A new report from the National Audit Office (NAO) has found that the UK was not as prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic as it could have been.
The report, titled ‘Initial learning from the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic’, aims to help the government to evaluate its performance, employ new ways of working and improve its management of potential future emergencies.
In addition to finding that the UK was not suitably prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, the report detailed how the crisis has ‘laid bare’ existing inequalities in society and exacerbated these issues.
“COVID-19 has required government to respond to an exceptionally challenging and rapidly changing threat. There is much to learn from the successes and failures in government’s response and this report is our initial contribution to that process,” said Gareth Davies, head of the NAO
“Applying these lessons is not only important for the remaining phases of the current pandemic but should also help better prepare the UK for future emergencies,” he added.
The NAO is set to continue its work on providing learning opportunities from the government’s response to COVID-19 in its future work on the pandemic. It will provide Parliament, as well as the public, with ‘timely reporting’ to ensure and support accountability, the spending watchdog added.
In response to the NAO report, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “There are also many vital lessons for the Government to learn from the past fourteen months, including the need for speed in imposing lockdowns, something that is particularly important to bear in mind as we are seeing a worrying rise in the number cases of the variant of COVID-19 first identified in India.”
He added: “Importantly, this report also highlights the ever more pressing need to make sure reform of the social care sector is swift and far-reaching. The two are sister services, and when one is hit hard, so is the other. Our members stand with their colleagues in social care in their dismay that the experiences highlighted so starkly in this report did not result in the promised action by the Prime Minister and Chancellor.”