BGS responds to report ‘Coronavirus: lessons learned to date’

The BGS welcomes the House of Commons Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committees’ joint report Coronavirus: lessons learned to date. The report shares findings from the joint inquiry established in October 2020 with the aim of providing a fuller evaluation of the Government’s handling of the pandemic. It seeks to provide an early assessment of the key decisions, structures and underlying factors which contributed to the extent of COVID-19’s impact in England*.

The joint inquiry looked in detail at six key areas of the response to COVID-19: the country’s preparedness for a pandemic; the use of non-pharmaceutical interventions such as border controls, social distancing and lockdowns to control the pandemic; the use of test, trace and isolate strategies; the impact of the pandemic on social care; the impact of the pandemic on specific communities; and the procurement and roll-out of covid-19 vaccines. The BGS submitted written evidence which can be viewed on the inquiry publications page.

Dr Jennifer Burns, President of the British Geriatrics Society, commented:

We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating to older people with 90% of deaths occurring in those aged over 65. Those living and working in care homes were particularly affected by policies at the beginning of the pandemic around access to testing, personal protective equipment and discharge from hospitals to care home. We were pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to this inquiry. We welcome the acknowledgement in this report that the social care sector in general, and older people in particular, were not protected as well as they should have been throughout the pandemic. While it is of course too late for the many older people who died during the pandemic, there are steps that the Government can and must take now to put older people at the centre of COVID recovery. The Government must invest in rehabilitation for older people who have become deconditioned during the pandemic and those who are being discharged from hospital. We know that thousands of older people across the country are stuck in hospital when they do not need to be there because sufficient support is not available for them at home. This Government must honour its promise to reform social care to ensure that older people have access to the vital services they need, now and in the future.”

*NB: The Report, and the evidence gathered, are principally around the experience and the response to the pandemic in England although the Report refers to aspects elsewhere in the United Kingdom where relevant.