles and of course giving vaccinations. 

RCPCH is of the view that where relevant the inquiry should seek the views and accounts of children and young people. It is important that engagement with children and young people is done in an appropriate and meaningful way that maintains a rights-based approach. 

We respond to a wide range of consultations to ensure that the College's position, and ultimately children's health, is represented. Members can get involved in current consultations by contacting the Media and Public Affairs team: