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PDA supports calls for complete transparency in Covid-19 Public Inquiry

The PDA is supporting calls to ensure there is full disclosure of evidence to the Covid-19 Public Inquiry to ensure the facts become known and the country can be better prepared for future pandemics.

Sat 27th May 2023 The PDA

The PDA is supporting calls from the Trade Union Congress (TUC) for government not to withhold evidence from the Covid-19 Public Inquiry. The call was made after the chair of the inquiry, Baroness Hallet, criticised the Cabinet Office for refusing to hand over unredacted WhatsApp messages from Boris Johnson and his advisers.

Baroness Hallet has ordered the messages be provided in full.

TUC Assistant General Secretary, Kate Bell said, “The Covid-19 pandemic impacted every single person in the UK, including millions of workers who put their lives on the line. The very least we all deserve is openness and transparency from those who took the decisions. 

The lessons we need to learn from this pandemic are too important for the government to play politics with. It must cooperate fully.”

The TUC, as Britain’s national trade union centre, has core participant status in the inquiry. It will be giving evidence on the UK’s pandemic preparedness when the inquiry’s first module begins on June 13.

Timeline of controversy

On April 28 the Chair of the Covid-19 inquiry, Baroness Hallet, issued the Cabinet Office with a Section 21 notice.

This notice instructed the Cabinet Office to hand over unredacted WhatsApp messages exchanged between Boris Johnson and his adviser Henry Cook with cabinet ministers and leading officials.

The Cabinet Office had claimed the redactions that had been made contained nothing of relevance and appealed this decision.

Baroness Hallet firmly rejected the appeal.

The redacted WhatsApp messages included discussions between the Prime Minister and his advisers about the enforcement of Covid-19 regulations by the Metropolitan Police during the public demonstrations following the murder of Sarah Everard.

Baroness Hallet described the Cabinet Office’s approach as “not a promising start.”


PDA Director, Paul Day said, “We will never forget the impact on the country, on patients and profession, and on our families and communities from this pandemic.

There are some issues relating specifically to pharmacy which we hope are examined and may be covered by the inquiry, including the early guidance that claimed community pharmacists did not need PPE. 

It is critical that the inquiry receives the full facts and can produce the necessary recommendations.”

The PDA championed the role of pharmacists across the UK throughout the pandemic, including:

  • Producing ID cards for members to confirm they were health professionals during the first lockdowns
  • Ensuring the profession was added to arrangements from which they were initially excluded such as the coronavirus compensation scheme
  • Working with law enforcement to address levels of abuse
  • Creating an online portal that allowed locum pharmacists (including non-PDA members) to secure their priority injection when the vaccination was first rolled out
  • Supporting trainee pharmacists who became provisional pharmacists after being unable to take their exams, and students
  • Highlighting and challenging employers that sought to allow infected staff to work with patients, and other breaches of safety regulations.

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