We welcome the Scottish Government’s decision to set up a public inquiry into the Covid pandemic before a wider UK inquiry. Any lessons from the Inquiry will have implications for the Programme for Government, particularly the Scottish Government’s proposals to create a new a National Care Service. While we welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to introduce legislation to set up a National Care Service by next June, it is also important that any legislation or other reforms don’t pre-judge the public inquiry or preclude its recommendations from being incorporated into a National Care Service at a later date.
While we recognise the inquiry can only “look into” devolved matters, we believe it is important it considers the impacts of the pandemic as a whole. The current proposals appear to recognise that as it is proposed the Inquiry be asked to look not just at health impacts, which is a fully devolved matter, but economic impacts where most of the powers and levers are held at UK level.
Currently the Scottish Government appears to be proposing that the Inquiry looks at “events causing public concern” and decisions and actions taken in response to the pandemic. We believe that is far too narrow.
Update: The Covid-19 inquiry published its analysis of responses to the consultation on the 15th of December 2021 and has adopted many of the actions that we have called for. The consultation report can be read here.