KRW TO APPLY FOR STATUS FOR CARE HOME RELATIVES AT COVID-19 INQUIRY
KRW LAW LLP (KRW) represents a group of families whose loved ones were and are residents in care homes in Northern Ireland during the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of those we represent lost loved ones as a direct result of guidelines and policies applied – or not applied – within private care homes in this jurisdiction subject to regulation by public sector agencies including the Department of Health and Social Care and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.
Some of those who died did so resulting from being transferred between care homes and hospitals, or because of the refusal of hospitals to admit care home residents diagnosed with Covid-19. Other factors included lack of PPE, the suspension of independent inspections of care homes, the inadequate training of staff and contract staff working on multiple sites without proper supervision.
Other families were denied access to their loved ones because of restrictions on visiting and lockdown rules. Some family members with important core care roles were not able to fulfil their functions because of these restrictions thus adding to the trauma of their loved ones.
Central and local government created a culture of fear during the pandemic which had a direct effect on care home residents and their families.
Politicians in Northern Ireland rejected calls for an independent public inquiry into the management and regulation of the pandemic unlike Scotland. Northern Ireland is therefore part of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry under the chair of Baroness Heather Hallett, a retired judge of the Court of Appeal which opened on 21 July 2022.
Module 2C of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry is concerned with:
“This module will look at, and make recommendations about, the decision-making by the government in Northern Ireland in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic between early January 2020 until Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in Northern Ireland in March 2022. It will examine the decision-making of key groups and individuals within the government in Northern Ireland including the First Minister, deputy First Minister and other Ministers, in particular between early January and late March 2020 when the first national lockdown was imposed. More detailed consideration of a number of key areas and the impact of the pandemic on those areas in Northern Ireland will be undertaken later in the Inquiry.” (Module 2C Outline of Scope.docx (covid19.public-inquiry.uk) (last accessed 31 August 2022))
Public hearings will take place in Northern Ireland for Module 2. The Inquiry is now accepting applications for Core Participant status from those with a special interest.
KRW will be making an application for Core Participant status on behalf of those we represent regarding care home residents and their families. If successful, this application will enable those families to have access to all the evidence and disclosure made available to the inquiry and to examine witness with the benefit of legal representation.
For families requiring advice and assistance please contact the KRW COVID-19 Inquiry team at KRW.