Publish internal review to help UK prepare for pandemic’s next stage – Ashworth

Publishing the Government’s internal review of its handling of the Covid-19 crisis will help the UK “prepare” for the next stage of the pandemic, the shadow health secretary said.

Jonathan Ashworth said that the publication of the document would ensure better scrutiny of the Government’s response to the Indian Covid-19 variant.

It comes as a separate report by the National Audit Office (NAO) found that the pandemic had “laid bare existing fault lines within society and has exacerbated inequalities”.

The Andrew Marr Show
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Labour will table a motion on Wednesday to require the Government to publish the internal review.

Mr Ashworth told Times Radio: “We need to learn lessons and prepare for the next stage.

“This isn’t about scoring points or anything like that, it’s about being aware we have got this particular variant spreading in parts of the country.

“It seems to be spreading quickly and we need to make sure the Government is doing all it can to quickly contain the spread.

“If we have the lessons learned document published it will help all of us better scrutinise the Government’s plans and response to this variant.”

The NAO report found the Government lacked a “playbook” for many aspects of its response to the pandemic, including managing a mass disruption to schooling.

It also said greater transparency was needed to ensure the Government “can assess whether it is making a difference”.

Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said an unreformed adult social care system, workforce shortages and the financial pressure felt by central and local government “all require long-term solutions” after the coronavirus crisis.

Labour will look to capitalise on the findings in the final debate on the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday, with the opposition party tabling a humble address calling on the Government to publish its internal review.

Mr Ashworth will tell MPs: “Boris Johnson promised us an irreversible road map to normality.

“With the spread of the B1617.2 variant threatening to hold us back, we need urgent action from ministers to contain this variant.”