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  • COVID-19 Inquiry

    Created: 17/12/2021

    Ministers have issued the terms of reference of the public inquiry into the handling of covid-19 in Scotland and named the judge who will lead the review.

    The statutory inquiry will be presided over by Lady Poole and will investigate 12 aspects of the handling of the pandemic from 01 January 2020 onwards. Areas of focus will include hospital discharges to care homes, the treatment of people in care, the use of ‘do not resuscitate’ orders and PPE supplies.

    It will also examine the pandemic planning that took place prior to 2020.

    The full terms of reference published by the Scottish government for the inquiry are:


    1. The aim of this inquiry is to establish the facts of, and learn lessons from, the strategic response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland.


    2. To investigate the strategic elements of the handling of the pandemic relating to:

    a) pandemic planning and exercises carried out by the Scottish Government;

    b) the decision to lockdown and to apply other restrictions;

    c) the delivery of a system of testing, outbreak management and self isolation;

    d) the design and delivery of a vaccination strategy;

    e) the supply, distribution and use of Personal Protective Equipment;

    f) the requirement for shielding and associated assistance programmes, provided or supported by public agencies;

    g) in care and nursing homes: the transfer of residents to or from homes, treatment and care of residents, restrictions on visiting, infection prevention and control, and inspections;

    h) the provision of healthcare services, including the management and support of staff;

    i) the delivery of end of life care and the use of DNACPR (do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation decisions);

    j) welfare assistance programmes, for example those relating to benefits or the provision of food, provided or supported by public agencies;

    k) the delivery of education and certification; and

    l) financial support and guidance given to businesses and the self-employed, including in relation to the identification of keyworkers, by public agencies.


    • To create a factual record of the key strategic elements of the handling of the pandemic.
    • To identify lessons and implications for the future, and provide recommendations.
    • To provide reports to the Scottish Ministers as soon as practicable.


    When interpreting and applying these terms of reference:

    a) in relation to points 2(b) to 2(l), investigations will cover the period between 01 January 2020 and 31 December 2022;

    b) the inquiry will, as the chair deems appropriate and necessary, consider the impacts of the strategic elements of handling of the pandemic on the exercise of Convention rights (as defined in Section 1 of the Human Rights Act 1998);

    c) the inquiry can consider only “Scottish matters” as defined in section 28(5) of the Inquiries Act 2005;

    d) the inquiry respects the independent role of the Lord Advocate in relation to the prosecution of crime and the investigation of deaths in Scotland; and

    e) the inquiry must make reasonable efforts to minimise duplication of investigation, evidence gathering and reporting with any other public inquiry established under the Inquiries Act 2005.

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