Responding to Baroness Hallett's recommendations on the revisions to the UK Covid-19 Public Inquiry terms of reference, Jonathan Ellis, Hospice UK Director of Policy said:
We welcome Baroness Hallett's acknowledgement of the very real yet little-understood challenge of people dying at home during the pandemic - but we must ensure this does not become a 'side issue' for the inquiry.
More than 100,000 additional people have died at home since the pandemic began, and we have strong reason to believe that many of them may not have received adequate care. This is not something that the inquiry should fail to examine in detail. The stories and experiences from behind closed doors must be heard.
Baroness Hallett's recognition that care delivered within the home is a distinct setting alongside care delivered in hospitals and care homes is therefore important. We welcome the fact that a specific reference to 'care in the home, including by unpaid carers' will be included in the updated inquiry terms. The Inquiry's recognition of the very unequal impact of the pandemic is also fundamental.
However, Baroness Hallett says that deaths in private homes will be covered under a broader examination of the consequences of the pandemic on non-COVID related conditions and needs. While this is welcome, the devil will be in the detail, as this is an area of potentially limitless scope.
We welcome the Inquiry's commitment to looking at the impact on those who lost loved ones during the pandemic, and the critical commitment to hearing the voices of those families. We also applaud the additional emphasis on the role of the voluntary sector - charitably run hospices have played a vital role in our response to the pandemic from the very beginning, and their ability to be part of our wider healthcare system should be recognised into the long term.