Specialist nurse declares pandemic preparations ‘inadequate’ at COVID inquiry

02 July 2023
Volume 34 · Issue 7

The UK government planned for the wrong pandemic, didn't act on learnings from previous outbreaks and failed to prepare the right protective equipment for respiratory infections like COVID-19, infection, prevention and control specialist nurse Rose Gallagher said in her evidence at the COVID-19 inquiry.

The RCN's Ms Gallagher gave evidence to the first module of the inquiry examining resilience and preparedness.

She told the inquiry that years of underfunding, health service restructures and a failure to consult key professions led to the UK and the NHS not being prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic.

She stated the nursing workforce crisis was already well entrenched before COVID-19 struck due to a long-term lack of investment and planning. Chronic nursing shortages, especially in emergency and critical care, significantly undermined the UK's ability to deal with a pandemic on this scale.

‘We went into the pandemic about 50,000 nurses short,’ said Ms Gallagher. ‘That immediately put us at risk when we needed to surge capacity to support patients who were infected, either at home or in hospitals.’

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