As hearings open this week, relatives are told they will not be able to speak about hospital care standards
Families of those who died from Covid-19 have been barred from submitting individual testimony to the official public inquiry about the standard of care received by their loved ones during the pandemic, the Observer can reveal.
Instead, the inquiry chair, Lady Hallett, is proposing they submit “pen portraits” to a private research company as part of a parallel “Listening Project” that will not have the power to demand the disclosure of documents or investigate claims about their relatives’ care.
“It would appear that Lady Hallett would rather outsource the grief of bereaved families to the Listening Project than engage with us constructively,” said John Sullivan, whose daughter, Susan, died in March 2020 at Barnet hospital after being denied access to an intensive therapy unit because of her Down’s syndrome and supposed cardiac comorbidities. “The inquiry is becoming a farce and an exercise in cover-up,” he said, ahead of the first hearing on Tuesday.