The Doctors’ Association UK has launched legal action against the government to force an immediate public inquiry into the failure to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to frontline clinical staff.
The National Audit Office (NAO) has reported that PPE was not stockpiled in the weeks preceding the pandemic despite the government being advised to do so.
Less than half of the PPE required to face the crisis was available to frontline workers as a result.
DAUK said frontline staff have a legal right to an immediate public inquiry under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to life – because deaths and illnesses were “caused or contributed to” by the State.
In documents filed with the High Court, the group reported that there have been at least 181 deaths of NHS staff and 131 deaths of social care workers in England, as of May 20.
Paul Bowen QC, representing the DAUK, said: “In the particular context of this case, there is an urgent need to address the underlying reasons for the apparent failures to procure, stockpile, distribute and supply adequate PPE (both before and during the pandemic) that have led to the current shortage.
“That urgency arises, in part, from the need to learn lessons from any previous failures, in light of the possibility that a second or third wave of the pandemic may follow.”